- J.T Barnett picked a perfect time to score his first game winning goal as a member of the Kelowna Rockets. The 20 year-old's back hand shot squeezed through the legs of Hurricanes goaltender Ty Rimmer on a first period power play, leading the Rockets to a 3-1 win. It was Barnett's fourth goal of the season and came less than a minute after teammate Carter Rigby opened the scoring on a blast from just inside the blue line.
- The coaching staff were hoping for a better start Wednesday night and the players delivered. The Rockets had some sustained pressure inside the Hurricanes zone, yet didn't manufacture a lot of quality chances. Oddly enough, it was the Hurricanes that had two tremendous chances, none better than a Jay Merkley shot from the slot that Jordon Cooke snared out of mid air. I am not sure if Cooke reads my drivel on this blog, but last week I was semi critical of his play. If he is indeed making me eat my words, good on him. Cooke has been nothing short of solid in these first two games of this Central Division road trip.
- Speaking of Cooke, he now has appeared in 25 games this season. That is the exact number of games he appeared in last season as a back up to Adam Brown. Oddly enough, he has allowed the same number of goals (63) as he did after 25 appearances last season. The only difference this year is he has played more minutes as the teams starter.
- The Rockets were clearly back on their heels in the third period when the Hurricanes put on the pressure and had a distinct territorial advantage. I counted four goal posts hit in the final period by the Hurricanes while fellow broadcaster Pat Sidlecki counted six. Regardless, the Hurricanes hit the 'skinny red guys' several times in an effort to tie the game at two.
- An empty net goal by Colton Heffley sealed the win, but the Rockets could have avoided trouble earlier but missed on two gorgeous scoring chances. Ty Rimmer robbed Carter Rigby with a huge blocker save in the second period while Cody Fowlie found daylight on a breakaway chance in the third period but lost the puck on the backhand. Had the Rockets scored on those two chances, it would have been lights out early for the Hurricanes.
- The Rockets penalty killing unit continues to be the story this season. The team killed off all four power play chances the Hurricanes were granted. That is no small feat for a Lethbridge team that has the second most power play chances of any one in the WHL. On top of that, the Hurricanes have one player tied for the league lead in power play goals. Russell Maxwell has 9.
- I thought it was a much improved game by Rigby. He was physical and did a good job of separating the man from the puck and getting it on his stick. But one solid game won't cut it. Rigby needs to play with determination every time he's in the line up, not teasing us with an occasional glimpse of brilliance. He played hard last night and it showed. Like any player at this level, if you don't put out you look pretty mediocre.
- The Rockets are 12 games above the .500 mark after 32 games. That is 21 wins in 32 games. Last season after 32 games the Rockets were 13-15-3 and 1. The Rockets have 8 more wins, 6 fewer losses and 14 more points than at this point last season.
- The Rockets are now 2 and 0 on a Central Division road trip. Back in 2003-2004, the Rockets were also involved in a road trip that featured five games in six nights. The team was on an Eastern Conference road trip prior to Christmas and won all five games.
- I know many of you Rockets fans watched the game on TV last night. From a radio perspective, the game is painfully slow. The amount of stoppages is ridiculous and the amount of needless talking that I had to do last night to fill (kill) time was crazy. Essential 13 minutes and 30 seconds is wasted on TV commercial breaks during the periods alone.
- The Kamloops Blazers are staying at the same hotel as the Rockets are in Medicine Hat. This is the second time this has happened. If I'm not mistaken, it happened last year too. Not sure how well this would have gone over in the 80's, but we are now a peaceful bunch.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Derailing the 'Cane Train'
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