Sunday, January 26, 2014

Penalty trouble plays role in Rockets road loss

  • Simply put, the Seattle Thunderbirds played with more desperation. The end result was a 4-1 win over the visiting Kelowna Rockets Sunday in a much anticipated game between two playoff rivals.  The T-Birds were willing to hit, block shots and sacrifice the body in an effort to record the win.  A shot block by T-Birds defenceman Adam Henry on Rockets rookie Dalton Yorke two minutes into the game was a sign of the home team’s commitment to winning at any cost.  It was a constant theme as the T-Birds proved they are legitimate contenders in the Western Conference.
  • I don’t think it would be fair to suggest the Rockets started slowly. With about five minutes remaining in the first period the visitors had a 11-3 shot advantage. Tyrell Goulbourne would score a shorthanded goal to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick’s jump in his step was a sign of things to come as Goulbourne was the team’s best forward. Celebrating his 20th birthday, Goulbourne skated hard throughout the 60 minute effort and played arguably one of his best games this season.   
  • The turning point was the Rockets inability to score a power play goal when the game was tied at one. Jaimen Yakubowski was assessed a double minor for a hit to the head and an unsportsmanlike penalty yet the Rockets couldn’t score. That ugly thing called momentum shifted after the Yakubowski penalty expired and the T-Birds scored 27 second later to make the score 2-1. It was the second of four unanswered goals for Seattle, who won for the 31st time this season. 
  • The Rockets took far too many penalties. It was so uncharacteristic of this team, which prides itself on being smart with their sticks and tracking down the puck without taking the easy way out. I saw far too many lazy penalties which resulted in hooking or tripping calls. The T-Birds were awarded eight power play chances and scored two goals, including a 5 on 3 goal when both Carter Rigby and Madison Bowey were in the penalty box.     
  • What did Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert think of the effort? His comment on the post game show told the story. “I think it is a combination of us being a little bit lazy, a little fatigue but I think a lot of it is arrogance. We have had a lot of success and I think all of a sudden we think we are invincible and that’s not the case. As soon as you start thinking that, then not so good things happen”, Lambert added.      
  • The frustrating aspect of the teams play in the T-Birds zone was the missed shots on net. Often the Rockets were simply to fine in shooting for corners and missing high and wide.  
  • It wasn’t all negative. I thought the line of Justin Kirkland, Cole Linaker and Kris Schmidli worked hard and Ryan Olsen and Nick Merkley had some good ‘try’ in their game.  I also thought Dalton Yorke, for the rare shifts he received, had some bright moments. Of the 34 shots on net, Yorke had at least two of them.  
  • Two scouts that I spoke with prior to the game were specifically in Kent to see 17 year-old Justin Kirkland. Oddly, both were from the same team – the Vancouver Canucks.   
  • It marked only the second time this season the Rockets have lost in regulation time after opening the scoring.
  • How good is Shea Theodore? Yikes. The smooth skating defenceman is the same age as Madison Bowey. A 1995 born player, Theodore is as good a d-man as you will find in the WHL right now. Can anyone skate as well as he can? The only thing holding him back is his defensive play and from what I witnessed Sunday night, right now that isn't much of a factor when you can make decisions as quickly with the puck as he can. 
  • The Rockets have lost only twice to a U.S based team. Both setbacks were on the road to Seattle and Spokane.
  • The Rockets have lost four of their last eight road games.  
  • The Rockets are now 10-2-0-0 in three in three night situations.

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