Players to Watch:
Rockets: Brett Bulmer and Shane McColgan. Bulmer led the team in goals (34) and was as dominant a player the WHL has seen this season when he put his mind to it. Bulmer played some of his best hockey against the elite teams, so it leads me to believe he will make a big contribution against the Hawks. The 19 year-old had six goals against Kamloops and two each against Tri City, Portland and Edmonton. McColgan had five goals and nine points in last years second round series with Portland.
Hawks: Ty Rattie. When you finish third in league scoring and you are still just 18, Rattie stands out like a player with his hair on fire. You can`t help but notice him. Rattie had 42 more points than a season ago. Does he reach 140 points as a 19 year-old next season? Rattie had 4+5=9 in four games against the Rockets in the seasonal series. Rattie had 3+3 in six games in last years second round playoff series. Joe Morrow. The 19 year-old scored 17 goals and collected 64 points on the Hawks blue line this season. Morrow is confident with the puck and has a tremendous shot from the point. Morrow was second in scoring when it came to WHL defenceman. Morrow was a 1st round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Prospects to Ponder:
Kelowna: Colton Sissons is the top rated forward from the WHL heading into the NHL draft. Sissons could have a heavy influence in this series. With 26 goals and an impressive work ethic to match, the draft eligible 18 year-old captain is worth keeping your eyes on.
Hawks: Derek Pouliot. You know how much I like Saskatchewan born players and the Weyburn produce falls into that category. A sure fire first rounder, Pouliot does a lot of solid things in the offensive zone but doesn't get the credit for his defensive exploits. It will be interesting to watch closely how much better Pouliot is than Rockets rearguard Damon Severson. Pouliot was a first round bantam pick (1st overall) while Severson was a 9th rounder in 2009. Without question the scouts will be watching.
Rockets: Adam Brown. A series upset over Portland doesn't start and end with Adam Brown but pretty close. Brown has to be one of the best players on the ice to give his team a chance. The 20 year-old will have to be like a bank robber in this series and get away with thievery in an attempt to frustrate the Hawks top scorers. In last season's second round, Brown made 45 saves in a game one win and then turned aside 54 in a game five victory.
Hawks: Mac Carruth. I don't think he gets the respect he deserves because he plays on a team with so much talent. The 19 year-old put up 42 wins, the most of any goaltender this season. It wasn't like Carruth was sitting idly by though. He made the 6th most saves of any WHL goaltender. In last years playoffs he averaged 36 saves a game, so it wasn't like he was back there having a snooze. Carruth has 32 games of playoff experience under his belt. Brown has just 13.
Players to Hate:
Kelowna: Shane McColgan. I had to throw this category in there because opposition fans will always find one or two players from each team that just grind their gears. Shane McColgan plays an agitating style that usually gets under the skin of the opposition and then backs it up with a timely goal. McColgan is like that pesky little brother than drives you crazy. He likes to yap. Hawks fans won't like him by series end but will know he is out on the ice by the way he plays.
Hawks: Who else. Brad Ross. Remember the hit he had on Zach Franko in last years playoffs? Ross too plays on the edge and loves to get into the grill of any player willing to give him attention. Ross can talk the talk and walk the walk. If you can rack up 163 penalty minutes and still score 42 goals, I want you on my team. Mac Carruth could also fall into this category and could be enemy #1 before the series is through. Regardless of what you think of these three players, remember that they play with a heart beat and love to stir it up. I would take that over a player who has little desire to compete and make a difference.
Forwards with NHL Flavor:
Kelowna: Brett Bulmer. When you start the season by playing nine games with the NHL's Minnesota Wild, you can't but be impressed by what Bulmer accomplished in early October. Did his return to junior hockey help his development? No question. Bulmer wouldn't have played in crucial situations at the NHL level and would have been with a team that regressed as the season wore on. Instead he was the go-to-guy and was named the Rockets MVP.
Hawks: Sven Bartschi: Ok, Bartschi scores three goals in four NHL games as an emergency call up. That my friends is impressive. I think the Calgary Flames got it right when they selected Bartschi in the first round. When you are 10th in league scoring and you played just 47 regular season games you are a stud. Bartschi has averaged 1.6 points per game over his short two year career. Only six times this season was he held off the score-sheet. Wow!
In the Shadows, Yet Significant:
Rockets: Carter Rigby. A 21 goal man in his rookie season, the just turned 18 year-old can provide some much needed scoring if Brett Bulmer is checked into the ice. Rigby can shoot the puck and could be 'that player' who makes a difference when everyone is counting on Sissons, Bulmer and McColgan to provide the bulk of the scoring.
Hawks: Brendan Leipsic. I really like this player. Crafty, Leipsic does so many things well and his 28 goals are a testament to how gifted this player really is. This 17 year-old will score 50 goals in this league without question. Leispic had 12 multiple point games this season. Small but mighty.
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- Huska speaks after series loss
- Rockets season ends
- WHL comments on Bulmer's suspension
- Bulmer back in
- Best effort of series translates into another loss...
- Great game, tough result
- Rockets game notes vs. Hawks
- Things that make me go hmm...
- 'Bull' becomes public enemy number 1
- Rockets down two heading home
- Mistakes Magnified
- Game Day
- Rockets practice in Portland
- Portland or bust!
- Who to watch on both sides
- Here Come The Hawks.......
- Mr. MVP
- Ending it the way they started it
- Game notes vs. Giants
- Rockets win 30th game and nine reasons why it happ...
- Game Notes vs. Tips
- Things that make me go hmm...
- Brown leads, few if any follow
- Royals inspired; Rockets lethargic
- Rockets game notes vs. Royals
- Does Bell follow in McMillan's footsteps?
- Welcome to Spokane
- Things that make me go hmm...
- 200 Point Producers; McColgan one of them
- Audio - Franko's Overtime Winner
- An unexpected 4 points?
- That's why he is so valuable
- Magic number down to one
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