Saturday, March 22, 2008

The 'Key' In Winning In The Key Arena

  • This is the t-shirt the Rockets are wearing during the playoffs.The 'no regrets' comes from the captain's speech James McEwan gave at Tuesday night's awards banquet. During that speech, McEwan pointed to a fight he had with veteran T-Birds defenseman Zack Fitzgerald in an attempt to make the team in 2004. McEwan says while he questioned fighting Fitzgerald at the time, he didn't want to leave Seattle's training camp with any regrets. He ended up fighting Fitzgerald and made the T-Birds team that season. McEwan challenged his teammates Tuesday night to leave everything out on the ice in this years playoffs, or essentially having no regrets.
  • The Kelowna Rockets have now won 5 straight playoff games at the Key Arena in Seattle after a 3-2 win Friday night in game one of their best of seven quarter final playoff series. The Rockets won all three games at the 'Key' back in the 2005 playoffs, and were a 4-0 winner in game five of a playoff series against the T-Birds on the road in 2003. Overall the Rockets have shutout the T-Birds in Seattle in four of the last five playoff visits.
  • I thought the Rockets deserved a better fate after the T-Birds opened up the scoring courtesy of a power play goal from Ian McKenzie 9 minutes into the game. Cody Almond was robbed by Seattle goaltender Riku Helenius with a tremendous blocker save to keep the game scoreless before McKenzie beat Westblom on a goal mouth scramble to open the scoring.
  • I was surprised at how little offense the T-Birds generated even strength. Both goals that the home team scored were with the extra man. You have to credit the defensive core, more so Luke Schenn, who was close at hand when Seattle's number one line of Greg Scott, Lindsay Nielson and Bud Holloway saw the ice.
  • The T-Birds were by far the more physical team in this one. Thomas Hickey had a great hit on Jamie Benn just inside the T-Bird blueline that left Benn gasping for air. Benn slowly made his way to the Rockets bench before returning the next shift. Seattle defenseman Scott Jackson also had a huge hit on Myles MacRae that had the small crowd of just over 3 thousand yelling for more.
  • The Rockets could have had more than just three goals in last night's win. Brandon McMillan had his shot hit the cross-bar in the third period when the T-Birds were clinging to a 2-1 lead, and Brady Leavold was robbed on two in tight chances by Helenius when the Rockets were on the power play looking for the equalizing goal.
  • Rockets overage forward Brady Leavold was full marks for being named the games first star. Not only did he score two goals in the win, he trash talked all night long, and did a nice job of taking T-Birds defenseman Benn Olson with him to the penalty box after they began pushing and shoving behind the T-Birds net.
  • I tip my hat to Kristofer Westblom for a statement game Friday night. The overage goaltender was extremely good in this one, making 27 saves in the win. It's that type of effort that is needed from the last line of defense for this young Rockets team to succeed in the playoffs.
  • Nine Rockets made their WHL playoff debuts Friday night. Ryan Huska also earned his first WHL playoff coaching victory in the win.
  • Who is the Rockets all-time leader in playoff games played? Tyler Mosienko had 81 playoff games under his belt. Entering last night's game the Rockets as a team had a combined 90 playoff games played.

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