Goaltender Jackson Whistle earned his first victory with the Kelowna Rockets Friday night in a 4-1 win in Victoria. Whistle made 20 saves in the win, his first and second career WHL victories. The Rockets need Whistle to push starter Jordon Cooke by proving to his teammates and the coaching staff that he deserves more than the occasional start.
The penalty killing unit was very good on the weekend. In two games the Rockets faced 12 shorthanded situation and killed off 11 of them. The only power play they surrender was the game winner Saturday night when Ben Walker scored with just over two minutes left in regulation time. The PK unit also killed of a critical five minute major penalty assessed to Ryan Olsen in the third period.
Rockets forward Tyrell Goulbourne challenged Royals d-man Keegan Kanzig in a bout Friday night. While Goulbourne didn't dominate the 'giant' to the extent he did last season, anytime Goulbourne challenges someone who is 6'6 and 242 pounds, you have to appreciate his courage.
The Victoria Royals fans. I believe the Royals have the best fans in the BC Division. They are definitely the loudest. The fans in Victoria come to the arena to have fun. They participate in all areas of the game. They jeer the opposition team. They cheer loudly when the little tykes hockey is played in the intermission and they are participatory when the dance cam comes a calling. The fans in Victoria come as close too an American fan base as I've seen on this side of the 49th parallel.
Ryan Olsen received a five minute major and game misconduct after hitting Royals defenceman Joe Hicketts in the third period in Saturday's 3-2 loss. The hit to the head is frowned upon by the WHL and will bring a suspension to the 18 year-old forward. Olsen should get a minimum of three games for the hit.
Royals Tim Traber likes to stir the pot, but I wasn't impressed when he punched Goulbourne when the two were apparently tied up by the linesman after a scrap. That's just cheap. I'd expect that from a rookie, not a 19 year old veteran. As comedian Russell Peters likes to say, "Be a man".
Zach Franko's consecutive games played streak ended Saturday night. Franko didn't play after receiving a hit in Friday's 4-1 win. Up to that point, the 19 year-old had played 153 consecutive games, which means he hadn't missed a regular season game in two years.
The Rockets are still taking untimely penalties, which in the end are costing them points in the standings. For the third time this season a Rockets player takes a bad penalty late in the game, resulting in a goal against. Damon Severson was the guilty party Saturday when he took a penalty late in the third period in a 2-2 game. With Severson in the box, Ben Walker scores with game winner and the Rockets leave the building without a point.
The schedule. Over the last three weekends, the Rockets have been on the road. Stops in Portland, Prince George and now Victoria takes its toll. Since opening night, the Rockets have played seven of their first ten games on the road. That's a lot of bus time. After a short two game home stand this week with games against Prince George and Brandon, it is back on the road for games in Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary next week to bring the month of October to an end.