Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seasonal series may be deceiving

  • The Rockets and Americans met four times this season, with the Am's winning all four games by a combined score of 20-5. Looks bad on paper right? Let's remember that the Rockets opened the 2009-2010 road schedule in Tri City with a 6-1 loss. Not making excuses, but the Rockets no longer have six players from that night that are currently playing with the existing team. Of those six, only Kyle St. Denis is technically with the organization.
  • It was weird scheduling this season. The Rockets and Americans met four times in Kelowna's first 31 games. So essentially they didn't see each other in the second half of the season. Is it fair to say the Rockets were a much different team in the second half? I think it is. The Americans didn't change much. They were as good in the first half as they were in the second half. You don't play consistent hockey all season long and come three wins shy of 50. They were darn good from start to finish. Hello - 97 points!
  • Here are the scores in the seasonal series: (6-1 L) and (5-1 L) in Tri City and (4-2 L) and (5-1 L) in Kelowna.
  • The Rockets were 4 for 25 on the power play in the seasonal series (16%) while the Am's were 4 for 19 (21.1%)
  • The Americans out-shot the Rockets 128-107 in the four games. The Americans averaged 32 shots on goal while the Rockets fired 26.8 shots the other way.
  • The Americans out-scored the Rockets 7-1 in the first period in the four games and 7-2 in the second period. The third wasn't much better, where the Ams had 6 goals compared to the Rockets two.
  • These two teams met in last years Western Conference semi finals with the Rockets winning in six games. The Rockets were 1 and 2 at the Toyota Center in that series, losing 4-3 and 3-2 before earning a 5-2 win April 10th in game five.
  • Since the Rockets re-located to Kelowna for the start of the 2005-06 season, these two teams have met three previous times in the playoffs. In 1996, Tri City was a winner in six games in the opening round. In 2004, the Rockets used six games to advance to the conference finals. Obviously last season the Rockets won a second round series, also in six games.
  • Rockets captain Lucas Bloodoff was a 6th round draft pick of the Americans in the 2004 WHL Bantam draft. Bloodoff never played a game with the Americans, before being traded to Kelowna June 2/2006.
  • Riley McIntosh is now a 19 year-old d-man with the Americans. McIntosh, a second round pick of the Rockets in 2005, was picked just behind Tyler Myers and ahead of Brandon McMillan, who was the Rockets 3rd round selection in that draft.
  • 333 miles. That's the distance from Kelowna to Tri City. In kilometers that adds up to 535 k. The trip can easily be completed in five hours for those wishing to watch the Rockets on the road. If you compare that distance to an opening round playoff series with Everett, the difference is just 25 kilometers more.
  • It's interesting to note that no less than a days grace has been given between games played in the two cities. In other words, you won't see the teams battling in Tri City one night and then busing through the night to play in Kelowna the next. We saw that in round one where the two teams played in Everett in game five and raced each other back to Kelowna for game six one night later.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A hot overage goaltender can take you a long way

Danny Battochio.
Danny Battochio.
If that name sounds vaguely familiar, he was a 20 year-old goaltender who played for the Ottawa 67's at the 2005 Memorial Cup in London, Ontario.
Battochio backstopped a 67's team that finished the 2004-2005 regular season with 34 wins, just one fewer than the Kelowna Rockets this season.
The 67's would finish as the 6th seed in their conference, the same seeding position as the Rockets in 2009-2010.
With Battochio providing solid goaltending, the 67's would beat third seeded Barrie in round one.
The 67's would then upset Sudbury in round two before using just four games to sweep Peterborough in the conference final.
The magic would eventually run out on Battochio and the 67's, who would lose to London in the 2005 OHL final. But because the Knights were hosting the Memorial Cup, the 67's got in as the league runner-up.
It's interesting that should the Brandon Wheat Kings win the league title this season, the runner-up will be awarded a Memorial Cup birth.
What Battochio and his 6th seeded Ottawa 67's teammates showed in 2005 is that indeed a red hot overage goaltender and a solid work ethic by the players in front of him can out duel teams with a significantly higher skill level.
Is Mark Guggenberger the next Danny Battochio to lead a 6th seeded team on a magical playoff ride?
Who knows.
What is clear is a 20 year-old goalie can take you a long way in the playoffs, even if you are a 6th seed.
Want proof?
Look no further than Danny Battochio.

Guggenberger saved his best for last

  • Mark Guggenberger's performance in last years WHL final is still haunting several members of the Calgary Hitmen. You can now add the Everett Silvertips to that list. The 21 year-old goaltender was the best player on the ice Monday night, and needed to be, in a 2-1 win over the Tips, in the seventh and deciding game of their opening round playoff series. The Rockets win the series four games to three.
  • Guggenberger, who gave up a soft opening goal in game six, closed the door shut in a third period dominated by the Tips. Everett stormed the net in the final period looking for the equalizing goal, but either found a shot hitting a shin pad of a Rockets defender or hitting a portion of Guggenberger's 6 foot 3 frame.
  • One of the main reasons why the Tips dominated play in the third was the Rockets top players were exhausted after attempting to kill off five power plays in the second period alone. Fatigue was a factor coupled with the Tips being a creative team in the offensive zone. They threw everything at the Rockets in the third period, but a 'Kevin Constantine shot blocking clinic' had the Tips unable to find the back of the net.
  • For the first time in this series the Rockets opened the scoring. Radko Gudas, injected back in the lineup after missing four games with a shoulder injury, took an early roughing penalty. Dallas Jackson's point shot was tipped at the side of the net by Geordie Wudrick to give the Rockets the 1-0 lead. It was Wudrick's WHL leading 8th goal of the playoffs.
  • Captain Lucas Bloodoff is credited with the game winning goal in the second period, a goal that had to be reviewed because of a possible high stick. On the ice the officials did not call it a goal, yet on video it clearly showed the goal was good.
  • The Tips appeared to be tight in game seven. Forward Clayton Cumiskey has a breakaway early in the first period and essentially doesn't get a shot off after fumbling the puck, and top scorer Shane Harper also has a glorious scoring chance on Guggenberger late in the third period and also loses control of the puck.
  • This was the Rockets second seven game series win since the team re-located to Kelowna. The Rockets beat Seattle in 2005. The Rockets also lost in 2004 to Everett in seven games and lost to Seattle in an opening round seven game series in 2008.
  • The seven game series win will never take away the sting of losing to the Tips in 2004, but it will ease the pain a bit. The Rockets were huge favourites in 04, and lost, while the Tips were 21 points better than the Rockets in this years playoff and suffered the same fate.
  • The most surprising defenceman in this series for me was Rockets rookie Colton Jobke. Again a great effort by the 17 year-old in game seven, playing alongside Collin Bowman. Jobke is making smart decisions with the puck, and is being rewarded with ice time. Do you notice that he often gets blasted into the end board by a big hit after attempting to clear a puck? But do you also notice that Jobke is fearless to go for the puck and isn't scared to get hit to make a play? Impressive.
  • The Rockets advance to the second round of the playoffs where they face the Tri City Americans. The point differential between the two teams is exactly the same as it was against the Tips. The Rockets and Americans met four times during the regular season with the Am's winning all four games. Funny thing is, the two teams didn't meet one another after the trade deadline. The last game they played against one another was December 5th.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rockets Win!!

Rockets 2 Tips 1
Rockets win series in 7 games.

No secrets in game seven

  • Tips head coach Craig Hartsburg told me this morning that 19 year-old Radko Gudas will play tonight. Gudas has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury. Gudas was seen taking light contact on his shoulder during this mornings workout at Comcast Arena. Gudas, a Western Conference second team all-star, led the Tips with a +45 rating and collected 151 penalty minutes. I would be surprised if he made those big open ice hits that we are accustomed to seeing, but never say never.
  • Hartsburg also confirmed to me that d-man Chris de la Lande won't play. The 19 year-old was hurt in game three in Kelowna.
  • Do you need to be motivated for game seven? You shouldn't. As a player, this is what you thirst for. You want nothing more than to play in a one game showdown where your hockey season is on the line. Few players get to experience a game seven at this level. The 40 players (18 skaters and two goaltenders x2) participating tonight should consider themselves the lucky few.
  • The Rockets should be playing for the crest on the front of their jersey, but indeed it goes far beyond that in my view. Play for injured forward Cody Chikie, who will most certainly see some playing time in the second round if his team indeed advances. Chikie's season was essentially over once he broke his collar bone late in the season. That could all change with a gutsy effort from his teammates in game seven.
  • Play for Kyle St. Denis. St-D would give a bad shoulder or a bum knee for a clear head. St. Denis would take any one's spot, backup goaltender included, to be on the Rockets bench tonight wearing his Rockets uniform. Feel fortunate you are in the lineup in game seven and play like it.
  • I thought Tips head coach Craig Hartsburg said it best when explaining what the Rockets have that his team doesn't. He said, "the Rockets have intangibles that we don't. They play with grit, something we are learning to play with." The Rockets have the experience of playing in pressure packed games.
  • All that's left is the opening face-off. May the team with the best determination, desire and work ethic win. The team that puts it all on the line tonight deserves to move on. It should be the best game of the series.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Game six was a lot of fun, but now it's time to get it done

  • The Rockets have won three of the last four games in this playoff series. If that doesn't make you optimistic about the Rockets chances in game seven, I don't know what will. In saying that, it won't come easy. The Rockets will need to play with the same type of desperation they displayed on home ice in order to advance to the next round. Anything less will result is a disappointing loss.
  • Grit and determination will rein supreme at the end of the day. The team that is willing to bring that to the table in game seven will win. Grit and determination will always prevail over skill.
  • Is it just me, or when Rockets captain Lucas Bloodoff puts out a maximum effort and plays with determination, his teammates follow? Bloodoff was at his best in game six and he showed up twice on the score sheet. More importantly, others followed in his footsteps which made the Rockets a tough team to play against. Why was Tyler Matheson, Max Adolph, Codey Ito and Jessey Astles so effective in game six? Lucas Bloodoff's lead can not be overlooked.
  • Did you notice who was on the ice in the final minutes of game six? Rookie d-man Colton Jobke did a tremendous job late in the game of keeping the Tips off the scoreboard. Jobke ended the game a +2 and collected two assists.
  • You may be surprised to hear this, but the best Tips forward in this series has been Clayton Cumiskey. Sure, Shane Harper has produced offensively, but Cumiskey has been the real story of this series for the Tips. When you play that hard through six games and your line is often the first to receive ice time during the opening face-off, you can see that Cumiskey, Dan Iwanski and Scott MacDonald are being looked upon with favour by Everett head coach Craig Hartsburg.
  • The big surprise for me in this series is the play of the Tips goaltenders. Neither has stolen a game for the Tips. I thought the duo of Thomas Heemskerk and Kent Simpson would outplay Adam Brown and Mark Guggenberger, but that hasn't been the case. All four goaltenders have allowed suspect goals in the first six games. The goaltender that outplays the other 200 feet down the ice tonight will undoubtedly see his team playing Friday night in round two.
  • Considering this is the final game of the series, I want to congratulate both teams for a great six games. What a back and forth, momentum turning series this has been. Outside of game five, the games have all been in doubt until late in the 3rd period. It's been a fun series to be apart of. The fans have been great, especially the gentleman in Everett who turns on a red light when the Tips score and flashes it in front of my broadcast booth. While he is definitely cheering for the Tips, he is also wearing a Kelowna Rockets hat. Thanks to all the Tips fans that either e-mailed me personally or commented on this blog site. I appreciate you stopping by in my small space in cyber space for a quick visit.

It's off to Everett I go

I will share some thoughts when I arrive in Everett. Talk to you there.

Foot soldiers play big role in game six win

  • Defenceman Tyson Barrie will get all the headlines following a 5-4 win over the Everett Silvertips, but it was the Kelowna Rockets foot soldiers that were the key in forcing a game seven in their Western Conference playoff series. Barrie was instrumental by scoring twice in the game six win, but it was key goals from rookie Codey Ito in the second period, and captain Lucas Bloodoff in the third, in the one goal win. It was Ito's first career playoff goal and Bloodoff's first of the series. I couldn't have come at a better time. Bloodoff's goal was the game winner.
  • It was great to see Ito's goal with assists to foot soldiers Tyler Matheson and Max Adolph. Sixteen year-old Jessey Astles also needs to be credited for his hard work over the course of the game. Evan Bloodoff was especially solid in the third period thanks to his great speed.
  • Shane McColgan also scored. It was McColgan's first of the playoffs. McColgan also assisted on the game tying goal from Tyson Barrie, despite being hurt in the second period by a hit from Tips forward Clayton Cumiskey.
  • For the sixth straight game the Tips opened the scoring on a soft goal by Scott MacDonald. MacDonald's attempted pass from the end boards hits Mark Guggenberger's leg and goes in just 4:33 into the game.
  • The Rockets are nursing a 3-2 lead when referee's Derek Zalaski and Devin Klein get busy by missing several infractions before whistling Rockets forward Spencer Main into the box for tripping. The Tips then score a disputed goal when Guggenberger makes a right pad save off of Tips forward Byron Froese, who appears to push Guggenberger's pad across the goal line. After video review, the goal stands. Then to make matters worse, Brandon McMillan is given a roughing minor which the Tips score on to make it 4-3 for the visitors before periods end.
  • It marked the second time in this series that the Rockets came back to win after trailing after 40 minutes.
  • For the first time all season long, a non sellout crowd watched the Rockets force a game seven. Just 5 thousand and 38 fans took in the game. It's the smallest crowd of the season. Who would think that it would take a playoff game not to sell out?.

AM 1150 audio from game six.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

We are going to game 7

Rockets 5 Tips 4
series tied 3-3

Minor blunder

Ok, I am sleep deprived. I called Shane Harper the Tips captain in the below posting. I have since made the correction. I need a nap.

Was Tips overager Shane Harper imitating Lance Bouma?

  • A clear indication of who wanted it more in game five came from Tips forward Shane Harper. What is Harper doing running around the Rockets zone like he's Lance Bouma? Isn't Harper a 42 goal scorer, not a hitter? Harper was going to do whatever it took to send the series back to Kelowna with his team up 3 games to two. Frankly, Harper's physical effort last night impressed me more than had he scored two goals.
  • The Tips blank the Rockets by dressing just five defenceman. That should give you a good indication of what the visitors brought to the table last night. While the Tips deserve credit for sucking it up despite a battered and bruised back end, the Rockets just couldn't take advantage of the Tips misfortune.
  • The last time the Rockets opened the scoring was the second last game of the regular season. Shane McColgan scored his 25th goal of the season in a 4-3 win in Vancouver. McColgan's goal came 3:15 into period one.
  • Tyler Maxwell arose from the dead in game five. A 33 goal man during the regular season, Maxwell scored his first two goals of the series. Now it's Brandon McMillan and Shane McColgan's turn to produce on the scoreboard. Those two 25 goal scorers have yet to fire a puck past a Tips goalie in five games.
  • Argue with me if you want, but my belief is that the Rockets expected this to be a seven game series. I anticipate them playing their hearts out tonight and forcing a game seven back in Everett Monday where all the chips are on the table. The Rockets have been this way all season. The light switch goes on and off. When they want to play hard, they look like world beaters yet when they are off, they are really off.
  • As one of the ushers at Comcast Arena told me, "make sure to win game six so we can see you here Monday night". I asked him why he would say that? He said, "Because us ushers get paid on a per game basis, and we need the money".

Lousy starts for one team, terrific starts for the other

Game #1
Tips score 16:54 into first period

Game #2
Tips score 14:20 into first period

Game #3
Tips score :42 seconds into first period

Game #4
Tips score 1:58 into first period

Game #5
Tips score 1:00 into first period

* In the last three games combined the Tips have taken just 3 minutes and 40 seconds to open up the scoring.

Friday, March 26, 2010


The Everett Silvertips were prime for the pick'n Friday night, but it was the Tips that picked their spots in a 4-0 victory.
Kent Simpson celebrated his 18th birthday, making 21 saves, helping the Tips to the win.
Everett now has a three games to two lead in the series heading into game six Saturday in Kelowna.
The shutout loss was the Rockets first in the playoffs since 2006, when Leland Irving made 41 saves in a 2-0 win at the Comcast Arena on April 11/2006.

Here is the audio of the back breaker in game five. It's a short handed goal from Tyler Maxwell with 11 minutes gone in the second period. A Rockets power play goal would have made it a one goal game. Maxwell scores to make it a 3-0 lead for the Tips.

A visiting team has to win some time

  • Why not tonight? The home team has won every game in this series with the Rockets being forced to win on the road to advance to the next round. While this series is tied at two wins apiece, the Tips are still driving the bus. They don't need to win on the road as long as they run the table at home. The Rockets - as the lesser seed - don't have that luxury.
  • A light skate this morning for both teams prior to game five. The Rockets had a small group on the ice this morning at Comcast Arena. You don't see players like Tyson Barrie on the ice considering he logs enough ice time for two players.
  • The Tips had a full compliment of players on the ice this morning, including injured defenceman Radko Gudas. Gudas was skating, but it appeared he wasn't going full out when shooting the puck. Gudas is out with a shoulder injury...I mean upper body injury.
  • I spoke to Clayton Cumiskey this morning. The Everett Silvertips forward is the younger brother of former Kelowna Rockets defenceman Kyle Cumiskey. The interview will air tonight on AM 1150, but I will post it here for Tips fans that may be interested. (You can listen to it below).
  • Cumiskey told me he played minor hockey with Rockets forward Geordie Wudrick. The two played hockey together in Abbotsford.
  • I received a call this morning from Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play man Bob Ridley. Ridley is hanging out in Cranbrook as the Ice and Tigers prepare for game five of their series tonight. That series is also tied at two wins apiece. Ridley, the elder statesman of the WHL broadcaster group, does not shy away from technology. He may be in Cranbrook, but he has the equipment that enables him to conduct a phone interview with me from his hotel room. 'Old school' he is not.
  • I conducted an interview with Rockets defenceman Tyson Barrie this morning. That interview should be available on Jon Keen's WHL This Week, which can be accessed on the WHL website later today.
  • I understand about two thousand tickets are still available for tomorrow night's game in Kelowna. You want to see some terrific hockey? Pick up a pair of tickets. Game time tomorrow is 7 o'clock.

Rockets game notes vs. Tips

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Tips are meeting in game five of a best of seven Western Conference quarter final series. In game one, the Tips were a 5-4 winner in overtime. In game two the Tips won 5-2. In game three the Rockets were a 5-3 victor and then in game four the Rockets used overtime in a 5-4 win. Game six in the series is tomorrow night in Kelowna with a possible game seven Monday night back in Everett. The Rockets are making their 18th appearance in the WHL playoffs in 19 seasons as an organization. The only playoff miss was back in 2006-2007. These two teams are meeting for the third time in the playoffs, with the Tips winning in seven games in 2004 and in six games in 2006. In both series, the Tips did not have home ice advantage, something they have the luxury of this time around. Overall the Tips have outscored the Rockets 17-16 in the first four games.

Scoring by period:
Period: 1 2 3 OT Totals
Rockets: 4 5 6 1 16
Tips: 7 5 4 1 17

Game four recap: Geordie Wudrick scored 46 seconds into double overtime leading the Rockets to a 5-4 win. Wudrick’s goal came on the power play. Wudrick also scored in the opening period as the Rockets erased a two goal deficit. Brett Bulmer, Antoine Corbin and Spencer Main also scored in the victory. Mark Guggenberger made 39 saves in the win. The Rockets were 2 for 3 on the power play while the Tips were 1 for 3.

Game three recap: Geordie Wudrick and Mitchell Callahan each scored twice leading the Rockets to a 5-3 win over the Tips. Brett Bulmer scored the game winner with exactly four minutes left in the third period. Tyson Barrie chipped in with three assists. Mark Guggenberger made 22 of 23 saves in a relief appearance. The Rockets were 2 for 2 on the power play.

Game two recap: Ryan Murray, Shane Harper and Chris Langkow each scored once and added two assists leading the Tips to a 5-2 win Saturday night. Geordie Wudrick scored both goals for the Rockets in the loss. Adam Brown made 26 saves in the setback. The Rockets were 0 for 2 on the power play while the Tips were 2 for 6 with the extra man. Overall the Tips out-shot the Rockets 31-26.

Game one recap: Daniel Iwanski scored the game winner at the 5:18 mark of overtime lifting the Everett Silvertips to a 5-4 win over the Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets erased a two goal deficit and actually had a 4-3 lead late in the game before the Tips tied it. Brett Bulmer, Geordie Wudrick, Collin Bowman and Antoine Corbin scored for the Rockets, while Adam Brown made 46 saves. The Rockets were 1 for 5 on the power play while the Tips were 2 for 3.

Game five success: The Rockets were 2 and 1 in game five situations in last year’s playoffs. The only loss was in game five of the WHL final against Calgary. The Rockets suffered a 6-1 loss.

Game Day Tidbits: The Rockets won four overtime games in last years playoffs…Tyson Barrie (WHL final), Mikael Backlund (Western Conference final), Jamie Benn (Western Conference semi final) and Cody Almond (Western Conference quarter final) scored…Geordie Wudrick has seven playoff goals. That leads the WHL in goals scored in this years playoffs….Brandon McMillan has four assists in this series. McMillan has a point in all four playoff games. If you add his point totals from the regular season, McMillan is riding a 14 game point streak…. Adam Brown has started three of the first four games of the series…Wednesday’s start by Guggenberger was his first WHL playoff start since game six of last years league final….The Tips have opened the scoring in all four games in the series….The home team has won every game in this series…The winning team in all four games has scored five goals….Six players on the Rockets roster have 33 games of WHL playoff experience. Lucas Bloodoff (7+7=14), Brandon McMillan (0+9=9), Tyson Barrie (5+23=28 points), Collin Bowman (1+6=7) and Geordie Wudrick (13+5=18) lead the way…The Rockets are 5 for 12 on the power play in the series 41.7%...Wudrick’s seven goals in a playoff series is a franchise record. Jesse Schultz had five goals in a playoff series against Red Deer in the 2003 WHL final.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tips GM Doug Soetaert on defenceman Ryan Murray

Quick thoughts from the road

  • Scoring a power play goal in overtime isn't as rare as you may think. The Rockets scored two power play goals in overtime in last years playoffs. Jamie Benn scored in OT, on the power play, against Tri City in round two and Tyson Barrie scored in OT, on the pp, in game six against Calgary in the WHL final.
  • Is sixteen year-old rookie defenceman Ryan Murray a possible Tip captain down the road? I asked that question to GM Doug Soetaert. Soetaert was non committal. "We will just take it day-to-day".
  • Soetaert agreed that Murray is a special player. "I have never seen a sixteen year-old come into this league, I might be wrong, but has played in your top pairing as a 16 year-old, runs a power play, kills penalties and plays five on five. If he didn't have a late birthday it's been suggested he could be a top ten pick in this summers NHL draft."
  • Did you see the Sutter sighting last night? The Director of Player Personnel for the Calgary Flames took in Wednesday's game. Duane Sutter was riding side saddle with brother Gary, who makes Kelowna his year round home.
  • Tips forward Shane Harper must know how to prepare for games. Why? Harper has scored the opening goal in two of the four games in this series, and has scored three of his four goals in the series in the opening period. Harper led the WHL in scoring the first goal of the game, by opening the scoring 15 times during the regular season.
  • Because of a quick turnaround between games five and six, I won't be posting a recap following Friday's game in Everett. Game six is just 24 hours later in Kelowna. I am not traveling with the team in the playoffs, so driving late at night and an early morning return to Kelowna doesn't make it possible.
  • The 'Habscheid Hex' has reached 11 seasons. Since the dismisal of head coach Marc Habscheid, the Kamloops Blazers have not advanced past the first round since 1999, the year Habscheid led the team to the WHL final.

First to five wins

  • While his former team was being eliminated from the WHL playoffs in overtime Wednesday night, Geordie Wudrick was doing his best in the extra session to help his new team get back in a playoff series. Wudrick scored 46 seconds into double overtime in a 5-4 win over the Everett Silvertips, tying this best of seven series at two wins apiece. Wudrick’s old team, the Swift Current Broncos, were eliminated from the 2010 playoffs with a 3-2 overtime loss to Brandon.
  • Wudrick’s overtime winner was his 7th goal in this years playoffs. It came after Tips overage forward Chris Langkow was assessed a slashing penalty after hauling down Rockets defenceman Dallas Jackson. Was it a penalty? It would be called in regulation time, so should it be any different in overtime?
  • How impressive are Wudrick's 7 goals in this series? Jamie Benn had four goals in a second round playoff series against Tri City and netted four goals against Vancouver in last years Western Conference final. Has a Rockets player, outside of Wudrick, scored seven goals in one playoff series? Not to my knowledge. Wudrick is the first!
  • Jesse Schultz had five goals in a series against Red Deer in the WHL finals in 2003.
  • The winning goal involved goaltender Mark Guggenberger. Guggenberger fires the puck to centre ice to a waiting Tyson Barrie. Barrie skates on right wing inside the Tips zone, finds Wudrick, who fires a hard wrist shot over the glove hand side of Thomas Heemskerk.
  • Overtime was a sluggish affair, with the two teams playing their fourth game in six nights. The best scoring chance came when Rockets forward Mitchell Callahan fired a low shot that Heemskerk found with his right pad, to keep the game even at 4-4.
  • It was another rough start for the Rockets, who were down 2-0 less than six minutes into the game. But the key goal for the home team came when Spencer Main made a Jamie Benn like move, by stuffing the puck short side on Heemskerk just 34 seconds after Markus McCrea made it 2-0 for the visitors.
  • Main’s goal was the start of three unanswered goals for the Rockets in the first period, who also received a solid effort from rookie Brett Bulmer. Bulmer scored with 55 seconds left in the opening period to give the Rockets their first lead of the series – 3-2 – when entering the first intermission.
  • The second period will go down as the best period of hockey for the Tips in this series and a forgettable one for the Rockets. I would guess 85% of the play was inside the Rockets zone. The Tips came in waves, getting goals from hard working Clayton Cumiskey and a laser beam wrist shot from defenceman Ryan Murray on the power play. The only good news for the Rockets at periods end was the fact that they trailed by just a single goal.
  • If you are wondering, the Rockets won just one game during the regular season when trailing after two periods. The comeback in game four after trailing 4-3 heading into the final frame was impressive.
  • The Rockets received the tying goal from rookie Antoine Corbin. It was Corbin’s second goal of the series. Who would have thought that Corbin would have more goals in this series than 25 goal man Shane McColgan? McColgan, not for a lack of trying, has failed to score in the first four games.
  • In a conversation with Doug Soetaert before the game, the personable GM of the Everett Silvertips revealed that Western Conference second team all-star defenceman Radko Gudas in fact did not make the trip to Kelowna for games three and four.
  • Do I dare go out on a limb again and predict who we will see in goal for the Tips in game five? Look for Kent Simpson to get the start. Why? Its his 18th birthday of course!
  • Sorry for the late post. Internet problems courtesy of Telus are to blame.

AM 1150 audio from game four!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wudrick's shot wins it

Geordie Wudrick scores in the second overtime period leading the Kelowna Rockets to a 5-4 win over the Everett Silvertips. More later.

Tips GM tells me Gudas didn't even make road trip

Tips GM joins us in the first intermission.

Quick thoughts before game four

  • Tips captain Zack Dailey hit the nail on the head when he spoke to reporters after last nights game. The 20 year-old said his team was too cute with the puck and were outworked by the Rockets. I am paraphrasing here, but you get the message. The Tips turned over the puck numerous times in game three, something that was essentially invisible in the first two games down in Everett. I expect a charged up Tips team tonight. They would like nothing more than to send this series back to Comcast Arena with a chance to wrap up the series on home ice.
  • This will be the best game of the series. The Rockets have momentum and want to tie this series at two. A win tonight means we are playing hockey at Prospera Place on Saturday. A Rockets victory turns this into a best of three series.
  • What I liked most about the Rockets efforts last night was their ability to deflect or re-direct pucks towards the Tips net. Kent Simpson and Thomas Heemskerk are just too good to beat them on clean shots. Sure, it happens, but the Rockets were able to get sticks down and deflect pucks from point shots. Even when Simpson made the save on a deflection, he was off balance and was unable to recover for the rebound.
  • It wouldn't surprise me if Thomas Heemskerk was back in goal for the Tips tonight. I though the 19 year-old wasn't at the top of his game in the opener, so the change in goal for game two seemed possible. I just thought last night, Kent Simpson didn't play to his strengths. He's wasn't awful, don't get me wrong, but something wasn't right there. Heemskerk has the distinction of winning both games in Kelowna during the regular season. Does than matter at this time of the year?
  • Let me say one thing about Mark Guggenberger. He is a lot more mentally tough than many people had thought. It was likely a tough pill to swallow for him to see limited playing time down the stretch and then ride the pine in the first three games of this playoff series. The veteran goaltender could have gone into a sulk and played the 'woe-as-me' card. If he did, he kept it to himself, as not be a distraction to the team. When he got his chance to play, in a relief appearance for Adam Brown last night, he sparkled.
  • One more thing about Guggenberger. When he's on, he's on. Gugg's can be an elite goaltender when he challenges shooters, is confident, and spreads out to make his body look like a house. When Guggenberger plays big, opposing shooters often times try to fire it through the small holes he creates. That's my explanation as to why so many posts are hit when he is in goal. He covers so much of the net that pin point accuracy is needed to get one by him. The only goal he gave up was a 5 on 3 power play goal in the first period that he had no chance on.
  • How much is Radko Gudas missed on the Tips defensive core? I thought we saw that in the third period where that extra physical dimension and puck moving d-man was missed. For the first time in this series Ryan Murray was playing more minutes in his own end of the ice, which made him less effective in the offensive zone.
  • The Rockets have been out-scored 5-1 in the first period in this series. I would like to see the home team have the lead after 20 minutes and see how the Tips react. Battling back after trailing in the first period isn't easy, and the Rockets have had to do it three times.
  • Brett Bulmer. Should we be surprised he has two goals in this series? The 17 year-old rookie forward is going to be a stud. His goal scoring in the playoffs is only helping his cause in this summers NHL draft. Scouts are indeed noticing.

AM 1150 audio from game #3

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Soft hands provide satisfying result

  • If Geordie Wudrick and Brett Bulmer's hockey career's don't work out, they should look for employment with Palmolive. If the old commercial is any indication, it takes soft hands to work for that company. The two, who have arguably the softest hands on the team, used them Tuesday night in a game three playoff victory. Wudrick's power play goal in the second period followed by Bulmer's third period goal, which stood up as the game winner, led the Rockets to a 5-3 win over the Everett Silvertips. The win cuts the Tips series lead to 2 games to 1 heading into game four tonight.
  • Wudrick's second period power play goal on a deflection from the slot was part of four straight goals after the Tips built up a 3-1 lead after one period. Bulmer's third period goal came with exactly four minutes left in regulation time on a quick shot that appeared to beat Tips goaltender Kent Simpson to the glove hand side. It was Bulmer's second goal of the series and Wudrick's 5th. I say fifth, even though Wudrick still has yet to be credited for scoring twice in a game two loss. Of the 11 goals scored by the Rockets in this series, Wudrick has five of them.
  • Rockets coach Ryan Huska elected to pull starting goaltender Adam Brown after giving up a wrap around goal by Tips leading scorer Shane Harper 11 minutes into the game. Harper's goal makes it 2-1. The goal appears to beat Brown between the legs and comes after the Tips open the scoring on what appears to be a soft goal from Scott McDonald just 42 seconds into the contest. Guggenberger, making his first appearance in this years playoffs, makes 22 of 23 saves in a relief appearance.
  • Guggenberger is expected to get the start in game four. It will mark the first time Guggenberger has started a game since March 9th, in a 5-2 loss in Spokane.
  • The Rockets power play went two for two as the Tips again did a terrific job of staying out of the penalty box. While the Rockets power play capitalized on the few chances they were given, it also gave up just one goal on four Tip man advantages.
  • Tyler Matheson had a strong game for the Rockets. Yes he did. The big man had a tremendous shift in the second period that appeared to give the home team the momentum. Matheson's line created a good scoring chance before Mitchell Callahan would eventually score to tie the game at three. It marked the second time in this series the Rockets battled back from a two goal deficit. In game one the Rockets battled back after trailing 3-1. The Rockets would eventually lose that game 5-4 in overtime.
  • Tyson Barrie, who had just one point in the first two games of the series, had three assists in the game three victory. Barrie was hit hard in the second period by a clean check from Tips captain Zack Dailey. The hit appeared to catch Barrie in the hip/thigh. Barrie went down, was slow to get up, but stayed in the play and eventually received a penalty for cross checking, as he attempted to get his frustration out on someone wearing a Tips jersey.
  • The home team has won all three games in this series.
  • In all three games the Tips have opened the scoring.
  • In all three games the winning team has scored five goals.
  • Overall the Tips have out-scored the Rockets 13-11.
  • The win means a game five is necessary in this series, which will be played Friday night in Everett.

Rockets 5 Tips 3 (Tips lead 2 games to one)

Four unanswered goals helps Rockets get back in the series with a 5-3 victory.
More later.

Tips update

Simpson in goal for Tips. Gudas won't play. Confirmed on scoresheet. No changes for Rockets.

Quick thoughts before game 3

  • I anticipate seventeen year old Kent Simpson starting in goal tonight for the Tips. He looked sharp in game two in a 5-2 victory. I thought his performance was better than Thomas Heemskerk, who I thought didn't look sharp in a game one 5-4 overtime victory.
  • It was suggested on this blog that the Rockets should start Mark Guggenberger in game three. Let me say that goaltending has been the least of the teams concerns in the first two games. You don't yank Brown...not now. Do you roll the dice if you go down 3 games to none and throw Guggenberger in to shake it up? I would be willing to accept that.
  • I don't anticipate Radko Gudas playing tonight for the Tips. The physical d-man didn't practice yesterday which tells me he's tender. Why would you play him when you are up 2-0 in a series? If the series is 2-2, Gudas is in. Why rush an injury when their is no need too.
  • I still haven't see the Rockets 'A' game in this series. Give me an effort like we saw in games against Vancouver and Calgary and I will accept the results. Far too many errors, bad penalties and the desire to win battles that are necessary at this time of the year are missing from this team heading into game three.
  • Who plays with more desperation tonight? If the Rockets don't, I will be disappointed. This is the Rockets game seven in my opinion. To win four straight against the Tips is just too much to ask. Sure it can be done, but their is no question games one, three, five and seven are always the most critical.

Game notes vs. Tips

Tonight’s Preview The Rockets and Tips are meeting in game three of a best of seven Western Conference Quarter final series. In game one, the Tips were a 5-4 winner in overtime. In game two the Tips were a 5-2 winner. Game three is tonight with game four set for tomorrow. If game five is necessary it will be played Friday in Everett. The Rockets are making their 18th appearance in the WHL playoffs in 19 seasons as an organization. The only playoff miss was back in 2006-2007. These two teams are meeting for the third time in the playoffs, with the Tips winning in seven games in 2004 and in six games in 2006. In both series, the Tips did not have home ice advantage, something they have the luxury of this time around. In case you are wondering, the Rockets were 9 and 2 in eleven home playoff games last season. The only losses at Prospera Place were 3-2 to Vancouver in the Western Conference final series and in game four of the WHL final against Calgary.

Scoring by period:
Period: 1 2 3 OT Totals
Rockets: 0 3 3 0 6
Tips: 2 3 4 1 10

Penalties by period:
Period: 1 2 3 OT Totals
Rockets: 7 5 3 0 15
Tips: 4 5 4 0 13

Shots on goal by period:
Period: 1 2 3 OT Total
Rockets: 14 22 22 2 60
Tips: 26 26 27 3 82

Game two recap: Ryan Murray, Shane Harper and Chris Langkow each scored once and added two assists leading the Tips to a 5-2 win Saturday night. Geordie Wudrick scored both goals for the Rockets in the loss. Adam Brown made 26 saves in the setback. The Rockets were 0 for 2 on the power play while the Tips were 2 for 6 with the extra man. Overall the Tips out-shot the Rockets 31-26.

Game one recap: Daniel Iwanski scored the game winner at the 5:18 mark of overtime lifting the Everett Silvertips to a 5-4 win over the Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets erased a two goal deficit and actually had a 4-3 lead late in the game before the Tips tied it. Brett Bulmer, Geordie Wudrick, Collin Bowman and Antoine Corbin scored for the Rockets, while Adam Brown made 46 saves. The Rockets were 1 for 5 on the power play while the Tips were 2 for 3.

On this date: The Rockets are 3 and 0 in playoff games played on March 23rd since the start of the 2000 playoffs. Back in 2002, the Rockets shutout Kamloops 3-0. In 2003 the Rockets were a 4-3 overtime winner against Vancouver. On March 23, 2004 the Rockets beat Kootenay 4-0.

Third game success: The Rockets were 3 and 1 in game three situations in last year’s playoffs. The only loss was in game three of a third round series against the Vancouver Giants. The Rockets suffered a 3-2 loss.

Game Day Tidbits: The top four leading point getters during the regular season for the Everett Silvertips have out-scored the top four point getters for the Rockets 11-6 in this series…Adam Brown has started the first two games in goal for the Rockets…Shane McColgan, who scored 25 goals this season, has been held off the score sheet in the first two games….This series has featured two fighting majors. Tyler Matheson and Spencer Main have both been tagged with 5 minute fighting majors….Six players on the Rockets roster have 31 games of WHL playoff experience. Lucas Bloodoff (7+7=14), Brandon McMillan (0+7=7), Tyson Barrie (5+18=23 points), Collin Bowman (1+4=5) and Geordie Wudrick (9+5=14) lead the way…Since 2000, the Rockets have been involved in five overtime playoff games that have been decided in the second overtime. The two longest games were in 2003 when goals were scored at the 18:25 mark of the second OT.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Images from Everett

These are a few signs at Comcast Arena during game two. The Tips hold a sign contest between the first and second intermission.
This was the winning sign of the night.
Goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh watches Mark Guggenberger closely during a workout in Everett.
Injured forward Cody Chikie is put through the paces. Chikie has been out a month with a broken collarbone.
The Rockets bus enjoying some Everett sunshine while waiting for the team at Comcast Arena.

Things that make me go hmm....

  • By the time this playoff series is over, no less than five players will have celebrated a birthday. Clayton Cumiskey celebrated his big day on Saturday night while Rockets forward Brandon McMillan turned 20 today. Tips forward Dan Iwanski blows out the candles tomorrow (Tuesday) while teammate Curtis Kulchar turns 20 on Wednesday. If the series goes beyond four games, Tips goaltender Kent Simpson will turn 18 on Friday when the two teams clash in game five.

Here are the dates:

Cumiskey - Mar 20 (20 years)

McMillan - Mar 22 (20 years)

Iwanski - Mar 23 (20 years)

Kulchar - Mar 24 (20 years)

Simpson - Mar 26 (18 years)

*Rockets d-man Dallas Jackson turns 21 years-old on March 31st.

  • You have to hand it to the Tips for making the most of their first round picks in the WHL bantam draft. Since the franchise was born in 2003, the scouting staff have hit a home run. Zach Hamill, Eric Doyle, Kyle Beach, Kellan Tochkin, Kent Simpson and Ryan Murray are all first round selections that have worn a Tips jersey. All six are quality players. The best pick may have been Simpson, considering the Tips picked him 22nd overall in 2007.
  • Portland Winterhawks broadcaster Andy Kemper pointed out on his blog last week that he was surprised that Hawks bench boss Mike Johnston was not chosen as the Western Conference coach of the year. Instead Tips coach Craig Hartsburg picked up the honour. Statistically Johnston's numbers were better (season to season improvement) than Hartsburg's, but I wonder why Johnston, who is also the Hawks GM, didn't get the vote for Western Conference executive of the year? Nothing against my friend Bob Tory in Tri City, who has done a terrific job by the way, but Johnston did remarkable work in drafting talent (Niederreiter) and persuading players (Johansen) to join them this season.
  • Kelowna Rockets fans won't know this. Tips head coach Craig Hartsburg is a former teammate of Wayne Gretzky's. The two played junior hockey together in Sault Ste. Marie in 1977.
  • In case you are wondering, nine American born players are participating in this playoff series. The Rockets have 5 while the Tips have four with birth certificates that say U-S-A. The state of California is represented by five players.
  • When the American national anthem is sung at Tips games, when the words "Who's bright stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight" are sung, the fans in unison yell out "fight". So far, Tips fans have been rewarded with two fights in this series with Main-McCrea dancing in game one and Matheson-Elynuik exchanging blows in game two.
  • Should the Moose Jaw Warriors be thanking the Kelowna Rockets for a 2-0 lead in their best of seven series with the Calgary Hitmen? Did the Rockets put a sense of playoff doubt in the Hitmen's minds after beating them in two of three games in Calgary in last year's WHL final? The same core of players on this years team, which won 52 games, were part of a group that lost to the Rockets in six games in last years league final. Hitmen forward Joel Broda is still shaking his head over Mark Guggenberger's performance one year ago. Now Warriors goaltender Jeff Bosh is stealing the show.
  • I returned home from Everett with just one casualty to my station vehicle, and no, Tips fans are not to blame. A trash bin in the compound at Comcast Arena apparently rolled into the back of my vehicle, breaking the rear signal light. The security at Comcast informed me of the mishap during the second intermission. The parking attendant even went as far to write out an accident report of what happened and who I could contact locally for insurance purposes. This gentleman could have kept his mouth shut and had me notice it once I arrived back in Kelowna with Comcast denying any wrong doing. Instead he took it upon himself to inform me of the unavoidable accident. What does that say about that employee and Comcast Arena? I left impressed.

Better down 2-0 heading home than vice-versa

  • While the Rockets are down 2 games to none in their best of seven series with the Everett Silvertips, it better the Rockets be playing the next two games on home ice than on the road. I wouldn't like the Rockets chances of winning two straight games at Comcast Arena. I believe they can win back-to-back games at Prospera Place though.
  • Whoever wins game three wins the series. How's that for a bold statement. Or is that obvious? If the Rockets win, it isn't!
  • If you compare Everett's top four scorers from the regular season with the Rockets in this series, it may explain why the Tips have a 2-0 lead. Shane Harper, Tyler Maxwell, Kellan Tochkin and Byron Froese are a combined 4+7=11. The Rockets top four point men - Tyson Barrie, Shane McColgan, Brandon McMillan and Geordie Wudrick are 3+3=6. Only Wudrick has a goal (3 of them) in this series. Harper, Tochkin and Froese all have goals in the first two games.
  • A first period goal would go a long way for the Kelowna Rockets in game three. The Rockets have failed to score a goal in the opening 20 minutes, and have trailed 1-0 after the opening period in both games. You don't see much of a difference in the other two periods, where the Tips have out-scored the Rockets 7-6. The Tips have an overtime goal as well.
  • Game three is being played on March 23rd. If past playoff battles on that date give the Rockets a good feeling, so be it. The Rockets are 3 and 0 in playoff games on March 23rd dating back to 2000. The Rockets were a 3-0 winner against Kamloops in 2002, a 4-3 overtime winner against Vancouver in 2003 and a 4-0 winner over Kootenay in 2004.
  • Oh boy! The Tips are 2-0 since 2000 when it comes to playoff games played on March 23rd. The Tips beat Spokane 5-4 in overtime in 2004 and earned a 4-2 win over the Chiefs in 2007.
  • I had a chance to take a look at the video evidence, and indeed Geordie Wudrick did score the Rockets second goal of the game Saturday night. Wudrick now has three goals in two games. The goal was credited to linemate Lucas Bloodoff.
  • The biggest surprise for me in this series is the play of Tips forward Clayton Cumiskey. I'll be honest with you, I didn't think much of him when he was a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings. I sure like him now. Cumiskey, who just turned 20 a few days ago, is good at the face-off circle and has been playing to his strengths, which is providing a forecheck and playing physical.
  • The Rockets best face-off man in this series may be Spencer Main. I have no data to prove my point, but Main appears to be having the most success at the dot.
  • The last time the Rockets and Tips met in a playoff game at Prospera Place was in 2006. The Rockets won that game 3-2 in overtime. Troy Bodie scored the game winner in the second overtime. In fact the Tips have lost back-to-back playoff games in Kelowna. Brent Howarth scored the game winner on home ice in another 3-2 win, this one in regulation time.
  • I mentioned that the Rockets need to be more disciplined in this series, but the number of penalties taken as compared to the Tips in the first two games is actually quite close. The Rockets have taken 15 penalties while the Tips have 13.
  • It should come as no surprise that the game isn't being called as tighly in the 3rd period as it is in the first. The officials have handed out 11 penalties in the first period compared to just 7 in the third. Not a huge difference, but you get the idea.

McMillan turns 20 today!

Happy 20th birthday to Rockets forward Brandon McMillan.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Murray looks anything but a rookie

  • The Kelowna Rockets may have the best 16 year-old forward in the Western Conference, but it is clearly evident that the Everett Silvertips have the best 16 year-old defenceman. Rookie Ryan Murray scored once and added two assists and was named the games first star, leading the Tips to a 5-2 win over the Rockets Saturday night. The Tips now have a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series with games three and four in Kelowna Tuesday and Wednesday night.
  • What makes Murray so impressive is his inability to feel the pressure when carrying the puck. That can't be taught. Either you have it, or you don't. I haven't seen this young of a defenceman look this good from the U.S Division since Thomas Hickey caught my eye as a 16 year-old with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2005. I think Hickey's a better skater, but the two put up almost identical totals in their 16 year-old season. Hickey had 28 points as a rookie. Murray had 27.
  • This is a tied game for the first 31 minutes before the Tips break it open with four unanswered goals. Unlike game one, the Tips are able to score a couple of beauties on terrific passing plays. Shane Harper's power play goal on a tick-tack-toe passing play was nice, but his game winning goal was equally as impressive. Time and space spells trouble if you allow the Tips top players that luxury. When the Tips display that skill, like they did in game two, they are tough to beat.
  • The Rockets played a much more physical game than what we saw in the opener, but playing on the edge got them into penalty trouble. Allowing the Tips six power play chances is playing with fire. Playing gritty is one thing . Playing with controlled emotion is another.
  • Penalties taken by Collin Bowman (slash), McColgan (interference goalie) and Dallas Jackson (cross checking) have to be avoided in a playoff series. You know the Tips are going to be disciplined, so you have to match their composure. Everett was the 4th least penalized team in the WHL this season and that won't change in the playoffs.
  • Geordie Wudrick should be credited for both Rockets goals. The 19 year-olds late third period goal to make it 5-2 was originally credited to Lucas Bloodoff. That should be changed.
  • The best save of the game came when Tips goaltender Kent Simpson made a right pad save off of Brandon McMillan on a first period breakaway. I can't see why Simpson wouldn't get the start in game three Tuesday night.
  • The Tips are 4 for 9 on the power play in the series (44%) while the Rockets are 1 for 7 (14%).
  • When was the last time the Rockets lost the first two games on the road before battling back to win a series? In the second round of last years playoffs against Tri City, the Rockets would lose games one and two in Kennewick before winning game three (7-2) and game four (4-3 in overtime).
  • The Rockets look at getting back in the series with two games on home ice. The Rockets won 9 of their last 11 home games during the regular season by beating teams like Vancouver, Spokane and Medicine Hat.

Tips make goaltending change?

Don't be surprised to see Kent Simpson in goal tonight for Everett. I wouldn't be shocked by the move. Rockets starter Adam Brown outplayed Thomas Heemskerk last night in game one, and my feeling is the one goal win was a little too close for comfort for the Tips. The 17 year-old has no playoff experience. The same could be said for Adam Brown, until last night's game one appearance.

Did the Chilliwack Bruins really win and other stuff

  • The overtime playoff game last night marked the fifth time the Rockets and Tips have had to decide a game in the extra session. The Rockets are now 1 and 4 in overtime playoff games against the Tips. Daniel Iwanski (2010), Bryan Nathe (2004), John Dahl (2004) and Jeff Schmidt (2004) have scored overtime goals for Everett. Rockets forward Troy Bodie (2006) has scored the lone playoff overtime goal against the Tips.
  • Since 2000, the Rockets have been involved in five overtime playoff games that have been decided in the second overtime. The two longest games were in 2003 when goals were scored at the 18:25 mark of the second OT. One of those goals was scored by current Rockets assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert, who responded at 18:25 of the second overtime in a win over Vancouver. The Rockets fired 67 shots on goal that night.
  • In that overtime win over Everett in 2006, the Rockets had seven players that would eventually play in the NHL. Kyle Cumiskey, Mike Card, Alex Edler, Luke Schenn, Cody Almond, Troy Bodie, Blake Comeau have all played an NHL game since graduating from the WHL.
  • The Rockets were 2-1-1-0 in game-two’s in last years playoffs. The Rockets were a 5-1 winner against Kamloops in round one, fell 3-2 to Tri City in round two, fell 4-3 in overtime to Vancouver in round three and beat Calgary 5-2 in game two of the WHL final.
  • Was it just me, or was the shot clock counter at the Comcast Arena a little trigger happy last night? It didn't feel like the Rockets gave up that many shots. It didn't feel like a 51 shot game to me.
  • How many faceoff's did the Tips win last night? The statistic must have been staggering.
  • While having a late night snack in downtown Everett last night, a gentleman approached me and said, "Love the blog, but I'm glad we won". I was just flattered that the Tips fan would come by, shake my hand and tell me that he spends a small part of his day reading Regan's Rant.
  • Last night's overtime win received front page coverage in the Everett Herald sports section. I picked up a copy in the early morning hours as it had already hit news stands just 3 hours after game time. Amazing. Because of the length of the game, 2 hours and 50 minutes, sports writers were scrambling to get their article into the paper before deadline. The fact that the game didn't start until 7:35 didn't help the cause.
  • Can I pick a favourite Everett Silvertip? It would have to be Kellan Tochkin. We talked before game one and the kid is extremely personable. On top of that, he's a great interview. Tochkin is relaxed, confident and expands on his answers. He is a top five interview when it comes to players. The Rockets best player interview is defenceman Tyson Barrie.
  • Jim Riley is providing a game story for the Seattle Times, so the series is getting some play in the 'big' newspaper. Mind you, the story is on page 8, but hey, it's in there.
  • Speaking of the Seattle Times, Chilliwack Bruins head coach Marc Habscheid would be pleased for just a moment when he looked at the WHL scores at the back of the sports section. It proclaims the Chilliwack Bruins beat the Tri City Americans 4-2. The score was obviously published in error. Errors, who makes errors? It's the story of my life.
  • Director of Officiating Kevin Muench took in last night's game. Muench told me that the WHL has now paired down to 23 officials from 36 during the regular season. So essentially you are seeing the best of the best in the playoffs. OK, that statement was the setup for some snide comments.
  • I am not sure many Kelowna fans know this, but the public address announcer at Tips games is the son of the late Dave Piland, who died of a brain tumour in 2007. Piland was the public address announcer for the Tips when they broke into the league in 2003. Piland died essentially from the same form of cancer as my mother Lil, who passed away in 2008. Piland's son Greg has taken over the public address announcing duties and does a spot on imitation of his dad's voice. In essence, when Greg announces the goals, his dad comes alive. Pretty cool in my mind. Here is a picture of the late Dave Piland.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Daniel who? Daniel Iwanski plays hero

  • Daniel Iwanski wasn't a house hold name outside of Everett. He is now! Iwanski likely scored the biggest goal of his career leading the Everett Silvertips to a 5-4 overtime win Friday night against the Kelowna Rockets. Iwanski scored just ten goals this season and was used in more of a shutdown role, but not on this night. Linemate Clayton Cumiskey found Iwanski with a nice saucer pass, with the 19 year-old snapping the puck past Rockets goaltender Adam Brown at the 5:18 mark of O.T., giving the Tips a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series. Game two is at the Comcast Arena Saturday night.
  • If the truth be told, Iwanski was a pretty productive player down the stretch for the Tips, collecting three goals and three assists in his final seven regular season games.
  • Iwanski's big goal came just four days shy of his 20th birthday. Iwanski turns the big 2-0 on March 24th.
  • The Rockets had a chance to steal the opening game when they were awarded a power play with Tips defenceman Curtis Kulchar in the box for high sticking. The Rockets failed to score in the final 1:55 of regulation, sending the game into overtime.
  • The Rockets were 1 for 5 on the power play. The lone goal with the extra man came off a Brett Bulmer backhand in the third period. The Tips were 2 for 3.
  • Give the Rockets credit for battling back in this one. The Tips had a 2-0 lead about five minutes into the second period before rookie Antoine Corbin scored his first playoff goal to get the visitors jump started.
  • The Rockets' number one line of Geordie Wudrick, Lucas Bloodoff and Brandon McMillan were a combined +8. McMillan and Bloodoff led the way with +3's.
  • Rockets goaltender Adam Brown was named the games third star with a 46 save performance.
  • I liked Tips forward Zack Dailey. His energy on the forecheck was infectious. I like it when players who work hard are rewarded offensively. Dailey ends the game with a goal, an assist and a second star.
  • It was sporadic, but effective when applied. The Rockets took the body to the Tips and seemed to take over the play. In saying that, the physical element of the game was used sparingly by the Rockets, something that must be prominent in game two if they want success in this building.
  • Colton Jobke, Corbin and Bulmer earned their first WHL playoff points in Friday's loss.
  • The loss in overtime was the Rockets first in the playoffs since a 4-3 setback to the Vancouver Giants in last years Western Conference final. Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored with 35 seconds left in overtime in game two of that best of seven series.
  • Tyson Barrie's Dad Len took in Friday's game.
  • Here is the game winning goal audio:

Tip...I mean top of the morning to ya!

  • Welcome to Everett. A beautiful sunny sky was a great way to start the morning as the Rockets ate breakfast before heading to the rink for a quick pre-game skate. A handful of Rockets skated this morning, including Cody Chikie, who looked like he is ready to return to the lineup shortly. Chikie will sit out tonight's game, but was seen shooting the puck hard and looking as if he hadn't missed a month of action. Chilkie is still recovering from a broken collarbone, but is optimistic he will be in the lineup sooner than many people had expected.
  • A great article in the Everett Herald this morning on this series, and the WHL playoffs. The Herald had a front page article featuring 20 year-old team captain Zack Daley. Two pages later you see a spread looking at all of the playoff series, with sports writer Nick Patterson sticking his neck out there by predicting a winner. Patterson predicts the Tips winning this series, but not without a fight.
  • Some players grow beards, others dye their hair for the playoffs, but the Everett Silvertips have decided to shave their heads. Everyone on the team, including radio broadcaster Jon Rosen, used a razor to shave their head to the bark, or close too. The only Rockets personnel taking on a similar look is head coach Ryan Huska, who sports the clean cut year round.
  • Look for Thomas Heemskerk to get the start in goal for the Tips tonight. Heemskerk played in four of the five games against the Rockets this season.
  • A full complement of Rockets coaches have made the trip, including goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh. 'Dilly' did not travel with the team this season because of commitments with the LA Kings organization, but is here in Everett to help Adam Brown and Mark Guggenberger.

Rockets game notes vs. Tips

Tonight’s Preview The Rockets are making their 18th appearance in the WHL playoffs in 19 seasons as an organization. The only playoff miss was back in 2006-2007. Tonight the Rockets open the 2010 playoffs with a first round series against the Everett Silvertips. These two teams are meeting for the third time in the playoffs, with the Tips winning in seven games in 2004 and in six games in 2006. In both series, the Tips did not have home ice advantage, something they have the luxury of this time around. Game one and two are in Everett tonight and tomorrow before the series shifts to Kelowna for games three and four Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Seasonal Series Synopsis: The Rockets and Tips play in separate divisions, yet the two teams met five times this season. The Rockets met all other U.S based teams only four times. The Rockets were 1-4-0-0, and were out-scored 21-14. The Rockets outshot the Tips 170-151 in the five games and were 7 for 32 on the power play (22%) while the Tips were 7 for 24 (29%) with the man advantage. Adam Brown was in goal for all five games against Everett this season.

Feeling good coming in: The Rockets have won five of their last six games heading into game one of this playoff series. Over that period the Rockets out-scored the opposition 23-15. The Rockets had points in 19 of their final 25 regular season games (17-6-0-2). The Rockets were out-shot just five times in their final 25 regular season games.

Award Winners: Defenceman Tyson Barrie captured four awards at the Rockets year end awards banquet. Barrie was named MVP, top scorer, top defenceman and shared the plus/minus award with teammate Brandon McMillan. McMillan picked up the top defensive forward award while Shane McColgan won the rookie of the year. Spencer Main was the scholastic player of the year while Mitchell Callahan won the unsung hero award. Brett Bulmer was the most improved while Lucas Bloodoff captured the community award.

One step further: Three members of the Rockets are up for league awards. Tyson Barrie will face Calgary’s Michael Stone for the WHL defenceman of the year award. Shane McColgan is the Western Conference nominee for rookie of the year. The Eastern nominee is Red Deer’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Rockets forward Spencer Main is the Western Conference nominee for scholastic player of the year. The East nominee is Swift Current’s Adam Lowry. The award winners will be announced April 28th.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Since returning from the WJHC, Brandon McMillan has 16+21=37 in 34 games…McMillan had 25 goals this season, a career high after scoring 15 times in 2007-2008….The Rockets lost just three times when the 19 year-old scored...McMillan ended the season riding a season high ten game point streak….Adam Brown started twenty of the teams final twenty-five games.…Adam Brown was 13-3-0-4 in his last twenty starts…Shane McColgan had 1+3=4 in his final six games of the regular season…Dallas Jackson had 3+13=16 in 19 games after being acquired at the trade deadline. Geordie Wudrick had 19+15=34 in 38 games with the Rockets after being acquired from Swift Current in November….The Rockets registered points in 20 of 27 games following the trade deadline and went 16-7-0-4 over that period…Jackson has a point in ten of his last thirteen games (1+12=13). Jackson has not scored in ten games …The Rockets had more power play goals (82)as they did last season (80).

Game Day Tidbits: Geordie Wudrick failed to score a power play goal in 7 games in last years first round series loss to Medicine Hat. Wudrick did have five goals in 12 playoff games in 2008…The Rockets were involved in thirty-two (32) one goal games this season. The Rockets were 17-10-2-3 in those thirty-two games…Tyson Barrie led the team with 11 power play goals….Tyson Barrie had a team high 51 assists. Geordie Wudrick scored a team high 27 goals.…Six players on the Rockets roster have 29 games of WHL playoff experience. Lucas Bloodoff (7+5=12), Brandon McMillan (0+5=5), Tyson Barrie (5+17=22 points), Collin Bowman (0=4=4) and Geordie Wudrick (6+5=11) lead the way…Adam Brown has technically no playoff experience other than a relief appearance in the championship game of last years Memorial Cup when he came in for Mark Guggenberger….Guggenberger has 22 games of playoff experience after starting in every game in last year’s playoff run….The Rockets won game one of last years opening round playoff series by a 4-2 score….The Rockets were 3 and 1 in game one’s in last years playoffs. The only game one loss was a 4-3 setback to the Tri City Americans in round two.