Monday, October 24, 2011
Long in the tooth is better than being wet behind the ears
Is it any coincidence that 19 year-old forwards played significant factors in wins over the Kelowna Rockets this weekend?
Nineteen year-old Kevin Sundher had two assists in Victoria's 3-2 win Saturday night before 19 year-old Brendan Gallagher led the way with a goal and three assists in the Giants 5-2 win over the Rockets Sunday night at Pacific Coliseum.
Both are great players. Both are difference makers. Both are 19.
In major junior hockey, you win with older players, with 19 and 20 year-old's being the difference between wins and a loss.
In 2008-2009, the Rockets were led by 19 year-old's Jamie Benn and Colin Long. It was those players, in that age bracket, that helped the team win a league title.
If you look at the top ten scoring race in the WHL this season, of the ten players, only one 18 year-old (Ty Rattie) is among the league leaders. Five of the top ten are 19 while four are overage players.
Being long in the tooth is a lot better than being wet behind the ears.
This season, unfortunately, the Kelowna Rockets are void of top end 19 year-old's.
Nothing against Spencer Main or Mitchell Chapman, but those two are considered responsible defensive players, not game breakers. In fact, I would suggest that both have exceeded expectations with their strong player this season. Main has five goals, third best on the team, while Chapman has logged big minutes with the loss of overage Kevin Smith to injury.
That means 18 year-old players like Shane McColgan, Colton Sissons, Myles Bell and Zach Franko have to be the difference makers if the Rockets hope to have success.
You can succeed with younger players leading the charge, but it rarely happens. Look at the 2006-2007 Everett Silvertips, who won 54 games with 17 year-old Zach Hamill leading the team in scoring and Peter Mueller, as an 18 year-old, racking up 78 points.
So, should we be shocked by the Rockets stumbles out of the gate this season?
When you are the youngest team in the WHL, early season struggles are the norm.
Can the Rockets win with this young group?
But what I am suggesting is a top end 19 year-old forward is needed to lead the charge.
That 19 year-old forward, unfortunately, is wearing the colours of the NHL's Minnesota Wild.
One player does not make a team, but a top end talent can make a significant difference to the teams overall success.