Sunday, February 24, 2013

There back!

There back!
Amazing what a few days of r and r will do for a team.
Credit the coaches, training staff and players for taking advantage of a four day break from game action earlier this week. After winning just two of seven games, panic set in from everyone outside of the Rockets dressing room. What was happening? Why was this team struggling to beat Spokane, Portland and Kamloops? Folks, they were playing high end teams and were mentally and physically drained. Tired. Gassed. Pooped.
You get it?
Well rested though heading into this weekend, the Rockets looked anything but a team struggling after back-to-back impressive 8-3 and 7-2 wins over the Victoria Royals. The Rockets looked exactly like the team that treated us to a 23 game home ice winning streak and vaulted them into the CHL Top 10 rankings. As one off ice official told me after Saturday's game, "This team looks like they could make a run". After two weekend wins, I couldn't argue.

The Victoria Royals unraveled in both games and team discipline was a huge issue. The end result was a Rockets power play that struck for 6 goals on 14 opportunities. That's a success rated of 43 percent. The Royals wanted to engage in a slugfest and beat the Rockets down, literally. The Rockets preferred to take out their aggression in another manner and it provided a lopsided scoreboard that looked like this at weekends end. Kelowna Rockets 15. Victoria Royals 5.

Royals defenceman Keegan Kanzig is a big, tough player but you have to know when and when not to fight. Kanzig picks a fight with an unwilling (do you blame him) Rockets forward Colton Heffley and receives an instigator penalty. The Rockets promptly strike for a power play goal and they are off to the races. It was the start of three goals in under 2 minutes and the Rockets were up 3-0. Kanzig never saw a shift for the remainder of the first period.

The best player on the ice Saturday night was Cody Fowlie. The 20 year-old scored two goals and set up another and leaves Victoria with three goals and a career high 17 on the season. If he was still playing for his old team, the Everett Silvertips, Fowlie would be third in team scoring.

The best Royals' over the two nights were d-man Joe Hicketts and forward Ben Walker. Those two play consistently hard from puck drop to the sound of the buzzer. While the Rockets are 6 and 1 in the seasonal series, those two always impress me.

The best fight Saturday night came when Royals 19 year-old Logan Nelson elected to pick on 16 year-old Riley Stadel. Nelson traded punches and eventually got knocked down by the 5 foot 9 rookie d-man.

The Rockets were the first team this season to beat the Royals on home ice in back-to-back games. Victoria has lost seven home games this season, three of them to the Rockets.

The win Saturday night was big on so many levels. It provided renewed confidence (swagger) and moved the Rockets five points up on Kamloops for first place in the BC Division. The Rockets also moved into sole possession of second place on the overall WHL standings with nine games left in the regular season.

Up next, a date with Seattle on Thursday in the first of thankfully, three games in four nights not three games in three nights.


MG said...

I noticed at the Kamloops game and the parts of these two games in Victoria I was able to view that even the tough guys do want to go with Goulbourne. I think every player on the Kamloops team a week ago backed down from him and Kanzig should have picked his fight with some in his league like Goulbourne.

That said Goulbourne had a four point weekend and is playing good hockey right now.

jaz301 said...

Nice to see rockets winning back to back games in Victoria. Not just win the games, but to win them by a big margin to. That is the rockets team I like to see.

Really looking forward to playoffs, but there is still some games left to be played ( 9 to be exact). With Portland 13 points ahead is is highly unlikely that rockets will catch them so now rockets will have to look at finishing first in their division. The 3 games left against Kamloops will play a big role in that part.