Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rockets are on the ropes

  • The Portland Winterhawks are anything but a one trick pony. Oh ya, they can beat you with their high octane offense, but in game four last night at Prospera Place, the Western Conference regular season champions used a smothering defensive game in a 4-2 win over the Kelowna Rockets. The Hawks allowed just 13 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes and now have a 3-1 lead in the best of seven series with game five set for Friday in Portland.
  • For the second straight game the Hawks opened the scoring. On a two-on-one, Ty Rattie's attempted back hand pass hits Rockets goaltender Adam Brown and somehow makes its way over the goal line. It's a soft goal that you just can't give up against a team that can create golden scoring chances on their own. The gift gives the visitors a 1-0 lead before they strike again just 21 seconds later. It looks like a long night as the 47 hundred fans are stunned.
  • You have to give the Rockets credit for battling back though. Shane McColgan, who has clearly been Kelowna's best player, scores a huge power play goal late in the first period and the Rockets trail by just one goal. But again, the elusive goal to tie the game was extremely hard to find as the Hawks seemed to dig in their heels by playing a structured defensive game.
  • The Hawks get into penalty trouble late in the second period but the Rockets power play fails to capitalize. In my opinion that was the turning point in the game. Instead of the Rockets scoring to tie the game, Hawks d-man Joe Morrow scores from a point shot from the blue line just 2 and a half minutes into the final frame and it's a 3-1 game.
  • I am not sure if both teams were tired, but after Morrow scored to make it 3-1, the Rockets had little push back. Finally with four minutes left, Brett Bulmer scored and it looked like we were in for a good finish. But with the Rockets pressing and using defenceman Tyson Barrie as a forward in an attempt to find the equalizing goal, Ryan Johansen was sent in on a clear cut breakaway and beat Brown between the legs for his 7th point of the series.
  • Finally some solid officiating! Referee's Sean Raphael and Trevor Hanson were gold. The Rockets had four power plays while the Hawks had three chances. Both officials used good communication skills and didn't rule with an iron fist.
  • The game featured a third period fight between Rockets forward Mitchell Chapman and Hawks enforcer Taylor Jordan. Jordan came to the aid of a teammate after Chapman initiated a solid hit. Chapman did surprisingly well against a much bigger Jordan. Some may remember Jordan tangling with Ryley Grantham in his rookie season and doing very well.
  • I sure liked the play of Rockets forward Jessey Astles. Astles, Colton Heffley and Mitchell Chapman ate up some huge minutes and made life miserable with their physical play. The physical play all started with two solid hits from 20 year-old d-man Zak Stebner who played his best game of the series.
  • After being somewhat quiet in the first three games, Hawks forward Brendan Leipsic really came to play in game four. The smallish forward created some really good scoring chances with his speed.
  • It was nice to 'break bread' with Hawks radio broadcasters Todd Vrooman and John Kirby after the game. Those two stayed the night in Kelowna while play-by-play man Andy Kemper traveled with the team to Chilliwack where they spent the night in the lower mainland before traveling back to Portland. It is the first time I have spent some quality time with Kirby. You can really tell he has a passion for what he does and is a solid piece of the puzzle on the Hawks broadcast. How odd is it that Kirby has been a part of the Hawks broadcasts in some way for over 30 years, yet I don't officially meet him until this series. What a shame.
  • Congrats to Rockets goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh, who is now the father to a baby girl. Ellie Amelia Dillabaugh, weighing 8 pounds and 4 ounces, was born April 13th at 1:17 am.


MG said...

Holy what about Saskatoon. They give up the farm for the next few years and get swept in the second round. Regan thoughts ?

Can we force this series to go seven games ?

divad said...

Needed a stellar effort from everybody ,,,just did not happen last night,A couple weak goals will do it ...I hope Brown can regroup and win one for the team so we can on more game at home . Good luck .

fan said...

l thought Brown let them down in a couple of games but he wasn't the only one. hey Regan l'd sooner learn when the rockets left town.

Daryl said...

hey regan,
good luck to the guys tonight trying to extend their season... i have faith...
i would like to give my two cents worth on the obvious lack of fans coming out to support the team... its been well documented that the seats are available because companies and businesses that buy seasons tickets as write offs dont buy playoff tickets... this is why all regular season games are sold out. So number one, people expect the place to be sold out so they dont look for tickets and number two...prices. Say you wanted to take your twins,Regan... you would be shelling out a hundred bucks a game if you got them a drink and some popcorn for two and a half hours of entertainment... in these tougher economic times thats just too much... thats the reason there are no kids at the playoff games and there are two thousand seats sitting empty... Return the prices to normal for the playoffs instead of expecting more and they probably sell out... thats my take on it.