Thursday, January 30, 2014

From in control to out of control


Photo by Marissa Baecker
  • Now they know how the Brandon Wheat Kings feel. Back on December 13th the Kelowna Rockets shocked the Wheat Kings in a come-from-behind 6-5 overtime win. The Wheat Kings were in total command of that game with a 5-3 lead with less than three minutes left in regulation time. The visitors would roar back and score three unanswered goal including the game winner in overtime in a shocking comeback. Last night at Prospera Place, the Spokane Chiefs scored three-third period goals and then found the game winner from defenceman Jason Fram in a shocking 6-5 shootout win. Yep, the top team in the WHL had a 5-2 lead heading into the third period after a dominating second where they scored four goals and out-shot the Chiefs 20-6. The third period was a different story though, as the comeback started with a goal just 25 seconds into the third period and the rally was on.
  • The Chiefs elected to change goaltenders after 40 minutes as 20 year-old Brian Williams was replaced  by back-up Garret Hughson. Did Spokane head coach Don Nachbaur make the change to give his team a spark or was he saving Williams from a tough night where his goals against average was going to take a beating? If you want to believe that the change was made to give his team a boost, then I guess it worked. Honestly, a goaltendering change usually makes little difference but the Chiefs played a much more inspired game in the third period regardless, out-shooting the Rockets 13-4. And lets give Hughson some credit here. The 18 year-old stopped all 8 shots he faced, including all six shooters in the shootout. 
  • The Kelowna Rockets still have much to learn. They have the best record in the WHL but like any junior hockey team they made mistakes that will  need correction with 23 games left in the regular season. The Rockets made uncharacteristic errors in the third period by failing to make the easy play inside their own zone. Specifically the defenceman over-handled pucks and instead of moving the puck up ice, played it behind their net resulted in at least one goal making the score 5-4. The decision making process when under siege has to change. The Rockets will never be in total control of the game. Last night's third period has to be used as a learning tool so when it happens again - which it will - they will be better prepared to make the right decisions. 
  • I didn't like two of three penalty calls made against the Rockets in the third period, specifically the Kris Schmidli penalty with five minutes left in the third period which resulted in the games tying goal.  But in saying that, why as a player do you put yourself in that position to take a questionable penalty late in the game? You have to play smart. You can make contact, but you can't take an extra stride or leave your feet. You can't use your stick in a careless manner. The officials will be looking for any minor infraction, especially when you've been granted five straight power plays.
  • Speaking of the power play, a true positive in last night's setback. While giving up a shorthanded goal, the extra man generated two goals including a beautiful pass from Ryan Olsen to Rourke Chartier to make the score 4-2. The key to the power play was quicker puck movement. Colton Heffley's power play goal snapped a 0 for 27 slump.
  • I thought Ryan Olsen had a great game. The 19 year-old had a goal and two assists and worked hard. I thought he was the teams best older forward. Again, a quiet night for the line of Tyson Baillie, Myles Bell and Tyrell Goulbourne. Those three have to be difference makers in games against the better teams. That line didn't generate a point and two of those three players are the top two point producers.        
  • Ugly stat of the night. Three of the Rockets top four point getters (Bell, Baillie and Bowey) didn't register a point last night. If your last name started with 'B' it was bad news. 
  • The Rockets can thank Jordon Cooke for the one point earned in the shootout. Cooke made a glove hand save on Adam Helewenka in the third period that will surely make the WHL Plays of the Week. It was a tremendous save when the Chiefs were buzzing inside the Rockets zone. I thought Cooke did a good job of bouncing back after surrendering a goal by Spokane's Reid Gow 8 minutes into the game.
  • A rough night for the defensive pairing of Cole Martin and Madison Bowey. You won't often see those two with a combined rating of -4. Martin and  Bowey were asked to play against the Chiefs top line, which included WHL points leader Mitch Holmberg. Speaking of Holmberg, a quiet night for the 20 year-old yet he still walked away from Prospera Place with a goal and two assists. Hard to call that a quiet night, but seriously he didn't stand out in a big way. Holmberg is very opportunistic and makes smart plays, whether it be in the o-zone or at the other end of the ice. Holmberg is sneaky good.
  • Colton Heffley's goal was his first in 15 games and matches his goal total from last season.  
  • Damon Severson's goal was his first in nine games. That was the New Jersey Devils longest scoring drought of the season.
  • The loss snapped the teams 9 game home ice winning streak.
  • The Rockets are 4-3 in the shootout. The three shootout losses have come against Victoria, Seattle and Spokane.  

4 comments:

Jared Comeau said...

To be honest Regan, even at 2 PPG for, I am not fully impressed by this team's powerplay effort. The Olsen PPG was one scored on a broken play by the Chiefs, so really, not a byproduct of a decently executed Powerplay, in fact, I thought that specific PP was poorly executed from start-Goal.

Yeah, the PP got you two goals, but the PP itself looked all kinds of out of sorts.

Jared Comeau said...

To be honest Regan, even at 2 PPG for, I am not fully impressed by this team's powerplay effort. The Olsen PPG was one scored on a broken play by the Chiefs, so really, not a byproduct of a decently executed Powerplay, in fact, I thought that specific PP was poorly executed from start-Goal.

Yeah, the PP got you two goals, but the PP itself looked all kinds of out of sorts.

g.k said...

Wow what a second period by the Rockets last night but that was it, they really need to learn to play that way for sixty mins. to be a great team in this leaque. I would suggest that Bailie & Bell be split up, they just don't seem to have any cohesiveness, & look slow & tired, and I know Bowie is young but come on he's the captain & must set an example & not give the puck away so much, dumb lazy plays as far as I can see.

Regan Bartel said...

Jared: The Olson goal was not a power play. Chartier's goal was excellent and was on the power play. You can't draw it up any better than that. The other pp goal was Severson's blast from the point.

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