Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ending it the way they started it

(Team photo by Marrisa Baecker)
  • It only seemed fitting that the Kelowna Rockets ended the regular season the way they started it. In their final game of the regular season Saturday night at Prospera Place, Zach Franko scored the lone goal in the shootout leading the Rockets to a 4-3 win over the visiting Vancouver Giants. On opening night, in Everett, the Rockets opened the 2011-2012 regular season with a 5-4 shootout win over the Tips. The Rockets ended the season involved in a league high 15 shootout games and a league high 36 one goal games.
  • Much like Friday night in Vancouver, this game featured several key players on both sides out with injuries or were granted the night off to rest. Giants sat leading scorer Brendan Gallagher and 20 year-old's Neil Manning and Adam Morrison were given the night off. That allowed 16 year-old Kelowna resident Jordon Whistle to start in goal for the Giants and he didn't disappoint. Whistle was sharp in a 44 save performance.
  • Adam Brown, playing in his 200th career game, made the biggest save when he robbed Giants forward Dalton Sward of a sure goal late in the third period. Tied at three, Giants defenceman Tyler Vanscourt kept the puck in at the blue line and sent a pass to Sward at the side of the net. Brown slid across to make a game saving save. Brown ended his regular season WHL career with a franchise record 107 career wins, 200 games played and 11369 minutes played. The 20 year-old has MVP written all over him.
  • This game meant little to both teams in the standings, but in saying that, they did put on a pretty good show. The key coming into the game was ending it injury free. Defenceman Myles Bell took the pre-game skate but elected to sit the game out. The most impressive Giants forward was Marek Trvdon. The 18 year-old's breakaway shorthanded goal in the third period to tie the game at three was a beauty. Rockets forward Brett Bulmer could have mailed it in but he showed some jump and emotion in essentially a meaningless affair.
  • Bulmer ended up being held off the score-sheet along with teammate Shane McColgan. So, McColgan earned the team scoring title for a second consecutive season with 64 points, two better than Bulmer. McColgan now joins Colin Long as American born players that have led the team in scoring in back-to-back seasons.
  • Zach Franko played in all 72 regular season games this season, the only Rockets player to accomplish the feat. The 19 year-old has played in every regular season games in back-to-back seasons. Justin Keller is the last Rockets player to accomplish the feat. Keller went three consecutive seasons without missing a game.
  • The Rockets were an impressive 4-1-2-1 against the Giants in the seasonal series.
  • The game marked the end of the regular season careers of Brett Lyon and Cody Chikie. Lyon played 224 regular season games and racked up 606 career penalty minutes. Chikie played 201 regular season games and finished with 97 career points.
  • The Rockets earned 72 points this season, 15 fewer than last season. The 72 points wouldn't have been good enough to earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In fact, the Rockets would have been 10 points short.
  • The Rockets wore specially designed St. Patrick's Day jersey's that were white with green and yellow trim. Those uniforms were auctioned off after the game.
  • All the fans attending the Rockets final home game of the regular season received a team poster. (shown above)
  • To wrap up a busy weekend, the Rockets year end awards banquet is Sunday afternoon and then it is time to concentrate on the playoffs which open this Friday in Portland.

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