Saturday, March 15, 2008

Untimely Penalty A Back Breaker

  • If the Kelowna Rockets do meet the Tri City Americans in the opening round of the WHL playoffs, consider game one already in the books. In what felt like a playoff game before it even started, emotions ran high Friday night in the Americans 4-2 home ice win. Rockets forward Brady Leavold began pushing with European forward Petr Stoklasa before the puck was even dropped to start the period. The two were promptly ushered to the penalty box for their behavior.
  • Stoklasa was public enemy number one for the Rockets on this night. He was involved with Leavold off the opening face-off, was in a scrum which sent Colin Long off the ice, and was again involved in a flare-up just inside the Rockets zone late in the game. But from a Rockets stand point, why spend needless energy on a player who does little other than agitate?
  • How rough was Friday’s game? At one point the Rockets top three point getter's – Long, Leavold and Benn were all in the penalty box at the same time. That’s 88 goals essentially taken off the ice because of penalties in one sequence. The Americans likely were snickering on the bench after pulling off that trick. Should the two teams meet in the first round, look for the Americans to attempt to draw those three into penalties. If they can get Leavold, Long and Benn off the ice at the same time, it’s an added bonus.
  • Give the Rockets credit for battling back in this one. Despite being down 2-0, Jamie Benn made it a one goal game after picking up a loose puck that squirted out after good work by James McEwan at the side of the Americans net. Instead of stopping and waiting for Tri City goaltender Chet Pickard to freeze the puck, McEwan kept hacking at it before it squirted out for Benn to tuck home on the backhand.
  • The Rockets took far too many penalties. Giving the second best power play unit 13 chances with the extra man is playing with fire, and the Americans essentially put the game away with a 5 on 3 goal with over 6 minutes left to play in the 3rd period. Several of the penalties the Rockets took were for hooking or slashing, lazy penalties in the eyes of the coaching staff. The one penalty that took momentum away from the Rockets was a hooking call Brandon McMillan took 12 seconds after he tied the game at two. The Am's would score on the power play to make it a 3-2 score.
  • The Americans are going to be a tough team to beat in the playoffs no question. No team is better at home than the Americans – with just 6 home losses this season – and their specialty teams are among the best in the league. You don’t win 51 games during the regular season by luck. The Americans are well coached, have top end talent who can score, and have solid goaltending.
  • I love Americans coach Don Nachbaur's demeanor on the bench. After Rockets captain James McEwan slashed and then got into a fight with Americans Shaun Vey late in the game, Nachbaur didn’t snap on the bench, but definitely wanted an explanation from referee Andy Thiessen. It’s that calm, controlled manner behind the Americans bench that is a key reason why this team is poised to win its first WHL regular season title.
  • It appears hockey fans and non-hockey fans have taken notice of the Americans outstanding season. The biggest crowd I have ever witnessed in the Toyota Center (57 hundred) watched Friday’s game. Skeptics will call it bandwagon jumping, but I am sure GM Bob Tory will agree that the Americans have plenty of room for others to jump on board in the quest for the teams first ever WHL championship.
  • I had to take a picture of Tri City American season ticket holder Stephanie Collins. Just take a guess who her favorite player is? Notice the yellow horns on her head? She's a fan of Americans forward Colton Yellow Horn, who had two assists in last night's win.
  • The Rockets ended the road portion of their schedule last night. The 17 wins on opposition ice is a huge improvement over the 6 they won just one season ago.


MG said...

I still don't understadn why Jung is on I missing something here ??

g.k said...

I've heard through the grapevine he had a bit of a disagreement with coach Huska & has been benched till further notice!! Any truth to that rumour Regan?

Regan Bartel said...

No truth to that rumour. After looking at the four goals Jung gave up on video last night, two were off of teammates. Jung was good last night, but neither are assured the start in game one of the playoffs Friday night. Huska is far to intelligent of a coach to even think he would let a disagreement between a player and himself affect the overall good of the team. The good for the team is play the goaltender with the hot hand. In my opinion neither has put together a good stretch of games.