- The Kelowna Rockets season started with an overtime loss in Kamloops. Ironically, the teams magically season would end the exact same way. Kale Kessey scored less than four minutes intro extra time in a 4-3 win, eliminating their BC Division brethren in four games. The only thing keeping this game from getting out of reach was a strong penalty killing unit and the play of goaltender Jordon Cooke. After being pulled in game three, Cooke rebounded with a worthy performance in what I would consider a statement game. Cooke had to be sharp as the Blazers were granted 10 power plays, including four in the first period. Playing shorthanded, the Rockets fell behind 3-1 only to fight back with two-third period goals to send the game into overtime for a second straight night.
- The Rockets showed great resilience despite playing their sixth game in nine days. They were gassed killing off penalty after penalty yet found a way to claw back. It was interesting to see the officiating crew wanting to show the TV audience that they indeed were in full control. In an elimination game, leading scorer Myles Bell is assessed a ten minute misconduct for something he said to one of the officials. With Bell in the box, J.T Barnett and Cole Linaker would score in a 4 and a half minute span and it was a brand new game.
- While Blazers forward Brendan Ranford was by far the best forward in the series, goaltender Cole Cheveldave was really the story in games three and four. Had Cheveldave been even average in those two games, the chances of playing a game five in Kelowna would have been extremely great. The 19 year-old made countless tremendous stops, including a few late in the game to send the contest into overtime.
- The goals by Cole Linaker and J.T Barnett were the first-third period goals the Rockets scored in the series. The biggest goal came off the stick of Tyson Baillie though. Back in the line up after being suspended for two games, Baillie got the ball rolling in the second period with a quick shot that tied the game at one. Baillie proved again he is a heart and soul player. Those are the individuals you win with when the going gets tough. Baillie really sparkled in the playoffs and emerged as a clear go-to-guy.
- J.T Barnett's presence in game three and four were immense. The 20 year-old, who unfortunately had his junior career end in overtime, added much needed offense on a team that saw their top two point producers during the regular season go quiet. Barnett played with desperation and was a true leader in every sense of the word.
- Cody Fowlie was another 20 year-old that gave so much to his team in game four. Fowlie was blocking shots and was doing everything he could in order to help his team. Fowlie's shot block on Blazers d-man Joel Edmundson in the third period was undoubtedly painful but inspiring for his teammates.
- Eight of the ten Rockets goals in the series were even strength. The only power play goal the team scored was Myles Bell's blast in game three. Ryan Olsen had a shorthanded goal in game three. The Blazers scored 18 goals in the four games, with 12 of them coming even strength.
- The crowd in Kamloops over the last two night's was tremendous. While not a sell out in either game three or four, they made significant noise and provided the building with an amazing atmosphere.
- The Rockets may hang their heads today, but the picture will become clearer in the days ahead of just how special they were. It was just that - a team. I don't think I've witnessed a group of players come together and play so well with no one individual outshining the next. With the losses of Barnett, Fowlie and Dylen McKinlay to graduation, the only other player that won't return next season is captain Colton Sissons. That's it. Of the 24 players on the roster, 20 return to defend their BC Division regular season title next season. That is an impressive number.
- It was fun calling games on the radio for a team that won 56 times (regular season/playoffs) . I have so many great memories to take away. How about tying a franchise record for wins on home ice? How about chasing down the Blazers for first place and winning the BC Division regular season banner? And don't forget the thrill of coming back from being down three games to none in their opening round playoff series to Seattle to become only the second team in WHL history to win a playoff series.
- Thanks for listening to our broadcasts on AM 1150. I appreciate the dedication and support colour analyst Gord McGarva gave me again this season. While not a broadcaster by design, Gord has made huge strides over the years by learning by doing. We often discuss how we both can be better. It is that type of open friendship that makes it work. I am indeed grateful to have Gord alongside in the broadcast booth.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Rockets' open/close season with overtime loss to Blazers
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