Kyle Beach Interview

https://od.lk/f/ODVfMjQ0ODY0NV8

Monday, March 31, 2008

Referee's Announced for Game Seven

Andy Thiessen and Derek Herman are the two referee's for game seven! Say what you will, but I don't have a problem with either of these two. If we don't notice them Tuesday night they will have done their jobs well.

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • Isn't it ironic that the last time the Rockets were involved in a game seven playoff series it was against Seattle in 2005. The Rockets won that game 2-1 back on April 19, 2005.
  • The last time the Rockets played a game seven on the road was April 1, 1998 in a 5-1 loss in Spokane. Oddly enough Tuesday night's game seven in Seattle is also on April Fools Day.
  • You still can't convince me that the Seattle Thunderbirds are a better team than the Kelowna Rockets in this best of seven series. The T-Birds can make the Rockets looked ordinary if they are allowed to use their speed and body contact is not applied. The game six effort that the Rockets showed Saturday night told me that this team is indeed better than becoming a first round casualty.
  • Brady Leavold leads the Rockets in playoff goals with 5. How nice was his power play goal in game six? http://www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0476.MP3&nid=691467&
  • The Rockets used two 16 year-old defenseman in overtime in Saturday's win. Tyson Barrie and Collin Bowman may be over their heads now, but will benefit from this experience down the road when they are 18 and 19 year-old veterans.
  • Who was the most anxious spectator at Saturday's game? How about Rockets captain James McEwan. McEwan was sitting on the sidelines while serving a one game suspension. McEwan will be back in the lineup Tuesday night.
  • T-Birds defenseman Scott Jackson gets the Grizzly Adams awards for best facial hair in this series. Jackson, who turned 21 in February, gets the nod over fellow teammate Prab Rai, who has a wicked looking goatee going on.
  • Where has Cool Bird been in this series? The Seattle Thunderbirds mascot has to be one of the best in the league. He reminds me of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers mascot with the big sun glasses. Speaking of mascots, do the Moose Jaw Warriors still use Puck Head as a mascot? If so, for the love of God burn that costume when you set the Moose Jaw Civic Center ablaze.
  • Readers of this blog from Swift Current may be interested to know that the majority of our media panel prior to the start of the playoffs picked the Broncos to beat the Regina Pats in that Eastern Conference Quarter Final series, including yours truly. The only media member not to pick the Broncos? My roommate on the road, the Kelowna Daily Courier's Doyle Pontenteau.
  • I had to laugh at the comments being made by Pats fans about the wardrobe of Broncos radio color analyst Ryan Switzer in the opening round playoff series. To attack Switzer's tie and shirt combinations is nothing short of comical. Switzer is no slouch, and takes great pride in how he presents himself. In my books he would be considered one of the best dressed color-men in this league. Thank God he has the fashion sense not to wear a Christmas tie or one of those comic ties that were big in the 90's. Now my wish is for some of my radio colleague's (you know who you are) to burn theirs at the stake.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lucas Lifts Rockets to Game Seven

  • Lucas Bloodoff proved one thing Saturday night in the Rockets 4-3 overtime win over Seattle. Never give up on the play. Bloodoff scored from what appeared to be an impossible angle in the extra session leading the Rockets to the win, and a game seven match-up with the T-Birds Tuesday night at the Key Arena. Bloodoff's goal came after he got up-ended by defenseman Thomas Hickey while taking a shot on goal. Instead of giving up on the weak shot, Bloodoff got the rebound from behind the red end line and shot the puck towards goaltender Riku Helenius. It managed to go off Helenius' left skate and into the net for the game winning goal.
  • It was ironic that the game winning goal by Bloodoff came in or near the same area that Seattle's Greg Scott scored from to send the game into overtime in the first place. Scott's seeing eye shot went off of Rockets goaltender Kristofer Westblom with the T-Birds on the power play and the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker.
  • The T-Birds were granted the late third period power play after a call on Brady Leavold for elbowing. The fact is, on video replay, it clearly shows Leavold not even getting his elbow in the chest of Seattle's Scott Jackson. For that matter Leavold is 5'10 and Jackson is 6 foot 3, so the so-called penalty on video showed Leavold's fists get into Jackson's chest, not his elbow. For a questionable call to be made that late in the game, which could have ended the Rockets season, is inexcusable.
  • In my opinion the Rockets should have never been in a situation where they needed overtime to force a game seven in this series. The Rockets hit two posts, both by Luke Schenn, and had several glorious scoring chances but were unable to convert. Seattle must have felt fortunate to be in a situation to end this series in the extra session.
  • How good was Luke Schenn? In his best game as a Rocket, Schenn was sensational logging a ton of ice time and again keeping the T-Birds top line at bay. It appeared as the game went on Schenn got better. The 18 year-old will need the two days off before game seven on Tuesday to recover from a game that saw him earn the first star. He had a goal and two assists, but it was his play in the defensive zone that caught my attention.
  • One mans misfortune is another mans gain. Tysen Dowzak was to blame on the T-Birds second goal when Ian McKenzie skated past the 19 year-old and scored late in the second period to tie the game at two. Instead of applying his entire body on McKenzie, Dowzak got just a piece of him allowing McKenzie to get a backhand shot away that slid past Westblom. Had solid body contact been made the goal would have never occurred. After that miscue, Dowzak never saw the ice in the third period or overtime. That meant Colin Joe was pressed into action, and he delivered. Joe was great in the third period and in overtime. Rockets head coach Ryan Huska called it Joe's best game in a Rockets uniform.
  • After a shaky performance in game five, Kristofer Westblom was again at the top of his game Saturday night. Westblom made two nice glove hand saves off of Jim O'Brien and Greg Scott as the two attempted to go top shelf on the veteran goaltender.
  • The Rockets are now 8-2 in game six playoff series dating back to the 2002 playoffs. Those two game six playoff losses both came against the Everett Silvertips in 2004 and 2006.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shea Weber Article From NHL.COM

The whispers have been there all season. But Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber is too busy to listen.Weber doesn't even acknowledge that he knows that there's a new game of chicken being played among general managers around the National Hockey League regarding young, promising players who are about to become restricted free agents in the aftermath of the Edmonton Oilers signing Buffalo's Thomas Vanek and then Anaheim's Dustin Penner to offer sheets last summer.In order to stave off similar raids this summer, Washington has re-signed Alexander Ovechkin, Pittsburgh re-upped Sidney Crosby and Calgary rewarded Dion Phaneuf with a loud, headline-grabbing new contract.There's definitely nothing quiet about the way Shea Weber plays. His shot is loud and lethal. His bodychecks are noisy and downright nasty. Simply put, the 6-foot-3, 213-pounder from Sicamous, B.C., makes an impact at both ends of the rink. The here-and-now for him is hitting and shooting the Predators into the playoff mix, not worrying about how much money he can make as a potential free agent."Shea's a great player because he’s very humble about what he does," said Predators coach Barry Trotz. "He has everything in perspective."Personally, this has been a season of catch-up for the 22-year-old defenseman, who dislocated his kneecap in the Oct. 4 opener against Colorado, missing 18 games. Then he was sidelined for 11 games between Dec. 23 and Jan. 13 because of a leg injury."It’s tough to get it going when you go out in the first game of the year," Weber said, shaking his head.Especially when the Predators were already minus captain Kimmo Timonen and stars Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg and Tomas Vokoun, along with up-and-coming forward Scott Hartnell at the start of the season. Ownership in Nashville was in a state of flux. The team that had 51 wins last season had to be broken up for fiscal reasons. What that meant was that Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont and youngsters like Weber, Ryan Suter, Dan Hamhuis and David Legwand would have to take over the leadership roles on the team.That didn't figure to be a problem for Weber, coming off a season in which he had 17 goals, 40 points and a team-best 165 hits."On every level of hockey, once Shea started feeling comfortable, he's always excelled," Trotz said. "He reminds me of a young Rob Blake the way he can shoot the puck, the way he can step up into the play offensively and the way he can be a physical force on the defensive end."Weber's teammates think Shea will, in time, be comparable to hard-hitting and hard-shooting Phaneuf, whom the Calgary Flames took off the potential restricted free agent list with a whopping six-year, $39 million contract."I think Shea is just as good," Suter said when asked about Phaneuf's big contract and what he thought Weber might command on the open market. "Shea is definitely an impact player. He's the real deal."Don't think for a moment that Predators GM David Poile would let Weber get away -- or that he will let negotiations get to July 1.And Weber isn't the kind of kid who would leave a place like Nashville, which he's come to consider a lot like the small town of Sicamous. Love for the game; that's Shea Weber's mindset."I'll never forget how much my brother and our friends growing up just loved to play the game," Weber recalled. "In the winter, we'd go over to the rink and play from breakfast until there was no light left. In the summer, we borrowed a couple of old nets, put them in the backyard and would shoot all day."My dad worked in a saw mill and brought us the plywood that would serve as our launching pad to practice our shooting. That kept me and my brother and my friends busy. We would have all kinds of competitions. I remember my mom would have a heckuva time getting us to come in to eat. Usually, the food was cold when we finally went in the house, but we didn't care. We were ready to go back outside after we got a bite to eat."When Shea went to Kelowna to play junior hockey, he quickly became known as a winner. He helped the Rockets to three straight Memorial Cup tournaments, winning in 2004. He also won a gold medal for Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championship and last summer was part of Canada's World Championship team that went 9-0 and won the gold medal in Russia.This is a kid who loves the comedy of Will Ferrell, the variety in rock music provided by Canada's Nickelback, fishing, boating, baseball and golf. He also loves to be ultra-competitive, pounding pucks with his brother and recording a shot speed of 78 mph when he was just 13. That speed has risen to the upper 90s now.
Being under the pressure of junior hockey at a young age was something that helped me come a long way. Then my eyes were really opened up to a new kind of drive and determination once I got to the NHL. You don't just step on the ice and play like you did as a kid. There's so much more preparation to the game at this level. -
Shea Weber"Being under the pressure of junior hockey at a young age was something that helped me come a long way," Weber recalled. "Then my eyes were really opened up to a new kind of drive and determination once I got to the NHL. You don't just step on the ice and play like you did as a kid. There's so much more preparation to the game at this level."Despite all the attention in junior hockey, Shea said he wasn't surprised that he lasted until the second round, no. 49 overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville."Honestly, I thought I was going to go later than that,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect, it was a just wait-and-see kind of thing. I remember I was just sitting there for awhile and then I heard my name, because I was a little surprised I was picked so soon."Obviously, the Predators saw plenty of Weber, especially on that gold-medal winning World Junior team where he was surrounded by potential NHL players like Phaneuf, Ryan Getzlaf, Eric Staal, Jeff Carter, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brent Burns and Nathan Horton. The Preds clearly saw a fierce competitor and ultimate warrior in Shea.Today, with teams like Nashville trying to re-sign Weber, Anaheim looking to get a new deal done with center Corey Perry and Philadelphia closing in on a new contract with Jeff Carter, it's clear that young, impact players are in demand. Those teams don't want their prospects to flee while they are still developing into prime-time players.The fact that Shea Weber clearly has a one-track mind that includes play, compete and succeed -- no time for losing -- makes him even more valuable to the Predators.Obstacles? Weber had to play one more year in Sicamous, because he was just 5-9 at a time when Western Hockey League teams didn't think he was big enough to play defense there. That just made Shea stronger of body and mind and increased his desire and work ethic to show the skeptics he could excel at any level."Coming from a small town, I guess there were questions," Weber said. "But ..."But, Weber silenced those questions through intense effort and preparation."I remember watching Al MacInnis shoot the puck,” Weber says in just one example of his dedication to the game. “I remember watching his technique -- his weight shift, his hands. Everything." But the preparation didn't stop there. He also watched and admired the overall defensive game of players like Jason Smith and Robyn Regehr.Quickly, though, Shea Weber's attention switched back to the Predators and the present -- and of how important it is to the team, the city, the new owners and the fans for Nashville to make the playoffs. That's first and foremost on Weber's mind."It’s crucial to get in," he said. "We want to show the new owners that we’re capable of winning; that the franchise is going to be good for a long time."Restricted? That may be his free-agent status when his current contract ends June 30. But there are no restrictions on just how good Shea Weber can be.

Friday, March 28, 2008

McEwan Suspended

Rockets forward James McEwan has been suspended for one game for his actions at the conclusion of last night's game.

Playoffs Reveal A Players True Character

  • The playoffs expose a player for what he really is. Is he a competitor or a quitter? Is he willing to battle through the tough times, or look for the easy way out by putting in a half hearted effort if things fail to go his/or the teams way? Who attempts to make a difference when the team is down on the scoreboard by playing hard, yet appears to want to get involved offensively when it takes minimal effort to win puck battles? When you watch game six Saturday night, pay attention to those who care, who want to win, who don't pout about their roles they are placed in, but put out maximum effort in an attempt to send this series to game seven. The players that put out are the ones I want to see on this team next year to make a legitimate run towards a league title. For those who want to mail it in, it's best you are not apart of a team who's future is so bright.
  • Who will play with the most desperation in game six? How hard has Brady Leavold played in this series? Can we ask for anything more from this dynamic 20 year-old? Leavold may not have the most points in this series, but his effort shift in and shift out has been nothing short of impressive. Seeing that he's opened the scoring in back-to-back games shows he's mentally and physically prepared at the opening face-off. Leavold isn't looking at others to make a difference, he's taking it upon himself to set the tone. Unfortunately others have struggled to match his efforts in the last two games.
  • Offensively gifted players for the Rockets who have struggled in this series, take a cue from Seattle's Bud Holloway. Holloway failed to score a goal in the first three games, yet now has three goals in his last two games. But did you notice how he was playing in the first few games when he wasn't scoring? Didn't think so. Holloway was still involved, continued to work hard and made a contribution even though he wasn't being recognized on the scoreboard.
  • Will James McEwan even play Saturday night? The Rockets captain may be suspended for his contact on Seattle goaltender Riku Helenius at the end of game five? If he fails to play, he may be watching his final junior game from the sidelines.
  • In retrospect, maybe Westblom should indeed be given the ball in game six as the Rockets starting goaltender. After getting yanked after giving up three goals on 8 shots, would it not be a shame to see this veteran on the bench, rather than battling between the pipes in an attempt to prolong his junior career? Westblom has been here from the beginning - a five year guy - and deserves the courtesy of doing what he can on the ice to get his team back in this one. Hey, he was marvelous in games one and two, why can't he regain the form that had the Rockets up 2 games to none.
  • If I'm Myles MacRae, Colin Joe or Tysen Dowzak - all three 19 year-old born players - do I not look at myself in the mirror and ask, a) If I was the GM and coach of this team, would I want to have me back next year as an overage player? b) Have I made a big impact in this years playoffs as one of the older, more established players on this team? If I haven't, it's best to get my act together quickly, as time is running out on leaving a positive taste in managements mouth. The bottom line is the Rockets will not have a marginal player filling one of those three overage spots next season. If you are an average overager, you'll be playing elsewhere in this league next season or looking at your final year of junior eligability playing in the BCHL.
  • The most rewarding things in life are always the ones that you need to work hard for. I will always look back at the 2005 playoff run as the most rewarding. The reason? The adversity the Rockets had to go through to get to the finals was a roller coaster ride. Beating the Vancouver Giants in the opening round in six games, with all six being decided by a single goal was just the appetizer for a Rockets playoff menu that features adversity throughout. The Rockets would lose 3 of 4 home games against Seattle in round two, yet won game seven at Prospera Place to advance to the Western Conference final against Kootenay. Then against the Ice, the last three games would be decided in overtime, with Shea Weber getting the winner in game six to advance to the league final. The road that season to the league final did not come easy. Each series that playoff had it's obstacles, yet every player knew that with maximum effort, no matter what role they were asked to play, would lead them to greater things.
  • What do I want to see Saturday night from the Rockets? Maximum effort. If my wish is granted in game six I have no doubt in my mind we are headed back to Seattle for game seven. And as the old saying goes, anything can happen in game seven.

Taking One On the Chin in Game Five

  • The Seattle Thunderbirds made a statement in game five Thursday night with a solid 6-2 win. The Rockets had a good opening shift which resulted in the games first goal, but after that it was all Seattle. The T-Birds would score goals just 1:17 apart before David Richard's weak wrist shot ended Kristofer Westblom's night, as the home team carried a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
  • Coach Ryan Huska elected to lift Westblom after the T-Birds 3rd goal, allowing Torrie Jung to see his first action in the WHL playoffs. Jung allowed 3 goals on 20 shots and will likely get the start in game six Saturday.
  • I didn't believe the T-Birds had momentum heading into game five Thursday night, but they sure do now after last night's win. The T-Birds have won 3 straight games in this series, scoring 12 goals in the last two games.
  • It marked the first time in this series that the home team has won a game in this best of seven. The Rockets host the T-Birds Saturday in game six, facing a must win situation. A victory forces game seven back in Seattle Tuesday night.
  • For the first time in this series we were blessed with solid officiating. Andy Thiessen and Derek Zalaski called a great game, and didn't try to out-do one another. Why were the Rockets and T-Birds granted such a solid officiating crew? Because their were no other games in the WHL playoffs.
  • The T-Birds played a great home game, just to bad nobody was there to see it. It was a shame that this skilled T-Bird club has to leave the building in celebration after a solid effort to a handful of fans. The game saw just over 25 hundred in attendance, but it felt like far less.
  • I applaud Rockets defenseman Tysen Dowzak for fighting T-Birds tough guy Benn Olson late in the game. Olson hacked Collin Bowman before the puck was dropped at center ice, so Dowzak promptly moved in and dropped the mitts with Olson. Olson may have gotten the upper hand by a hair, but Dowzak stood in there and did a tremendous job. Why we don't see that more from Dowzak is beyond me.
  • James McEwan made a bee-line to T-Birds goaltender Riku Helenius once the buzzer sounded and made contact with the Finnish netminder. Helenius wasn't hurt, but T-Birds defenseman Scott Jackson wrestled with McEwan before the linesman separated the two. McEwan wanted to leave the Key Arena with a lasting impression, in what could be his final junior game in the place where it all began.
  • Dale Tallon, the GM of the Chicago Blackhawks took in last night's game. John Davidson of the St. Louis Blues was also expected to be in the building, but I didn't see him.
  • Special thanks to Andy Kemper for helping me on Thursday's broadcast.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Quick Thoughts Before Game Five

  • Call me crazy, but I still believe the Rockets are in a good position heading into game five tonight. Sure it's down to a best of three, and the Rockets have lost the last two games, but a win tonight has them headed home for a chance to wrap it up in game six Saturday night. While the T-Birds have won the last two games, my general feeling is neither team has the momentum heading into game five tonight. Why would the Rockets not be confident, after great efforts in games one and two at the Key Arena?
  • It was suggested in the comments section that Ryan Huska called out the top line of Long, Benn and Leavold. I may have missed something there, but I didn't interpret his comments after game three that way. Huska thought that line was not at it's best in game three, nor was the goaltending. The numbers clearly point to Long, Benn and Leavold producing in this series, no question. I too would like to see more secondary scoring, which means Cody Almond and Lucas Bloodoff need to make an impact in game five. Both have goals in this series, but when you score over 15 goals during the regular season, you are required to do more than produce occasionally. As for Long, Benn and Leavold, that top line has outplayed the T-Birds number one unit.
  • Is it just me or have the Rockets been the better team 5 on 5 in this series?
  • Two players that have stood out for me in this series for the Rockets is Kyle St. Denis and Evan Bloodoff. Both are blessed with an abundance of speed, and have caused headaches for the T-Birds throughout this series. Again these two dynamos are just 17 years old. These two are going to be difference makers at 19. Even today they are making significant contributions to the betterment of the team.
  • I am not as critical as some over the Rockets defensive core. The top four - Schenn, Myers, Dowzak and Barrie are logging a lot of ice time against two extremely strong skating lines. Joe and Bowman are being inserted sporadically in an attempt to give the top four d-men a break. I think Schenn and Dowzak have been extremely physical in this series, and Barrie and Myers - two players that are 16 and 18 respectively - have played well considering their lack of playoff experience. Shouldn't the T-Birds be better on the back end? Two of their top four are overagers in Scott Jackson and Benn Olson. The Birds other top two d-men, Thomas Hickey and Sena Acolatse are the equivalent to the Rockets Luke Schenn and Tyson Barrie. That said, Hickey and Acolatse are both a year older. In an ideal world the Rockets needed to bring in a veteran body back on the blue line at the trade deadline. Failing to make that move, has the Rockets icing a top four defensive core with an average age of 18. The T-Birds top four have an average age of 19.3. That 1.3 year difference may seem small, but it's a significant difference.
  • Whoever the officiating crew is for game five, for the love of God, let them play. This has not been a dirty series, yet both teams have been extremely physical. I am not a fan of an abundance of power plays, yet both teams have used those chances to change the complexion of the game. Penalties are part of the game, but if you are going to whistle down the play, make sure it's a no-brainer.
  • I had a chance to check out the ice surface at the Key Arena for game five. The ice at the time was covered with plywood, after the NBA's Seattle Supersonics played a home game there Wednesday night. The ice is never good in that building, yet does is not benefit the Rockets in this series? When you are playing a physical, grinding the opponent down series, I can't see how that can hurt the Rockets chances.
  • I will have some help with me on tonight's broadcast. Portland Winter Hawks play-by-play man Andy Kemper has agreed to join me for tonight's show. Andy will be a welcome addition considering I'm battling a cold.

Rockets Game Notes vs. T-Birds Game 5

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and T-Birds are tied at two wins apiece heading into game five tonight at the Key Arena. The T-Birds evened the series after a 6-4 win in game four Tuesday night. Greg Scott’s shorthanded goal at the 8:16 mark of the third period broke a 4-4 tie, leading the T-Birds to the win. Colin Long led the Rockets with a goal and two assists while Brady Leavold, Jamie Benn and Kyle St. Denis also scored. Kristofer Westblom made 20 saves in the loss, as the Rockets went 1/7 on the power play. Tuesday’s win came after a 3-2 overtime victory by the T-Birds in game three Monday night. David Richard scored the game winner at the 15:12 mark of the extra session, in a period that saw the visitors out-shoot the Rockets 14-4. Richard’s goal in overtime was his hat-trick marker. Evan Bloodoff and Jamie Benn scored for the Rockets, who were 1/6 on the power play. Kristofer Westblom made 37 saves in the setback. The game three loss came on the heels of a Rockets 3-1 win in game two. Tyler Myers, Colin Long and Cody Almond scored power play goals in the victory. The Rockets were 3/8 on the power play while allowing just one goal shorthanded in six chances. The win came on the heels of a 3-2 victory for the Rockets in game one. Colin Long had three assists while Brady Leavold had two goals in the win. Leavold’s power-play goal at the 7:21 mark of the third period stood up as the game winner. It was Leavold’s 2nd goal of the night and 3rd career playoff goal. Kristofer Westblom made 27 saves in the win, as the Rockets went 2 for 5 with the power play.

Series Quick Hits: In the last ten playoff meetings between these two teams, dating back to the 2005 playoff series, the road team has won ten of those eleven games. The exception was a game seven home ice win by the Rockets in the 2005 playoff series…Colin Long has a point in every game in this series…Jamie Benn has a point in ever game in this series and has scored a goal in back-to-back games…Brady Leavold has a point in every game in this series…The line of Long, Benn and Leavold have combined for 19 points in the first four games, accounting for 59 percent of the teams scoring. The T-Birds top line of Holloway, Scott and Nielson have combined for just 6 points, or 26 percent of Seattle’s offensive output….The T-Birds have opened the scoring in three of the four games….Seven of the twelve goals the T-Birds have scored in this series have been on the power play….Of the 24 goals scored by both teams in this series, fourteen have come with the extra man….Canucks Director of Player Personnel Steve Tambellini took in Tuesday night’s game in Kelowna…Rockets veteran goaltender Kristofer Westblom has started in all four games while Jacob DeSerres played game three before being yanked after giving up two goals in the first 4:38 of game four. Riku Helenius started the first two games for Seattle…Westblom is now 5-3-0-0 in 9 career playoff appearances. Westblom was not credited with a win or a loss in a relief playoff appearance against Everett in 2006….The Rockets are now 6-0 in their last six stops in Seattle in the post season dating back to 2003. The Rockets last playoff loss in Seattle was April 22, 2003 in a 3-2 overtime setback Tyler Metcalfe scored the game winner in the second overtime period, despite the Rockets firing 52 shots on T-Birds goaltender Brent Krahn…

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Home Ice Disadvantage In This Series

  • You will have to pardon the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds for not feeling overly excited playing a playoff game on home ice. For the fourth straight game the road team rallied and earned the win in a series which is now down to a best of three. The Seattle Thunderbirds earned a 6-4 win Tuesday night, erasing a 2-0 series deficit after losing the first two games on home ice to the Rockets by scores of 3-2 and 3-1.
  • In the last eleven playoff meetings between these two teams dating back to the 2005 post season the visiting team has won 10 of those 11 games.
  • The Rockets won't like the officiating after this one, but will the Thunderbirds not have the same view? The Rockets were up 2-0 early and had outshot the visitors 8-0, yet found themselves two men down after penalties to Tysen Dowzak and Milan Kytnar. The penalties allowed the T-Birds to get back in the game, because up until that point the Rockets were in total command. That said, how bad was that penalty shot call that Kyle St. Denis was awarded? Steve Papp stunk, and fellow referee Trevor Hanson was equally inept.
  • For the first time in this series the Rockets opened the scoring, with Brady Leavold lighting the lamp just 25 seconds into the game. Jamie Benn would make it 2-0 on a power play goal less than five minutes in. After that goal though, T-Birds head coach Rob Sumner elected to pull starting goaltender Jacob DeSerres for Riku Helenius. The change was likely made in an effort to give his team some momentum, and indeed it worked. The visitors would score back-to-back goals on the power play as the two teams skated into the first intermission tied at two.
  • Again specialty teams played a huge factor in this game. The T-Birds would score three power play goals and received a short handed goal from Greg Scott in the third period to give the T-Birds a 5-4 lead, a lead they would never relinquish. The Rockets had just one power play goal, but got a gift when Kyle St. Denis was rewarded with a penalty shot with the home team trailing 4-3. St. Denis would score to make it a 4-4 tie, before Scott's shorthanded goal 1:04 later would stand up as the game winner.
  • Colin Long had a goal and two assists in the loss. Long now has a point in every game in this series. Brady Leavold again scored, and now has 3 goals in four games.
  • I couldn't help but notice the T-Birds shooting high on Rockets goaltender Kristofer Westblom. Of the six goals scored, five were scored on shots that either beat Westblom high to the glove hand or blocker side. When it comes to the playoffs, both teams are keenly aware of the oppositions weaknesses, including the shortcomings of the goaltenders.
  • This series is now down to a best of three. The first team to win two games advances to the next round. While game five is Thursday in Seattle, a game six will be played in Kelowna Saturday night.
  • Vancouver Canucks Director of Player Personnel Steve Tambellini took in Tuesday's game.

Quick Thoughts on Game 3

  • Seattle played their best game of the series. T-Birds head coach Rob Sumner - in a pre-game interview - wanted to see his team "play", and play they did with the opening goal just 31 seconds into the first period.
  • Sumner snapped at the officials early after a non-call on a collision in the neutral zone. Sumner had some choice words, which saw him pick up a two minute bench minor. While some would consider that a bad penalty to take, it showed me and likely the T-Bird players that the coach was fired up for this one. Sumner is often mild mannered, but like any good coach, gets fired up if he see's his team getting the short end of the stick.
  • The T-Birds were much more dangerous offensively in this one. Territorial play favored the visitors who did a better job of winning battles to loose pucks. While T-Birds leading scorer Bud Holloway has failed to break out in this series, it was his best game.
  • A lead in this series just isn't safe. The T-Birds have realized that first hand, opening up the scoring in all three games. Give the Rockets credit for battling back, and getting a big power play goal early in the third period from Jamie Benn to make it a 2-2 game.
  • The overtime was all Seattle. The T-Birds took the play to the Rockets, out-shooting them 14-4. While the Rockets were limited to few chances, Jamie Benn had an opportunity to end it with a quality shot on Seattle goaltender Jacob DeSerres. http://www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0454.MP3&nid=688606&
  • The game winner came off a failed clearing attempt by the Rockets. David Richard did all the work himself in scoring the game winning-hattrick goal. http://www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0453.MP3&nid=688607&
  • Is Thomas Hickey not the best 18 just turned 19 year-old defenseman in the Western Conference? The LA Kings didn't miss when drafting this guy.
  • The Rockets didn't have their 'A' game Monday night, but still managed to send the game into overtime.

Rockets Game 4 Notes vs. Seattle

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets lead Seattle two games to one in their best of seven Western Conference Quarter Final series after a 3-2 overtime win by the T-Birds in game three last night. David Richard scored the game winner at the 15:12 mark of the extra session, in a period that saw the visitors out-shoot the Rockets 14-4. Richard’s goal in overtime was his hat-trick marker. Evan Bloodoff and Jamie Benn scored for the Rockets, who were 1/6 on the power play. Kristofer Westblom made 37 saves in the setback. The win means a game five in the series will be played in Seattle Thursday night. The game three loss came on the heels of a Rockets 3-1 win in game two. Tyler Myers, Colin Long and Cody Almond scored power play goals in the victory. The Rockets were 3/8 on the power play while allowing just one goal shorthanded in six chances. The win came on the heels of a 3-2 victory for the Rockets in game one. Colin Long had three assists while Brady Leavold had two goals in the win. Leavold’s power-play goal at the 7:21 mark of the third period stood up as the game winner. It was Leavold’s 2nd goal of the night and 3rd career playoff goal. Kristofer Westblom made 27 saves in the win, as the Rockets went 2 for 5 with the power play.

Series Quick Hits: In the last ten playoff meetings between these two teams, dating back to the 2005 playoff series, the road team has won nine of those ten games. The exception was a game seven home ice win by the Rockets in the 2005 playoff series…The Rockets last overtime playoff loss at home prior to last night was in a 3-2 setback to the Kootenay Ice on March 24th, 2006. Ryan Russell scored the game winner just 27 seconds into the second overtime period. Russell’s goal came on the power play…The T-Birds have opened the scoring in all three games…Jamie Benn and Evan Bloodoff scored goals in last night’s loss, the first career playoff goals for both players…Defenseman Collin Bowman earned an assist on Bloodoff’s goal, his first career WHL playoff point…Four of the six goals the T-Birds have scored in this series have been on the power play….Of the 14 goals scored by both teams in this series, ten have come with the extra man….The winning team in all three games has managed to score just three goals…Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney watched last night’s game… Rockets veteran goaltender Kristofer Westblom has started in all three games while Jacob DeSerres got the call in goal in game three after Riku Helenius started the first two games for Seattle…Westblom is now 5-2-0-0 in 8 career playoff appearances. Westblom was not credited with a win or a loss in a relief playoff appearance against Everett in 2006….The Rockets are now 6-0 in their last six stops in Seattle in the post season dating back to 2003. The Rockets last playoff loss in Seattle was April 22, 2003 in a 3-2 overtime setback Tyler Metcalfe scored the game winner in the second overtime period, despite the Rockets firing 52 shots on T-Birds goaltender Brent Krahn…

This and That: The Rockets won 38 games this season, marking the 13th time in the teams 17 year history they have registered 30 or more wins in a season….The Rockets scored 248 goals, fourth most in the Western Conference behind Tri City (262), Spokane (251) and Vancouver (250). The Rockets scored 92 goals more than a year ago. Colin Long was 2nd in WHL scoring this season with 100 points, becoming the first Rocket since Jesse Schultz (104 points in 2002-2003) to hit the milestone. Jamie Benn led WHL rookies in goals scored (33), while Tyson Barrie led rookie defenseman in scoring (9+34=44). The Rockets had eight players who scored 15 or more goals this season. Last year just three Rockets hit the bench mark. Those three were Chris Ray (19), Justin Bernhardt (15) and Cody Almond (15).

Playoff Experience Leaders: Veterans Colin Joe and overage forward James McEwan lead the Rockets in playoff experience with 18 games. Luke Schenn is next on the list with 15 playoff games.

Rockets vs. Divisions:
vs. BC: 22-12-0-2 vs. US: 7-9-2-0 vs. Central: 4-2-0-1 vs. East: 5-3-0-2

Rockets Players by Province: BC=12 US=4 ALB=3 SASK=2 MAN=1 EURO=1 Total=23

Rockets Schedule - Next 5 Games: Rockets Results - Last 5 Games:
Game #5 of Playoffs Rockets 2 Americans 4 L
Game #6 of Playoffs Rockets 6 Cougars 2 W
Game #7 of Playoffs Rockets 3 Seattle 2 W
Potentially Round Two Rockets 3 Seattle 1 W
Potentially Round Two Rockets 2 Seattle 3 OTL

Record by Month:

Month Games Record Home Road
September: 4 1-2-1-0 0-1-1-0 1-1-0-0
October: 11 5-5-0-1 3-3-0-1 2-2-0-0
November: 13 9-2-1-1 4-1-0-0 5-1-1-1
December: 12 6-4-0-2 2-1-0-0 4-3-0-2
January: 13 10-2-0-1 8-0-0-0 2-2-0-1
February: 11 3-7-0-1 2-5-0-0 1-2-0-1
March: 8 4-4-0-0 2-2-0-0 2-2-0-0

Rockets Season Highs and Lows:
Most Goals Scored: 11 @ Prince George Jan 11/08 in an 11-1 win.
Most Goals Allowed: 9 vs. Lethbridge February 1/08 in a 9-4 loss.
Most Power Play Chances: 11 @ Chilliwack Feb 2/08 in a 6-3 loss, @ Swift Current Jan 25/08. The Rockets were 0/11, losing 4-0.
Most Power Play Goals Scored: 4 @ Cougars Jan 11/08 (11-1 W), vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W)
Most Power Play Goals Allowed: 4 @ Vancouver Dec 29/07 (5-2 L), @ Everett Sept 29/07
Most Shots Taken: 41 @ Prince George Jan 12/08 (5-2 W).
Fewest Shots Taken: 9 @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 (5-0L)
Most Shot Allowed: 48 @ Vancouver Sept 30/07
Fewest Shots Allowed: 11 vs. Chilliwack Mar 12/08 (5-4 W), 13 vs. Blazers Oct 30/07 (6-1 W)
Last Shutout: - Kristofer Westblom 22 saves vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win. Kristofer Westblom 28 saves vs. Calgary (5-0 W)
Last Time Shutout: - @ Swift Current Jan 25/08 – Guggenberger 30 saves (4-0 L)
Most Points by a Player: Jamie Benn had 2+4=6 vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Most Goals by a Player: Brady Leavold scored 4 goals vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Penalty Shots: Dylan Hood fails to score Feb 16/08 in a 3-2 shootout win vs. Edmonton. Juuso Puustinen fails to score on Torrie Jung Feb 8/08 in a Rockets 2-1 shootout loss to the Blazers. Lucas Bloodoff fails to score on Justin Leclerc in 4-3 loss to Kamloops December 28th. Torrie Jung stops Bruins forward Cody Smuk in a 4-1 win in Chilliwack Dec 31/07. Torrie Jung stops Hawks forward Luke Walker Nov 17/07 in a 4-1 win in Portland. Kristofer Westblom stops Everett’s Shane Harper in a 3-2 overtime loss Nov 16/07 in Everett. Torrie Jung stopped Michal Repik in the 3rd period of a 5-0 loss Sept 29/07.
Overtime Winning Goal: Jamie Benn scored at 4:59 December 15/07 in a 3-2 win in Saskatoon. Tyler Myers scored at 3:58 of overtime December 5/07 in a 4-3 win over Medicine Hat. Colin Long scored at :44 of overtime Nov 23/07 in a 7-6 win over Kootenay. Jamie Benn scored at 1:07 of overtime Nov 2/07 in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.
Shootout Game Winning Goals: Cody Almond scores vs. Chilliwack Mar 7/08 in a 4-3 win. Colin Long scores vs. Giants Feb 24/08 in a 3-2 win. Tyson Barrie scores vs. Edmonton Feb in a 3-2 shootout win. Dylan Hood scores in a 4-3 win in Seattle October 6/07. Colin Long scored the game winner in a 2-1 win over Vancouver October 24th.
Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3 Westblom, McEwan, Leavold
19’s – 3 Dowzak, MacRae, Joe
18’s – 8 Long, Kytnar, L. Bloodoff, Jung, Schenn, Almond, Benn
17’s – 6 St. Denis, E. Bloodoff, McIntosh, Myers, McMillan, Hood
16’s – 4 Bowman, Barrie, Paradis, Verdino
Average Age: 17.7
Rookies – 7

NHL Draft Picks-Training Camp Attendees: Jamie Benn (Dallas 07), Torrie Jung (Tampa Bay 07), Cody Almond (Minnesota 07), Milan Kytnar (Oilers 07), Tysen Dowzak (Tryout Philadelphia).

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel (AM 1150)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tightening the Noose on The T-Birds

  • The biggest mistake for the Rockets in game three is to let the T-Birds off the hook. Making a hit, taking a hit to make a play, and playing a role for the betterment of the team is again needed tonight. A loss by the Rockets in game three makes this a brand new series.
  • Evan Bloodoff, Myles MacRae and Dylan Hood are just three players who have sacrificed their body for the sake of the team. Hood is the first to loose pucks while MacRae and Bloodoff have thrown caution to the wind in taking big hits to make big plays. Your courageous play has not gone unnoticed gentleman.
  • I question if the Rockets have played this physical this season?
  • Look for the T-Birds to play their best game of the series tonight. Essentially tonight's game is a must win situation for Seattle. Going down 3-0 with game four Tuesday at Prospera Place would be a huge undertaking for the visitors.
  • The T-Birds have opened the scoring in both games in this playoff series.
  • The T-Bird have failed to score a even strength goal in the series, with all three of their goals coming on the power play.
  • Of the 9 goals scored by both teams in this series, eight have come with the extra man.
  • Rockets veteran goaltender Kristofer Westblom has started in back-to-back games while Riku Helenius has started both games in goal for Seattle. Westblom is now 5-1-0-0 in 7 career playoff appearances. Westblom was not credited with a win or a loss in a relief playoff appearance against Everett in 2006.
  • The two teams have been tied going into the third period in both games.
  • The Rockets are playing their first playoff game at home since April 14, 2006 in a 3-2 overtime win against the Everett Silvertips.
  • The Rockets are now 6-0 in their last six stops in Seattle in the post season dating back to 2003. The Rockets last playoff loss in Seattle was April 22, 2003 in a 3-2 overtime setback. Tyler Metcalfe scored the game winner in the second overtime period, despite the Rockets firing 52 shots on T-Birds goaltender Brent Krahn.
  • Kristofer Westblom and Colin Joe celebrate birthdays on Wednesday. Westblom turns 21 while Joe turns 20.
  • The Rockets and T-Birds are expected to compete for a WHL championship next season. The two teams have just six combined 1988 born players on their roster. The Rockets have Myles MacRae, Colin Joe and Tysen Dowzak while the T-Birds 19 year-olds are Bud Holloway, Greg Scott and goaltender Riku Helenius. Oddly enough the two teams each have seven players on their roster from the 1989 age group, or 18 years of age.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Caution When Up 2-0

  • The Kelowna Rockets should be applauded for their efforts thanks to a 2-0 series lead over Seattle after back-to-back wins on the road. Yet caution must be taken considering the T-Birds had a 2-0 lead on the Rockets in a 2005 playoff series after back-to-back wins on the road before eventually losing the series in 6 games.
  • The two team's power plays are the big story in the first two games. The Rockets scored all three goals in Saturday's 3-1 win with the extra man, while Seattle has managed to score all three of their goals in the series with the man advantage.
  • Unlike what we saw in game one, the Rockets were the more physical team Saturday night. Again Luke Schenn was a rock defensively, but it was Tyler Myers who had a flare offensively that turned a few heads. Myers had a goal and an assist and was named the games first star.
  • I thought the Rockets did a good job of not allowing the T-Birds time and space to use their speed game. The d-core was especially good at making contact at ever turn, which appeared to wear down the T-Birds as the game went on.
  • Rookie Kyle St. Denis also played well, making a picture perfect pass to Cody Almond in the Rockets third goal of the night. Here is the audio of the goal. http://www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0446.MP3&nid=687399&
  • St. Denis was especially effective on the power play when it appeared that Jamie Benn and Brady Leavold struggled in the tight checking affair.
  • How good is Seattle's Thomas Hickey? Hickey plays a ton, is a tremendous passer and can skate with the best of them. Rockets fans will be in for a treat in games three and four as they watch Hickey against fellow Team Canada teammate Luke Schenn.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher took in both games on the weekend in Seattle. Fletcher had to like what he saw from Myers, Schenn and Brandon McMillan, who has a renewed confidence playing on a line with Almond and St. Denis.
  • The officiating crew of Nathan Weiler and Carle Poole were extremely bad in this one. Both called numerous penalties, that were soft calls at best. I will admit many of the calls came against Seattle, much to the dismay of those in attendance.
  • Colin Long's parents made it down for weekend games, as did Brady Leavold and Tyson Barrie's dad.
  • Games three and four are Monday and Tuesday at Prospera Place. Tickets are still available for both games.
  • The Rockets feel fortunate to be up 2 games to none after escaping with a 3-2 win in game one Friday night. The victory didn't come without some anxious moments as they attempted to protect a one goal lead. http://www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0437.MP3&nid=687286&

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.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Westy Gets the Nod


Veteran goaltender Kristofer Westblom gets the start in goal Friday night in game one of the best of seven playoff series with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Westblom has just 5 WHL playoff games of experience, yet played for the Rockets at the 2005 Memorial Cup in London Ontario. Congrats to Colin Long and Luke Schenn for being named Western Conference all-stars today. Long was a first team all-star, Schenn a second team selection. I thought it was interesting that Evander Kane of the Vancouver Giants was named the Western Conference nominee for rookie of the year. The Rockets Tyson Barrie played on a much younger team and led all rookie d-man in scoring.

Rockets Game Notes vs. T-Birds

Tonight’s Preview: Welcome to the WHL playoffs! The Rockets are back in the playoffs after missing the post season for the first time in franchise history in 2006-2007. The Rockets were 1-3-0-0 in four games against the T-Birds during the regular season. The T-Birds outscored the Rockets 17-8 in those four games. These two teams are meeting or the 4th time in the playoffs. The T-Birds beat the Rockets in 6 games in the 2001 playoffs, before the Rockets won a 6 game series in the Western Conference Final in 2003. In the last playoff meeting between the two teams, in 2005, The Rockets used 7 games in defeating the Birds in the Western Conference Semi Finals. Game one and two of the best of seven is tonight and Saturday in Seattle before switching to Kelowna for games three and four Monday and Tuesday. If a game five is necessary it will be played next Thursday in Seattle with game six back in Kelowna Saturday March 29th.

Regular Season Review vs. T-Birds: Both Kristofer Westblom and Torrie Jung split the four games against Seattle. Westblom was in goal in the Rockets lone win, a 4-3 shootout victory in Seattle. While the T-Birds out-shot the Rockets in three of the four games, the Rockets managed 109 shots on goal in the four games (27.3 per game) compared to the T-Birds 103 (25.8 per game). The Rockets were 3 for 22 on the power play in the four games (18.2%) while Seattle was 5 for 25 (20%) with the extra man.

Seasonal Series Scoring:
Period: 1 2 3 OT SO Total
Rockets: 4 2 1 0 1 8
T-Birds: 7 5 5 0 0 17

Handing Out Hardware: Colin Long was named the MVP at the Rockets annual awards banquet Tuesday night. Long also picked up the top scorer award. Jamie Benn was named the co-winner of the Rookie of the year with defenseman Tyson Barrie while being named the Top Defensive Forward. Benn also won the Top Plus/Minus honor. For the second straight year Luke Schenn was named the Top Defenseman, while Collin Bowman was named the Unsung Hero. Veteran Goaltender Kristofer Westblom was the Humanitarian of the year while Tyler Myers was the Scholastic Player of the year. Kyle St. Denis was named the Most Sportsmanlike.

Rockets Review: The Rockets won 38 games this season, marking the 13th time in the teams 17 year history they have registered 30 or more wins in a season. The Rockets scored 248 goals, fourth most in Western Conference behind Tri City (262), Spokane (251) and Vancouver (250). The Rockets scored 92 goals more than a year ago. Colin Long was 2nd in WHL scoring this season with 100 points, becoming the first Rocket since Jesse Schultz (104 points in 2002-2003) to hit the milestone. Jamie Benn led WHL rookies in goals scored (33), while Tyson Barrie led rookie defenseman in scoring (9+34=44). The Rockets had eight players who scored 15 or more goals this season. Last year just three Rockets hit the bench mark. Those three were Chris Ray (19), Justin Bernhardt (15) and Cody Almond (15). Only two players on the Rockets roster failed to register new career highs in points. Those two players were Luke Schenn and Myles MacRae.

Shining Statistically:
This Yr Last Yr +/-
Colin Long: 100 pts 28 pts +72
Brady Leavold: 69 pts 35 pts +34
Brandon McMillan: 41 pts 12 pts +29
Evan Bloodoff: 27 pts 8 pts +21

Playoff Experience Leaders: Veterans Colin Joe and overage forward James McEwan lead the Rockets in playoff experience with 15 games. Luke Schenn is next on the list with 12 playoff games. Surprisingly 20 year-olds Brady Leavold (6 games) and Kristofer Westblom (5 games) do not lead the way. The Rockets defensive core has just 43 games of playoff experience combined. Tyson Barrie and Collin Bowman are making their WHL playoff debuts tonight. Thirteen of the Rockets 23 man roster has never played a playoff game.

Quick Hitters:
Brady Leavold played in his 200th WHL game last Saturday against Prince George.…Colin Long was the only Rocket to play in all 72 games this season…When Jamie Benn scored this season the Rockets were 16-6-0-3.…Benn made his WHL debut against Seattle October 5th…Benn played in just two of the Rockets four games in the seasonal series with the T-Birds…James McEwan played 103 games with the T-Birds between 2004 and 2006. McEwan had 540 career penalty minutes over four seasons in the WHL…The Rockets have scored a power play goal in 16 of their last 20 games….The Rockets have just three road wins in their last 11 games. The Rockets are (3-7-0-1) over that period…The Rockets are 8-7-0-0 in their last 15 home games…Kristofer Westblom has started in seven of the Rockets last 10 games, yet Torrie Jung has started in three straight.

Rockets vs. Divisions:
vs. BC: 22-12-0-2 vs. US: 7-9-2-0 vs. Central: 4-2-0-1 vs. East: 5-3-0-2

Rockets Players by Province: BC=12 US=4 ALB=3 SASK=2 MAN=1 EURO=1 Total=23

Rockets Schedule - Next 5 Games: Rockets Results - Last 5 Games:
Game #2 of Playoffs Rockets 0 Tri City 2 L
Game #3 of Playoffs Rockets 4 Chilliwack 3 SOW
Game #4 of Playoffs Rockets 5 Chilliwack 4 W
Game #5 of Playoffs Rockets 2 Americans 4 L
Game #6 of Playoffs Rockets 6 Cougars 2 W

Record by Month:
Month Games Record Home Road
September: 4 1-2-1-0 0-1-1-0 1-1-0-0
October: 11 5-5-0-1 3-3-0-1 2-2-0-0
November: 13 9-2-1-1 4-1-0-0 5-1-1-1
December: 12 6-4-0-2 2-1-0-0 4-3-0-2
January: 13 10-2-0-1 8-0-0-0 2-2-0-1
February: 11 3-7-0-1 2-5-0-0 1-2-0-1
March: 8 4-4-0-0 2-2-0-0 2-2-0-0

Rockets Season Highs and Lows:
Most Goals Scored: 11 @ Prince George Jan 11/08 in an 11-1 win.
Most Goals Allowed: 9 vs. Lethbridge February 1/08 in a 9-4 loss.
Most Power Play Chances: 11 @ Chilliwack Feb 2/08 in a 6-3 loss, @ Swift Current Jan 25/08. The Rockets were 0/11, losing 4-0.
Most Power Play Goals Scored: 4 @ Cougars Jan 11/08 (11-1 W), vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W)
Most Power Play Goals Allowed: 4 @ Vancouver Dec 29/07 (5-2 L), @ Everett Sept 29/07
Most Shots Taken: 41 @ Prince George Jan 12/08 (5-2 W).
Fewest Shots Taken: 9 @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 (5-0L)
Most Shot Allowed: 48 @ Vancouver Sept 30/07
Fewest Shots Allowed: 11 vs. Chilliwack Mar 12/08 (5-4 W), 13 vs. Blazers Oct 30/07 (6-1 W)
Last Shutout: - Kristofer Westblom 22 saves vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win. Kristofer Westblom 28 saves vs. Calgary (5-0 W)
Last Time Shutout: - @ Swift Current Jan 25/08 – Guggenberger 30 saves (4-0 L)
Most Points by a Player: Jamie Benn had 2+4=6 vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Most Goals by a Player: Brady Leavold scored 4 goals vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Penalty Shots: Dylan Hood fails to score Feb 16/08 in a 3-2 shootout win vs. Edmonton. Juuso Puustinen fails to score on Torrie Jung Feb 8/08 in a Rockets 2-1 shootout loss to the Blazers. Lucas Bloodoff fails to score on Justin Leclerc in 4-3 loss to Kamloops December 28th. Torrie Jung stops Bruins forward Cody Smuk in a 4-1 win in Chilliwack Dec 31/07. Torrie Jung stops Hawks forward Luke Walker Nov 17/07 in a 4-1 win in Portland. Kristofer Westblom stops Everett’s Shane Harper in a 3-2 overtime loss Nov 16/07 in Everett. Torrie Jung stopped Michal Repik in the 3rd period of a 5-0 loss Sept 29/07.
Overtime Winning Goal: Jamie Benn scored at 4:59 December 15/07 in a 3-2 win in Saskatoon. Tyler Myers scored at 3:58 of overtime December 5/07 in a 4-3 win over Medicine Hat. Colin Long scored at :44 of overtime Nov 23/07 in a 7-6 win over Kootenay. Jamie Benn scored at 1:07 of overtime Nov 2/07 in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.
Shootout Game Winning Goals: Cody Almond scores vs. Chilliwack Mar 7/08 in a 4-3 win. Colin Long scores vs. Giants Feb 24/08 in a 3-2 win. Tyson Barrie scores vs. Edmonton Feb in a 3-2 shootout win. Dylan Hood scores in a 4-3 win in Seattle October 6/07. Colin Long scored the game winner in a 2-1 win over Vancouver October 24th.
Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3 Westblom, McEwan, Leavold
19’s – 3 Dowzak, MacRae, Joe
18’s – 8 Long, Kytnar, L. Bloodoff, Jung, Schenn, Almond, Benn
17’s – 6 St. Denis, E. Bloodoff, McIntosh, Myers, McMillan, Hood
16’s – 4 Bowman, Barrie, Paradis, Verdino
Average Age: 17.7
Rookies – 7

NHL Draft Picks-Training Camp Attendees: Jamie Benn (Dallas 07), Torrie Jung (Tampa Bay 07), Cody Almond (Minnesota 07), Milan Kytnar (Oilers 07), Tysen Dowzak (Tryout Philadelphia).

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel (AM 1150)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • James McEwan can't hold back his excitement as he faces his old team in the opening round of the 2008 playoffs. McEwan played 103 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds from 2004-2006 before he was given his release. You shouldn't expect McEwan on the score-sheet much in the series, but you have to know he will be giving it his all against his old team.
  • Seattle fans may get a better appreciation of Rockets rookie defenseman Tyson Barrie in this series. Seattle fans, just imagine a clone of Thomas Hickey. In fact when Hickey was just 16, the skilled d-man put up 28 points. Barrie had 43 points - 15 more than Hickey in his 16 year-old season. The two can skate and love to go to the attack offensively. Hickey has now learned to play defensive, something Barrie will grasp as he matures.
  • Why would I be optimistic about the Rockets chances against the T-Birds in this series? Jamie Benn didn't play in two of the four games, plus Benn's WHL debut in early October came in back-to-back games with the T-Birds. To say Benn was just getting his feet wet on that night would be an understatement. The T-Birds simple have not seen the best of Benn. Let's hope they do in round one.
  • It's interesting that Hickey and Rockets d-man Luke Schenn battle in the opening round of the playoffs. The two were teammates, and gold medal winners for Canada at the World Juniors. The two were not only teammates, but d-partners and roommates.
  • Who starts in goal for the Rockets in game one? Torrie Jung and Kristofer Westblom split duties in the seasonal series, with Westblom winning the lone game against the 'Birds', in a 4-3 shootout win way back in October. Do you go with the goaltender of the future or the veteran? I thought this question wouldn't even come up at this time of the year.
  • It would be interesting if Jung started in goal against Seattle's Riku Helenius. The two are draft picks of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning. Helenius is the Lightning's first pick in 2006 while Jung was a 7th rounder in 07.
  • Three Kelowna Rockets will celebrate birthdays during the series. Kris Westblom will turn 21 March 26th while Colin Joe turns 20 on that same day. Brandon McMillan turns 18 on March 22nd, or on the day of game two of the series.
  • Can you name the Rockets defenseman with the most playoff experience? If Colin Joe is your answer, you are correct. Joe has 15 games of playoff experience followed by Luke Schenn with 12. Joe and Tyler Myers are the only defenseman to have bragging rights of scoring a playoff goal. Joe scored against Everett in 2006, while Myers first WHL goal came in a playoff series as a 15 year-old against Kootenay.
  • When I heard the Rockets would meet the T-Birds in the opening round, my thoughts turned to baseball. In the past we've been able to see a game on an off day in a Rockets-Seattle playoff series, but that won't be the case in this post season. The Mariners open the season April 1st against Texas, the same night the T-Birds would host game seven. Their goes that idea.
  • What is my greatest fear as a broadcaster going into games one and two at the Key Arena minus a colour analyst? If the plexi glass should shatter, if the penalty box door gets jammed, or if the Zamboni breaks down, I'm screwed. We are in for a long delay. While Prospera Place has a game night ice crew that likely consists of no less than 6 employees, the Key Arena Ice crew consists of far less. Prior to game time the only one I ever see is the Zamboni driver. Gulp!
  • The Portland Winter Hawks just can't win this season. When I saw that the Red Deer Rebels, not the Portland Winter Hawks, would choose first in the upcoming WHL bantam draft, I just shook my head. They could have had a thousand balls in that drum and the Hawks would have still lost.
  • The Canadian World Junior Team is looking for a new coaching staff after Craig Hartsburg and his two assistant elected to step aside from the program Would Marc Habscheid be interested in the head coaching duties - again?