Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hoo - hoo - hoo. They went 6 and 0!

  • Hoo, hoo, hoo they went 6 and 0.The Kelowna Rockets did what many said ‘couldn’t be done’ in a six game sweep of the Eastern Division. The Rockets put an exclamation mark on the 10 day road trip Tuesday night with a dominating 7-1 win over the Saskatoon Blades. For the first time in this road trip the game was over after the opening 20 minutes. In a one-one tie, Tyson Baillie and Rourke Chartier scored goals 19 seconds apart to take a 3-1 lead into the dressing room. From there it was all downhill for the Blades. Like a good long distance runner, the Rockets wanted to finish the race hard and scored two more times in the second and two more times in the third for their 28th win of the season. The team ends the pre-Christmas break with 28 wins, three regulation losses and two shootout losses.
  • The win set a franchise record. The team has now won 13 consecutive road games, seven shy of the league record of 20 set by the Calgary Hitmen in 2000. With one loss in 16 road games, only Portland has scored more road goals (79 compared to 75) but has also played three more games.     
  • It only seemed fitting that the Rockets would win their final game of the road trip with six different scorers. It has been like that all trip. Scoring by committee has been the common theme for the first half of the season. Oh sure, Myles Bell had multiple goal games on this trip, as did Carter Rigby, but this isn’t a one man band. The Rockets only play finally tunes music when they play a team game with no one individual doing the heavy lifting. Let me correct myself slightly on that statement. The exception would be goaltender Jordon Cooke, who on at least three occasions in the first 33 games was the first star and was likely the difference between a win and a loss.
  • The real key to the road trips success was the older players finally scoring on a regular basis. The cold prairie air allowed Myles Bell to regain his confidence. The 20 year-old was clearly a force on this trip and scored three massive goals. Bell scored twice in overtime and once late in the game in Brandon to tie the score. The Calgary resident was money. Fellow 20 year-old Zach Franko and nineteen year-old Ryan Olsen were also solid contributors on the trip. Tyson Baillie was also good, and as the teams leading scorer, he too came to the table when called upon. 
  • The most impressive win of the six games came in Brandon obviously. The comeback was impressive considering how poorly they played through 57 minutes of hockey. Down two goals with just over two minutes left and the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker, the Rockets turned into a pack of wolves before my very eyes. It was weird. It was impressive. On a dime they attacked the Wheat Kings net before Zach Franko scored to make it a one goal game, and then again with Jackson Whistle pulled, Myles Bell sent the game into overtime.
  • In my 18 years of calling WHL games on the radio, no team that I’ve been associated with has ever gotten off to this type of start. You only dream of covering a team that wins this many games before the Christmas break. I have seen some awfully impressive rosters during my time in Kelowna, but this one could be the most balanced. Just look at the top scorers in the WHL. You won’t find a Kelowna Rockets player anywhere close. Too many different players score on this team so it is distributed evenly throughout the lineup. When defensive defenceman Mitch Wheaton is able to manufacture a four point night, the belief in the room is that no one is a farm hand, a second fiddle or a bystander.  
  • Let’s talk about the jerseys. The Rockets wore the same home white jerseys for every game on the trip. What no one knew externally was those jerseys were never washed during the road trip. Nope, not once. Oh ya, they smelled putrid, but that’s the point. It was all about winning dirty and winning greasy. Playing minor hockey, all these players likely washed their jerseys once every two weeks tops. The last time the Rockets took a similar path is when they didn’t wash their jerseys in 2005-2006 and again ran the table with six consecutive wins on the Eastern Division road trip.        
  • The team arrived in Kelowna a little quieter and a lot less congested than when we headed out 11 days ago. Only three players returned with the coaching staff, trainer and radio guy. Jackson Whistle (West Kelowna), Carter Rigby (Penticton) and Joe Gatenby (Kelowna) all came back on the team bus with the satisfaction that while six wins wasn't easy, they can enjoy the Christmas break with an additional 12 points in the bank.


MG said...

Not a lot of talk on here these days. You always get more when people have something to complain about.

This team is unreal and I hope they can continue their success. It is good to see Wheaton have a four point night. His confidence and play will only get better from it.

jaz301 said...

It still amazes me how well this team is doing. Going into the Christmas break with a 28-3-0-2 record is something you would dream about, but never think it would become a reality.

The second half is interesting. It starts with 2 home games in their next 12 games, then in their next 11 games only 2 road games. Weird scheduling.

Regan I really do appreciate you writing these blogs. I am not sure how many people read them, but I always look forward to your next post. Have a Merry Christmas!

g.k said...

Congratulations Rockets for a great road trip, enjoy the time off with your families as it is well deserved! Hope you all have a Merry Christmas & let's fill Prospera Place on the 27th & give the boy's a great welcome home cheer!! By the way Regan I predicted the boy's would go 6-0 on this road trip on a previous post!! Have a great Christmas.