Saturday, March 23, 2013

T-birds turn the tables

  • The Seattle Thunderbirds brought their lunch buckets to the game last night and the Kelowna Rockets brought their nerves. The end result was a visiting team that looked as confident as the home team should have been in the game one upset victory. Seattle looked in control despite trailing three times in the game. The Rockets, the favorites heading into the series, looked out of sync making ill advised passes and looked like a team that hadn't played in a week. It was a bad night for the home team without question. The good news is the Rockets played so poorly and almost won. Regardless, the T-Birds came into a building where no one expected them to win. Seattle has a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series with game two tonight at Prospera Place.
  • Luke Lockhart has been a streaky scorer in his WHL career. The 20 year-old had 25 goals this season but often found himself going long stretches without finding the back of the net. Lockhart went 17 games without a goal earlier this season. But in saying that, don't be surprised that he scored twice last night. Lockhart, from all indications, is a character player that wears the 'C' on his jersey for good reason. Funny how the will to win takes over in the playoffs when the checking gets tighter and the character players rise to the top.
  • Lockhart wasn't the only bright spot for the T-Birds. I thought Jesse Forsberg really brought it on the back end. It shocked me. I thought Forsberg really struggled at Prospera Place in two regular season games and often gave up the puck with mindless decisions. He wasn't without his errors in game one,  but he played to his strengths and made some good decisions with and without the puck. I also thought Seattle goaltender Brandon Glover was solid. 
  • Seattle also did a great job of blocking shots by sacrificing the body at every turn. Was it not T-Birds Griffin Foulk that blocked a shot by taking the puck right in the mid section? Had the rookie d-man not made that play, Zach Franko would have had a goal glove hand side on Glover.    
  • Few bright spots for the Rockets. Goaltender Jordon Cooke surrendered 5 goals but how many big saves was he forced to make? If Cooke was as shaky as the teammates in front of him the T-Birds wouldn't have had to use overtime. How about the save Cooke made when the Rockets appeared to only have four skaters on the ice with a face-off inside the Rockets zone late in the third? Cooke made two brilliant saves to keep the game tied. 
  • The Rockets had ample chances to bury the T-Birds when they were granted several power play chances, including four opportunities in the first 17 minutes of the game. In all four, good perimeter puck movement but few quality shots.   
  • I thought a couple of veteran players really struggled. Game one jitters? For now I will bite my tongue and hope for a bounce back in game two.  
  • Solid crowd last night. Close to 55 hundred. Not a sell out but no complaints from me. Lots of T-Birds fans in the building. 
  • Nice to have former Kelowna Rockets tough guy Scott Parker join us on AM 1150 in the first intermission. Parker admitted to me that he too is suffering, to a degree, with the after effects of  punches to the head. Thanks to Gavin Hamilton of the Kelowna Rockets for setting up that interview with Parker on short notice.
  • See you at the rink tonight. Hey, Eric Stansfield's 'Inside Sports' is on location from 5 pm until 6:30 pm at Manhattan Point Restaurant so check him out live or listen to him on AM 1150.   


Doug Gray said...

Indeed the boys were not at their best last night, but I am sure they will be ready for tonight's second game!
Not to sound too negative, but the whole place was not at its best last night. As dedicated fans we showed up for playoff hockey and the atmosphere was anything but that. Were there noise makers on our seats? Was there any effort to get the fans into the game? No! and No! Instead, we had to endure the usual silly giveaway of near useless prizes during game delays. Then, whenever the fans attempted to show some spirit it was squashed with big screen advertisements and, for the most part, very poor choice of music. Mr. Hamilton, you have provided us fans with incredible teams, but the 'show' is dead last in the league and the blatent advertising now beyond tolerable, and maybe that explains the declining attendance. You cannot even pack out the house for the playoffs on a Friday night with the #1 team in the division. Perhaps you have not given back to us fans??? My family and I are die hard Rocket fans, but must admit, the travel to other rinks is worth it, to be part of a good old Canadian hockey game...great atmosphere, so much better food choice and time to make lots of noise for the home team! We couldn't even get lower bowl tickets for the last game in Vancouver, as over 14,000 fans showed up for a great time, even though their team was in last place and eliminated from the playoffs! Why? The fans were appreciated and catered to and the Vancouver organization obviously understands that hockey is part of the entertainment business. At best, we might get a white towel, plasterd with adverstisements, if our team can proceed through the playoffs. Please let us be part of the show and not just customers who pay to sit quietly and watch:) Our Rockets deserve some seriously excited fans! This is the first year that I did not purchase our season ticket seats for the playoffs and if I don't see some changes made, I may join those other ex-season ticket holders who just pay for the games they want to see, and listen to the rest with the two best WHL radio broadcasters in the business!

Marc S said...

I had some trouble getting the audio stream to work until late in the first, but the game sounded very exciting. Of course as a T-bird fan I'm delirious :) I hope all the games in the series are as exciting. I can't wait until Tuesday to actually watch a game. Hopefully my computer cooperates a bit better from the get-go tonight. Props to the Kelowna Rocket website for posting the highlights, it was really nice to see them.

Lockhart is streaky, but he has been hot in March, in the last 8 regular season games he had 12 points (6g,6a). I think playing 6 of their last 8 against, Tri-City, Spokane, and Portland has done well to prepare the T-birds for the playoffs.

Doug, why do you need noisemakers on your seats? You have the majority of the crowd, making noise with your hands, feet and mouth shouldn't be that difficult. I always shake my head when I go to an Everett game or listen to a Tri-City game at all the cowbells, I don't understand why the home team needs that, it just seems like the fans are lazy to me. I'm looking forward to losing my voice on Tuesday and Wednesday :)

Sports Nut said...


Sports Nut said...

I wasn't at the first game but went to the second (snooze) second game and the boys need to step it up or they will be working on their golf games. Too much standing around, only one line hustling consistently throughout the game.
I agree with Doug Gray in his comments about the atmosphere in the building. Get an organist or someone queuing the music to the pace of the game. Those adds on the big screen might produce $$ into the pockets of the owners but they do nothing to encourage the fans to cheer on their team. Like a lot of things around Kelowna nothing greatly improves if the status quo is producing a healthy profit for the owners. The between ice contests really lack enthusiasm and any real prizes. Bring back the 'shoot at the goal' for big prizes for the loyal fans. Come on boys pick it up for game 3 in Seattle and show up this time.