Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bell ignores the boo's and blasts home the OT winner

  • The number 10 in the urban dictionary is defined as perfection. The Kelowna Rockets are anything but perfect but are riding a ten game winning streak after a 5-4 overtime win Saturday night in Regina. Myles Bell played the role of hero for a second straight night when his wrist shot found the back of the net for the team’s 26th win of the season. Of the ten wins during the streak, four have come courtesy of an Eastern Conference road trip that has the WHL point leaders playing six games in eight nights. Few teams find success over a grueling schedule, but the Rockets are earning valuable points in the standings and are serving notice that they are tough to beat when rolling all four lines.
  • The Pats were the team with more jump in the first period. Two goals in a span of 19 seconds had the Rockets in a huge hole early in the game. Coach Huska had no choice but to call a time out and set his team straight. Mitch Wheaton would eventually score a power play goal and the damage at periods end saw the visitors down by just one after a less than energetic opening 20 minutes.
  • The second period is when the Rockets found their legs. Out-scoring the Pats 3-2 in the period, the persistent fore-check the Pats applied diminished. Instead the Rockets played a good portion of the period in the offensive zone, generating 22 shots while only giving up six. The Pats had the lead three times and the pesky Rockets, like a mosquito on a hot prairie day, wouldn’t relent. Every time the Pats struck for a goal to take the lead, the Rockets had an answer.  
  • I feel especially happy for Myles Bell. Making his first appearance in Regina since a trade to Kelowna in 2011, Bell was heading into hostile territory Saturday night and delivered on the ice with a goal and an assist. The boo’s were clearly audible in the first period whenever he touched the puck, yet the now 20 year-old found the mental resolve by scoring the winner and collecting a helper on Mitch Wheaton’s first goal of the season. Bell is back to being the old Myles Bell that led the team with 38 goals last season. Deadly with the puck on his stick, the Calgary resident is a lethal weapon that is becoming the difference maker everyone projected he would be in his final season in the WHL.
  • Tyson Baillie ended the night with a goal and three assists. The four point night matched his two goal and two assist effort in the second game of the season against the Kamloops Blazers. Baillie now has a team leading 22 assists and a team leading 35 points, four more than Ryan Olsen.    
  • It was nice to run into ex-Rockets Craig Cuthbert and Cody Fowlie after the game. The two are playing with the University of Regina men’s hockey team. ‘Little Cutter’ is taking Business Administration and is in his final semester. I love the alumni that I witnessed as immature 16 year-old junior players now grown up into maturing men.
  • Getting to the rink early afforded me the chance to catch up with Saskatchewan Roughriders radio voice Rod Pedersen. We shared some good stories and a few laughs. ’Roddy’ is a beauty, who still calls the occasional Pats game for local TV.
 Random Thoughts: 
  • He won’t get much media attention, nor would he expect to, but our bus driver Mel Billings deserves a lot of credit for getting us door-to-door during this road trip. Billings deserves a pat on the back for what he does. Mel is the man driving the bus in the wee hours of the morning as we, his passengers, put our trust in him to get us from point A to point B. It is a big responsibility with little fan fare.    
  • I was asked the other day by a buddy of mine from Regina if I still liked what I do. I guess it takes a special/odd personality to be driving around the prairies two weeks before Christmas with a bunch of junior hockey players. When I no longer care about the players and the coaches and if they succeed or fail, that will be my cue to call it quits.When the day comes where a win doesn’t excite me or a loss makes me agitated, then I will know I’ve had enough.
  • For those wondering, the price of gas in Regina is 118.9 cents a litre at most Regina gas stations. It is a sure sign that we don’t get hosed in the winter in the Okanagan like we do in the summer when we get pillaged by excessively high gas prices.   
  • I receive a real nice e-mail from Charles Martin this week, a Rockets season ticket holder and a regular reader of this blog. Martin had some encouraging words for me as we make our way across the cold prairies. His letter included the fact he is enjoying the sun in Maui right now as we experience temperatures in the low -20’s. Am I envious? Darn rights.   

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