Monday, February 27, 2012

Saying goodbye to February with a setback

You couldn't have asked for a better scenario. Down by a goal with less than four minutes left in the game, Kelowna Rockets leading scorer Shane McColgan found himself on a breakaway while trying to kill a penalty. Unfortunately, McColgan's shot rang off the goal post and ricocheted into the corner as the Rockets fell 2-1 Sunday afternoon to the Calgary Hitmen. Despite a late power play of their own, and with the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker, that glorious chance was as close as the Rockets would come to sending the game into overtime.

Goaltender Jordon Cooke was asked to hold his team in the game early and the 18 year-old did just that. Cooke was solid in the first period when the Hitmen produced the bulk of the quality scoring chances. The Rockets, playing their fourth game in five nights, looked like it, before oddly enough finding their game in the third period. Tied at one goal apiece, the Rockets dictated the play in the early stages of the third, forcing Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson to call a time out. The Rockets out-shot the Hitmen 12-5 in the final frame, but outside of McColgan opportunity, getting inside quality chances were hard to come by.

If fatigue was a factor Sunday, mental fatigue was evident on the Rockets power play. Little if anything was manufactured off of it, including a 5 on 3 for about a minute a forty seconds. The Rockets went 0 for 4 in the game and didn't look as sharp as it had in the past. In the seasonal series against the Hitmen, the power play went 0 for 11.

The loss was the Rockets 29th setback of the season. Last season the Rockets lost 28 times.

The Rockets won four of 13 games against Central Division teams this season. The Hitmen are now 9 and 2 against the BC Division this season.

Brett Bulmer ended the month of February with four solid games. Bulmer scored his team leading 29th goal of the season Sunday. The 19 year-old had 9 goals in the month of February and led the team with 12 points in 13 games.

The game featured three fights with Carter Rigby, Mitchell Chapman and Damon Severson getting into scraps. Chapman was playing in only his second game after missing nine straight with an injury. Severson was involved in only his second scrap of the season after a pushing and shoving match, involving several players, happened at the conclusion of the second period.

The Rockets concluded the Alberta road trip with a 1-2-0-1 record and were out scored 16-13 in the four games. Now the team has three road games left in the regular season with stops in Kamloops, Vancouver and Spokane.

After playing 13 games in 23 days, the Rockets have this week off before meeting Kamloops in a home and home series next weekend. It is hopeful forward Filip Vasko will be back in the line up when the Rockets are in Kamloops Friday or possibly in the line up Saturday when the Blazers make a return visit to Prospera Place.

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