Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rookie is no shrinking violet

  • Rookie forward Tyrell Goulbourne had fond memories of his first game at the Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops back in January. Why? The 16 year-old got into his first WHL fight on January 2nd against Blazers newcomer Chase Souto. But last night at the ISC, Goulbourne had even more reasons to celebrate after scoring his first goal in major junior in the Rockets 6-2 road win. Goulbourne didn't only score. The Edmonton product got into two fights with Blazers forward Ryan Hanes. The solid effort translated into the 5th round bantam pick being named the games third star.
  • Do you send Goulbourne back to Edmonton until his school year is over? In my opinion he has made a strong statement to stay in Kelowna for the remainder of the season. I think Goulbourne is a perfect example though of the benefits of a 16 year old player spending one more season in midget to fine tune his game. He is a far better player than when we saw him in late September. Would he have developed enough by spending this season with the Rockets as a healthy scratch on most nights? I don't think so.
  • As mentioned, Goulbourne is a 5th round bantam pick. The last player to be drafted in the 5th round and make a significant impact with the Rockets was Troy Bodie. That was 11 bantam drafts ago.
  • The opening period between the Rockets and Blazers was a back and forth affair with the home team creating the bulk of the quality scoring chances. But that's where a solid goaltender can step up and allow his team a chance to find its groove. Rockets netminder Adam Brown did just that and was especially good on an opening period Blazers power play. The two teams went into the dressing room tied at zero when Kamloops could have easily had a 2-0 lead.
  • Evan Bloodoff scored twice in the win. Bloodoff now has six-two goal games this season. Bloodoff's 21 goals ties his brother Lucas' career high of 21 set in the 2007-2008 season.
  • What I liked most about the Rockets effort was their ability to score quickly after the Blazers made it a one goal game. After Kamloops scored to make it 2-1, Cody Chikie responded 24 seconds later to restore the Rockets two goal lead. Then when the Blazers scored to make it 3-2, Evan Bloodoff lite the lamp 26 seconds later to make it a two goal cushion again.
  • Defenceman Zak Stebner collected two assists giving him 101 points in his WHL career. Stebner is a +6 in his last three games.
  • The Rockets 19 road wins this season ties the road win total set during the 2008-2009 season. Those 19 wins are the second most of any team in the Western Conference. Only Portland has more road wins with 20.
  • I sure liked the play of Blazers forward Colin Smith. The 17 year-old was arguably the best Blazer while JC Lipon was a close second. Both players didn't give up until the final buzzer sounded. Lipon's night ended a little earlier after getting into a third period scrap with European forward Gal Koren. Koren, with only his second fighting major of his career, did pretty well against a tough 17 year-old in Lipon.
  • It was nice to see Rockets rookie forward Zach Franko drop his gloves and go after Blazers defenceman Tyler Hansen after line-mate Shane McColgan was checked from behind late in the third period. No punches were thrown between the two as the linesman quickly jumped in to break it up, but Franko showed courage to even attempt to engage with the much larger Hansen.
  • Great energy in the building in Kamloops Wednesday night. A crowd of over 55 hundred took in the game and the vibe in the building was the best I've seen in years. I had a chance to check out the crowd in the second intermission and they were into it. The 'dancing for your dinner' was a huge hit.
  • The most important result of the night was the Rockets moving four points up on Vancouver for first place in the BC Division with nine games left in the regular season.

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