Monday, January 2, 2012

Do I dare say it?

Photo by Marissa Baecker
  • We are eight days away from the Western Hockey League trade deadline. After Sunday's 2-0 loss to the Calgary Hitmen, it is hard for me not to suggest that changes in personnel need to be made to this years edition of the Kelowna Rockets. My hope was a smidgen of momentum was gained after a fairly successful Eastern Conference road swing before Christmas, but any positive feelings from those six games appear to be lost. Against the Hitmen Sunday afternoon, the Rockets wilted when the game was still within reach. Despite being down 2-0 with a full 20 minutes to be played, where was the urgency? Where were the top end players when an early third period goal could have turned the tide and gotten the fans back in the game? It wasn't there. The game breaking players are in place, but is the will to succeed? That's the most disappointing aspect of Sunday's effort. If you can't accomplish the small feat of erasing a 2-0 deficit with your top end players, is it better to send out your younger players, who may not have the polish of the older veteran, but are willing to work to the greater good of the team?
  • Sunday's contest was winnable. The Hitmen deserve credit for ramping up their game in the third period, but the Rockets had little push back. The line of Bubnick, Sylvester and Gogolev took over in the third period, spending good portions of the final frame with sustained pressure inside the offensive zone. Why? They simply outworked the Rockets. Is it any coincidence that all three of those players are 20 and 19 respectively? Those older players led the charge and Gogolev, who is also 19, looked like a viking with no fear as he followed the lead of his line mates. It was impressive to watch if you are a Hitmen fan, yet concerning if you are a follower of the home team.
  • Jordon Cooke was a bright spot in the Rockets 19th loss of the season. The 18 year-old goaltender appeared to fight the puck early but was one of the main reasons they were in a position to rally in the third period despite being down 2-0. Cooke could have been given the first star in the building but was edged out by Hitmen goaltender Chris Driedger, who was solid in the shutout victory. Driedger's effort was made easy as the Rockets were neither willing to get traffic in front of him or secondary shots.
  • Tyrell Goulbourne, Mitchell Chapman and Colton Heffley all returned to the lineup. Goulbourne made the biggest noise on his return after getting into a scrap with 20 year-old Collin Bowman. Goulbourne clearly won the fight, despite being three years younger than the veteran d-man. Despite a fired up Goulbourne, the inspired effort had little impact on his teammates, who generated just 12 shots through the final 40 minutes of the game.
  • The 2-0 loss was only the second time this season the Rockets have failed to score a goal on home ice. Back on November 25th the Kootenay Ice earned a 4-0 win at Prospera Place.
  • Only Prince George ( 11) and Everett (12) have lost more times on home ice in the Western Conference than the Rockets (10) this season.
  • This group has just three games before the trade deadline to show that the post Christmas struggles are just another dip on what has been a roller coaster ride this season. Spokane pays a visit Wednesday followed by pivotal back-to-back games against Victoria this Friday and Saturday night. The Rockets lead the Royals by just three points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.


Sports Nut said...

Regan, you are 100% bang on with your assessment regarding the work ethic of the more experienced players on the team this year. Let's see how much some of the players want to remain in a Rocket's uniform over the next week or so.

MG said...

Well lets guess, although Hamilton seems to make moves I wouldn't have guessed right and they are usually are on the mark.

I will say that to me it seems Hamilton does his deadline trades with a "lets get as far into the playoffs as we can" instead of "lets dump guys and build for the future."

I could see Brown going if there is someone out there looking. Bulmer to a contender ? Smith needs to go but I doubt anyone will take him.

Jared Comeau said...

If any of them even want to be here anymore. Ever since Bulmer was sent down, it has appeared to me that he simply resents the fact that he is back in the WHL. Pitty if you ask me, that he will end up as a career AHLer if he keeps this up.