Thursday, December 6, 2012

Getting away with a win with a less than stellar effort

  • It only made sense that Kelowna Rockets forward Dylen McKinlay would be credited with Wednesday night's game winning goal. Why? Because it was ugly, much like the Rockets effort in a 6-5 home ice win over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. McKinlay's game winner came in the third period after he was pushed into the net and line mate Cody Fowlie fired a shot that struck the startled 20 year-old and went past Broncos goaltender Eetu Laurikainen. The goal was one of four the Rockets would score in the third period to extend their home ice winning streak to 11 games. 
  • The first period was as bad a period as we've seen at Prospera Place this season. You can thank the visitors for that with a text book road game. Greasy, slow with no flow and few scoring chances. It was tough to watch. The two teams combined for just 12 shots with 19 year-old Adam Lowry getting his first of three on the night on a goal that appeared to go off his skate and past Rockets goaltender Jordon Cooke. Cooke attempted to play the puck behind the net but it was quickly centered and went off Lowry's skate blade and into the net. The Winnipeg Jets draft pick would score a shorthanded goal (penalty shot) and a power play goal to help his team build up a 3-1 second period lead. It looked like Swift Current would win their first game of a BC Division road trip but the Rockets had other ideas.
  • The biggest goal of the game likely came when 16 year-old Broncos rookie d-man Brycen Martin took a slashing penalty with under two minutes to play in the second period. With Martin's team up 3-1, Rockets leading scorer Myles Bell found teammate Ryan Olsen at the side of the net with a perfect pass and the home team went into the dressing room down by one. It was Olsen's 15th goal of the season and team leading eighth on the power play. Olsen had 15 goals all of last season. 
  • The Rockets gave up two shorthanded goals. It marked the second time this season that has happened. The Rockets lost 3-2 in Tri City in late November when Justin Feser scored a pair of goals while the Rockets were enjoying the power play.
  • I am not often critical on Jordon Cooke, but I thought the 19 year-old goaltender had a rough game. I thought Broncos goaltender Eetu Laurikainen was better, but failed to make a crucial stop on J.T Barnett in the third period. Barnett's goal beat the Finnish goalie to tie the game at 3. The 19 year-old rookie made two huge saves though against Colton Heffley in the second period and another nice left pad save against Henrik Nyberg in the third. Both saves are WHL Plays of the Week material, especially the desperation save against Heffley in the second period.
  • It marked the first time this season the Rockets have come back after trailing after 40 minutes. 
  • Despite giving up two shorthanded goals, the Rockets killed off a crucial 5 on 3 in the second period when Cole Martin was tagged for tripping and Mitch Wheaton went to the box for shooting the puck over the glass. The Broncos owned the second best power play heading into Wednesday's game but manufactured little on that ideal opportunity. The visitors would score shortly after though as Martin took another penalty 16 seconds later.
  • The Rockets played the game without captain Colton Sissons, who is out with an upper body injury.
  • With their 12th win on home ice this season, the Rockets own the second best home winning percentage in the WHL. Only Portland's is slightly better. The Rockets have 12 home ice wins. Portland and Kamloops have 13 but have played more home games than the Rockets have.  
  • Broncos 1st round pick Glenn Gawdin made his WHL debut, but outside of warm up, I don't think he saw the ice. If he did, I didn't notice him. 
  • While it is obvious that Adam Lowry was the best Bronco, I sure liked the play of d-man Reece Scarlett. I thought he made good decisions and blocked a lot of shots. Graham Black is a minus three at games end but he too had a lot of try in his game. 
  • The Rockets are now 5 and 0 against teams in the Eastern Division, with wins over Swift Current, Saskatoon, Brandon, Moose Jaw and Regina. The only team we haven't seen is first place Prince Albert.

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