Monday, April 18, 2011

Putting a scare into the bear


  • Craig Cunningham finally left Prospera Place after a playoff series with a smile on his face. The Portland Winterhawks forward, who was a part of a Vancouver Giants team that lost a heart breaker in the 2009 Western Conference final against the Rockets, scored the game winning goal last night leading the Hawks to a 4-2 win. The Hawks eliminate the Rockets in six games and advance to the Western Conference final. The Rockets season is now over after 82 games.
  • While the final score read 4-2, this was a one goal game until Hawks defenceman Joe Morrow scored into an empty net with three seconds remaining in regulation time. The Hawks built up a 3-0 lead, yet the Rockets pulled out all the stops with goals from Geordie Wudrick and Brett Bulmer to make the visitors sweat.
  • In the end though, depth and skill prevailed. The Hawks are a good team and are built for a long playoff run. They were suppose to win. For the Rockets, to be essentially within a goal of sending the series to a game seven is pretty incredible.
  • The series loss on home ice is rare. The last time the Rockets season came to an end at Prospera Place was April 27/2004 in a 2-1 overtime setback to Everett. That series went to a game seven.
  • Geordie Wudrick's career came to an end where it started. Wudrick played 400 WHL games, which includes the regular season and the playoffs. The 21 year-old's first ever game was at Prospera Place as a member of the Swift Current Broncos.
  • We also said goodbye to the junior careers of defenceman Zak Stebner and Evan Bloodoff. Stebner played with six teams over his career and you could tell in his voice on our post game show that it was an emotional time for him when the final buzzer sounded. I love that emotion because it really tells the listeners that these players care and wanted to win. Bloodoff admitted after the game that it hadn't sunk in that his time in Kelowna was over. Bloodoff was a five year player with the Rockets and is one of only nine to accomplish that feat.
  • Tyson Barrie and Mitchell Callahan also say goodbye. While both players are 19, they have signed contracts with Colorado and Detroit respectively. More thoughts on those two players in a later post.
  • Two Hawks impressed me in this series, and no, neither are a top end forward. Goaltender Mac Carruth was suppose to be the weak link in this series, yet the Hawks goaltender really came to play. He honestly surprised me at how good he was. Maybe he will get the Kelly Guard treatment because he plays behind such a good team? Guard put up big numbers in 2004 but played in front of a solid defensive core, and outside of Kelowna, may have never received the praise and respect that he deserved. The other Hawk that showed me something was Taylor Jordan. The tallest player on the ice used to be one dimensional. The big man showed in this series that he can take a regular shift and can do some good work on the penalty killing unit. It is always neat to see a player transform and improve his game.
  • The one sour note from last night's game was the ending when Hawks forward Brad Ross used a golfing gesture with his stick towards the Rockets. It may sound comical to some, but I would be embarrassed if a Rockets player did the same. Winning with class and respect for your opponent is what 19 of the 20 players on the Hawks roster did. Too bad Ross can't follow the lead of the Johansen's and Niederreiter's. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he too will learn to be gracious when it is all said and done.Stir the pot during the game but show you are above that when the buzzer sounds.
  • The road team won five of the six games in this series. The Rockets failed to win three games on home ice while the Hawks were victims to two setbacks at the Rose Garden.
  • I want to congratulate the Hawks organization for winning the series. It was a lot of fun. The Hawks players I spoke to in this series were excellent. I have a better appreciation of Johansen, Cunningham and Niederreiter after short interviews. All three are well spoken and are great ambassadors of the team. Coach Mike Johnston and I met up a couple of times for some good conversations. I wish all the best to this skilled team and look forward to the Western Conference final against either Spokane or Tri City.
  • Fifteen year-old Madison Bowey made his playoff debut against the Hawks. The Rockets second round bantam pick saw limited ice time. I will say that this series against the Hawks was a great learning experience for the Rockets younger players.
  • I hope you enjoyed the one hour post game show following the game. Thanks to Gord McGarva, we had interviews with all three 20 year-old's along with comments from Tyson Barrie, Mitchell Callahan and Adam Brown. We even had Hawks play-by-play man Andy Kemper on for a couple of quick minutes after the game concluded. Thanks to all talk radio, we have the freedom to give the Rockets the air time they deserve after a long season.

14 comments:

Ryan said...

Brad Ross is a punk and always will be, especially given the team that drafted him. What a surprise he was not on Team Canada and likely wont be again. He has the "kyle beach" rep and hopefully he too, wont be represneting anyone but TO in the future.

showell said...

Hello from Portland. A lot of Winterhawks fans roll their eyes at Brad Ross too.

Hats off to the Rockets, a class organization and a hard-working team. I saw their overtime win in the Rose Garden--Adam Brown was spectacular and Kelowna dug, dug, dug for the win. I got a chance to listen to some of Regan's post-game show last night, and Ryan Huska said all the positive things you'd want to hear about the Rockets. Class all the way.

The WHL--what a great product! I was able to listen to the last half of Tri-City's very tense 2OT win, the final period and OT in Red Deer's heartbreaking loss to Medicine Hat, see the Winterhawks play an OT game. As Portland play-by-play broadcaster Andy Kemper would say, "Holy cow!"

showell said...

Hello from Portland. A lot of Winterhawks fans roll their eyes at Brad Ross too.

Hats off to the Rockets, a class organization and a hard-working team. I saw their overtime win in the Rose Garden--Adam Brown was spectacular and Kelowna dug, dug, dug for the win. I got a chance to listen to some of Regan's post-game show last night, and Ryan Huska said all the positive things you'd want to hear about the Rockets. Class all the way.

The WHL--what a great product! I was able to listen to the last half of Tri-City's very tense 2OT win, the final period and OT in Red Deer's heartbreaking loss to Medicine Hat, see the Winterhawks play an OT game. As Portland play-by-play broadcaster Andy Kemper would say, "Holy cow!"

Dave said...

Brad Ross is a kid trying to figure out how to "fit in" in a man's world. He's a fiery guy who plays with a lot of emotion and needs to learn restraint. Ross matured quite a bit this year. He will find his way with a little more experience. I've had conversations this year with fans in Seattle, Everett, Chilliwack, Vancouver, TC and Spokane and they all say the same thing as you. "Brad Ross is a punk" etc etc etc. However, when asked if they'd want him to play on their team the answer was damn near universally - YES!
BTW Regan, it was a pleasure meeting you in Portland. Thanks for stopping us to introduce yourself.

steven said...

It was a great series indeed. Loved listening to you on the webcast. As a member of the Hosers i want to again say thanks!

The only part im gonna take issue with is calling out Ross for not "winning with class". Maybe he should have done what several of the Rockets players did to Portland fans after the game 5 win on Hawks ice....pounding on the glass, Flipping the bird and dropping F you bombs to the fans?? If you expect your opponent to win with class, maybe your players should learn it too???

It was a great series to watch. Brown and the rest of the team gave it there all. Looking forward to listening to you call the games in the years to come.

Thanks!
Hoser 16

MG said...

Ok so now that its over Regan what are your thoughts on the Saskatoon series. I heard on TSN that Kooteney sweeping them is the biggest upset in the past decade of WHL playoffs. to give up so much only to be swept in the second round has got to be devistating. Will it affect Schenn's credability as a player ? He certianly didn't show up for the series in my opinion, where as the whole Kooteney team can out to play, especially Cody Eakin who looked like a leader in every game.

I was really impressed with the Kooteney goaltender, he's hot right now.

Regan Bartel said...

First off, let me make it clear I did not call Ross a "punk".
A poster did.
Ross plays with intensity and I applaud him for that. As stated earlier in this blog, I would take him on my team. My advice for him is to mimic Johansen and Nino in how they conduct themselves. They exude pro.
Watch how they carry themselves. Amazing, yet they are the same age as Ross.
Incredible maturity.

As for Schenn. It is really tough for a player to be put under that type of pressure. Schenn was only a part of the Blades, not the reason why the team won or lost. The fact that he knew that if the Blades were ousted from the playoffs that he would be playing pro hockey would have been a mild distraction.

carl said...

regan it was great to meet you in portland even if i already knew where kelowna was keep up the good work and thanks for the kind words about the hawks booster club . I look forward to talking to you next year when the rockets come to Portland

Regan Bartel said...

Carl, that was funny. I thought I had you when I asked if you knew where Kelowna was and you blew it for me!
The fact you knew me by name also caught me red handed.
Enjoy the third round. It was a pleasure meeting you and so many good people in Portland.

fax said...

From a Portland perspective, I really think that the "just concluded" series with the Rockets could really serve them well in the immediate future.

I was very impressed with the Rockets coaching, goaltending, and work ethic. Another reason IMO for the "close" series was the overall playoff experience(s) that most of the Rocket players had "under their belt"

While the top 6 forwards for Portland are skilled, talented, and have immense potential (we would all love to have their future wage earnings), they still are relatively "young and inexperienced". Folks have to remember that the top two forward lines for Portland consist of two 17 year olds, three 18 year olds, and one old man (Cunningham).

As far as the Rockets go, I really think that Astles could be a real "diamond in the rough" - I was very impressed with his series performance.

Regan - great blog ... keep up the good work - see you back in the "Rose City" in seven or eight months!

jaz301 said...

We played a good game last night. Started off pretty good then when Portland got the 2 goals the team did not look good. But we came out flying in the 3rd though. We should of tied it we came close a few times, but it is what it is.

I really liked how all the fans showed support to the team last night. After the empty netter goal everyone got on there feet and starting cheering instead of just walking out.

We had a good run this season. At the begging of the year I did not think we would even make the playoffs, but they turned there game around and look where they finished. Top of the BC division and sent the top team in the West to game 6. Rockets may not have went on to the next round, but I am happy about what the accomplished this season and they should be to(though you always want to win).

Regan Bartel said...

Good point. The crowd was excellent despite the non-sell out.

g.k said...

Congratulations Rockets on a great season, I enjoyed it alot!! Hey Regan with reqards to your comment " despite the non-sellout" I think the organization has to address the playoff structure with respect to ticket sales!! In these tough times its really difficult for people to shell out the kind of money they are charging for tickets to a postseaon game, with the high cost of everything at the concessions as well, families just can't afford to attend the games!!

jaz301 said...

About the crowd if canucks can sellout every game then why can't we? For the price of 1 canucks playoff ticket you can take a family of 4 to a rockets game. Now yes concessions is way over priced, but you don't have to buy anything.

One of the main reason we don't sell out during playoffs is because season ticket holders don't get there tickets(from what I was told). Whether it is because of money or laziness I don't know. Anyway I am looking forward to next season already. "lets go rockets"