Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gutsy effort, great weekend

  • Opportunity knocked Sunday night and the Kelowna Rockets answered the door. The Rockets, playing their 4th game in five nights, used two goals from Zach Franko in a 4-3 win over the Tri City Americans. One of Franko's two goals came on a rare two-on-none breakaway with line-mate Mitchell Callahan. MacKenzie Johnston, with his first career goal in 89 games, and Jesse Astles also scored, snapping the Americans 13 game home ice winning streak.
  • The Americans are usually opportunistic, but it was the Rockets that did a better job of capitalising on their opponents miscues. As mentioned, to see Franko and Callahan skating up ice on a breakaway with no American defenders in sight doesn't happen often. If you combine that gaffe with an off night from Tri City goaltender Drew Owsley, the Rockets were in a good position to beat the Americans at the Toyota Center for the first time since 2006.
  • Jordon Cooke received the start in goal against the Americans and again proved he is more than a capable backup. Cooke wasn't required to make any highlight reel saves, but the Americans spent a significant amount of time buzzing inside the Rockets zone. Cooke also received some help from a cross bar when the Americans were trying to get back into the game on an extended 5 on 3.
  • That 5 on 3 penalty kill was likely the turning point. The Rockets are leading 3-2 late in the second period before Jesse Astles is called for charging and then moments later Mitchell Chapman receives a high sticking minor. The Rockets kill off the 1:51 two man advantage and go into the second intermission up by a goal.
  • Another sign of a tough night for the Americans was when Adam Hughesman is standing all alone in front of the Rockets net and shoots the puck off the post with Cooke at his mercy. That missed chance came in a one goal game and was just another sign that this wouldn't be the Americans night.
  • I was really impressed by Carter Ashton. The Americans forward scored twice and showed no hesitation in shooting the puck. Rockets d-man Tyson Barrie didn't register a point in last night's win, but his main role was playing against Ashton on the Americans top line.
  • Zach Franko now has an 11 game point streak. Franko has 6 goals in six games and has 7 goals and 8 assists in the month of January.
  • Line mate Brett Bulmer has a seven game point streak. Bulmer has 3+8=11 over that stretch. Bulmer has 12 points in January.
  • The coaching staff elected to put Franko on a line with Mitchell Callahan and Brett Bulmer. Forward Shane McColgan was bumped off that line.
  • The number 13 played a prominent role in last night's game. The Rockets snapped the Americans home ice winning streak at 13 games. The Rockets handed the Americans their 13th loss of the season and the Rockets won for the 13th time on the road this season. I can't take credit for that observation. Americans broadcaster Craig West gets credit for pointing that out.
  • Pat Smith was the lone referee Sunday night and once again he had a solid outing. Smith wasn't a factor in the game and simply let the two teams play. Good communication skills with the players and a non-cocky approach made him look like the veteran official that he is. What I liked most about Smith was his ability to communicate with the player who thought a penalty should be called. Smith has a quick word with him on why a call wasn't made and quickly skates back up the ice.
  • A blue collar crowd attends Americans home games and the atmosphere in the building is second to none. They are a loud bunch and I love how they all stand on their feet in the final minute of the game as their team attempts to score the equalizing goal. Can you imagine if Rockets PA Announcer Bill Barnes yelled out over the sound system, "Get on your feet and help out your team". It wouldn't happen. In Tri City it works and you have to applaud the fans for getting behind their team.


Boondocker said...

Congatulations MacKenzie on your first Whl goal. Who would have thought that the boys would come back with 6 points from down south. Great work!

MG said...

Thats sounds like good call with the line Franko change. Not to cut down McCoglan but maybe Franko, Callahan and Bulmer click ?

What a road trip !! Good job.

jaz301 said...

What a great weekend! 3 games 3 nights 3 wins. By reading the blog it seems like they may not have been the prettiest wins, but a win is a win.

I see Vancouver won all 3 of there games this weekend as well keeping the rockets 1 point behind them. The game on Saturday against the 2 will be a good 1 as they always are.

It seem that once again rockets have another good goalie(Jordon Cooke) I can't remember if we have had a bad goalie.

It appears that Pat Smith makes better calls by himself (as you mentioned before). Though I have noticed even when he has a partner he is not as bad as he used 2 be.

Daryl said...

Hey Regan,
I had an opportunity to go to Spokane to watch the game this weekend and I know you see the boys play away from Prospera all the time but I wanted to say how proud and impressed I was watching our guys in hostile territory... Going down 3-1 early in the second against a team like Spokane I thought it was all but over, but to sit and watch this work-man-like team battle back and score 4 unanswered goals against a team like Spokane in their barn was extremely satisfying. Some teams at this level like to hoot, hollar and scream like girls when they have a game like the Rockets played, but you hear none of that from this group of young pros... They played hard and handled themselves with poise and professionalism which not only made me proud but also made me realize why so many Kelowna Rockets are finding their way to the pro ranks. Even when Astles took on Kramer and did very,very well he gave the thumbs up to Kramer and looked over to the bench and told the boys "okay guys, let's go now!!"
Hat's off to all the coach's and training staff for doing such an admirable job with these teenagers and to the boy's on the bench for making this fan very proud to wear this jersey.

divad said...

kudos to the boys .... It seems march can not come soon enough for play off excitement . Listen to end of games broadcast and was really impressed by the way the team is coming together ...