Sunday, November 20, 2011

Road Warriors for once

It wasn't the top four point producers on the Kelowna Rockets roster that shone brightly Saturday night in a 4-2 road win in Prince George.
It was a defensive defenceman, a feisty forward, a fresh face and a struggling veteran that led the charge.
Mitchell Chapman, who does his best worth keeping the puck out of his own net, scored the first of four unanswered goals as the Rockets won back-to-back games for the first time in over a month.
Rookie Tyson Baillie, with his first goal in over a month, Tyrell Goulbourne and Zach Franko also scored while rookie Cole Martin chipped in with two assists. The win came on the heels of a 3-2 victory one night earlier to a Cougars team which has now dropped four straight.

Tyson Baillie won't drop his gloves often, nor does he have too, but he found a dance partner (Linden Springer) in the first period. While his first WHL fight won't go down as a tilt of epic proportions, the fact that he was willing to even venture in that direction tells me about the character of this first year player. The hockey god's must have liked what they saw, because in the third period he managed to find the back of the net to make it a 4-2 score.

Defenceman Cole Martin is really growing on me. His compete level is outstanding and I love when he rushes the puck. I wish he would do it more often. No questions he makes mistakes, but he and Mitchell Chapman have made some huge strides over the last couple of weeks.

A shout out to 20 year-old d-man Kevin Smith who had a huge hit on Cougars forward Austin Daae in the second period. We don't see it often and need to see it more, but Smith needs to make an impact in some way every game. Saturday night he did that courtesy of some physical play.

The Rockets penalty killing unit didn't surrender a goal in nine Cougar chances on the weekend. Sure the Cougars power play is the worst in the league, but the unit deserves credit for blocking numerous shots that came off the stick of Cougars defenceman Martin Maracin and Cody Carlson.

Speaking of Maracin, how good was he Saturday night? Unbelievable. At times dominant, the 19 year-old logged a truck load of ice time and created some scary chances when carrying the puck up ice. Saturday night he was probably the best player on the ice for both teams.

The Rockets are now 2-0-1-1 in their last four games and sit four points back of Victoria for third place in the BC Division. A seven game home stand awaits the Rockets as they host the Cougars Wednesday night at Prospera Place.


bigkev said...

regan any truth to Mitch Callahan coming back. hes not play in Grand Rapids anymore.

Regan Bartel said...

Nope. He is still there. Will be here in Kelowna in January during the AHL all-star break.