Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Playoff Date With Someone From Washington State

  • For the first time since the 2005 season, the Kelowna Rockets are off to the second round of the playoffs. Jamie Benn put in his best performance of the series with a goal and three assists leading the Rockets to a 5-3 win, eliminating the Kamloops Blazers in four games.
  • Let's face it the pressure was squarely on the shoulders of the Rockets to win this series, and win it handily. Everyone picked the Rockets to make short work of them, yet the Blazers were anything but a push over. Opening round upsets are always a possibility, and the Rockets avoided becoming a casualty. Any playoff loss from here on in will not be considered an upset, especially if Tri City and Spokane advance to the final four in the Western Conference.
  • Rockets forward Mikael Backlund left Wednesday's game after the first period and didn't return.
  • The win was the Rockets 13th straight over the Blazers this season. Nine of those wins came during the regular season with four more coming in the playoffs.
  • The Rockets are no stranger to beating the Blazers in the opening round. The Rockets used four games to end the Blazers season back in 2002.
  • The Rockets power play, which struggled in the series, struck for two goals in Wednesdays win. In the series the man advantage went just 4 for 33, and gave up three shorthanded goals. The Rockets had 14 more power plays than the Blazers in the four games.
  • The Blazers opened the scoring in three of the four games.
  • The greatest struggle for the Blazers was their inability to get big games from their top players. C.J Stretch, the Blazers leading point getter during the regular season, had just one goal in the series.
  • I thought it should be noted that Blazer forward Brendan Ranford took the series loss especially hard. The sixteen year-old was seen at centre ice shedding a tear as the Blazers raised their sticks in the air, thanking the fans for their support. Ranford is a young player who cares about his team and doesn't take losing lightly. It's that type of attitude and emotional attachment to winning that will be needed for this Blazer franchise to break out of a funk of being a first round casualty for an 11th straight playoff series.
  • The Blazers have lost 15 straight playoff games dating back to 2005.
  • The Rockets don't know who they will face in the second round of the playoffs, but they will be playing one of either, Tri City, Spokane, or Seattle. Bottom line is they are playing a team from Washington state.
  • Rockets forward Brett Bulmer is flying back to Prince George today after spending the last few days with the team. Bulmer didn't see any playoff action, but practiced with the team and accompanied them during games three and four in Kamloops. The grade 11 student will most likely be with the team full time next season.
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