- You will have to pardon Kelowna Rockets coach Ryan Cuthbert if he says the Centrium in Red Deer is his favourite WHL arena. Cuthbert has two good reasons for falling in love with the building. Not only did he captain the Rockets to their first league championship here in 2003, he also won his first game as a WHL coach Friday night in the same facility that he hoisted the Ed Chynoweth trophy over his head. The Kelowna Rockets gave a 'Ryan Cuthbert type of effort' in a 5-1 win over the Rebels in the first game of a five game Alberta road trip.
- For the record, Cuthbert becomes the youngest coach in Rockets history to win his first WHL game as a 'head coach'. Cuthbert is just 28.
- Evan Bloodoff led the way with two goals and an assist. Playing on a line with Geordie Wudrick and Max Adolph, the three of them accounted for four of the five goals. Wudrick scored twice while Adolph got into a third period scrap with Rebels forward Josh Cowen.
- Bloodoff's second goal of the game came after teammate Spencer Main was denied on a second period shorthanded chance. Main was stopped by Rebels goaltender Darcy Kuemper on a breakaway before Bloodoff used great outside speed to beat the defenceman before tucking the puck between the legs of the goalie.
- Red Deer broke Adam Brown's shutout bid 20 seconds into the third period to make it a 4-1 score. But on this night, Brown was simply to strong and showed again why he is the hottest goaltender in the WHL. Brown made several big stops before Wudrick scored his second of the game to restore the Rockets four goal lead.
- Rebels goaltender Darcy Kuemper had a rough night. The 20 year-old, who had the best goals against average in the WHL heading into Friday nights game, was pulled after the second period and replaced by backup Dawson Guhle.
- The key for the Rockets in the win was killing off consecutive 5 on 3 chances for the Rebels late in the first period. If the Rebels convert, it's a 2-2 tie. The Rockets were 5 for 5 on the penalty killing unit.
- Outside of one real good scoring chance, Rebels 17 year-old forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wasn't causing the Rockets headaches in the offensive zone. Nugent-Hopkins clanged one off the cross-bar less than 30 seconds into the game, but was a non-factor after that. But can you blame him? His mind was on getting through the game uninjured as he prepares to head to Toronto tomorrow for the start of Team Canada's training camp.
- Rockets d-man Tyson Barrie wasn't his normal self either. He rarely rushed the puck and wasn't that dominating force we have grown to appreciate over the years. That's what makes this win so impressive. The defensive core deserves a lot of credit in the victory.
- MacKenzie Johnston picked a hard way to earn his first penalty minutes of the season. The 17 year-old got into a third period fight with Rebels Adam Kambeitz. It was Johnston's first fighting major of his young junior career.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Cuthbert earns first WHL coaching win!
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