Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sand in face doesn't sit well with Rockets

  • I may be dating myself, but do you remember the print ad for Charles Atlas that first appeared in comic books in the 40's? If you don't, check the advertisement at the right. The Kelowna Rockets, who had sand kicked in their faces Friday night in Vancouver, muscled up and literally fought back 24 hours later in an impressive 4-2 win in the back end of a home and home series between the two BC Division rivals. The Giants tried to push the Rockets around in front of a sell out crowd of 6,172 Saturday night, but the home town team wouldn't have any of it. Just ask Tyrell Goulbourne, who clocked Giants forward Tim Traber with a series of punches in a second period scrap that left the 20 year-old bloodied after the one sided tilt. It was Goulbourne's first fighting major in 16 games but it didn't show. This wasn't a staged fight. This was picture perfect raw emotion. 
  • Was I the only one in the building that thought the game had a playoff feel to it? Obviously not as head coach Ryan Huska agreed on his post game show comments. Huska told his players to treat it just like a playoff game. The intensity was there. The nastiness was there and if anything, the gritty play by the visitors woke up the home team, who looked sleepy the night before in a 4-2 loss. It was old school hockey. But again, when someone kicks sand in your face, you can cower or come right back and show them you won't be pushed around. What I saw Saturday night was the exposing of the Rockets true character. It was only a 4-2 victory at games end, but the win was far greater than that on so many levels.
  • Jordon Cooke was terrific. How good was he early in the game and in the third period with several timely saves? I didn't much like his play in Portland despite back-to-back wins because he complicated things by doing too much and not letting the puck hit him. Saturday night, Cooke's positioning was excellent and his athleticism was on display. When he plays like that is he not the best goaltender in the Western Conference?
  •  I sure wish Myles Bell would quit teasing me and just go out there and score a hat trick. Bell scored twice in the 4-2 win but has yet to add a three goal game to his resume. I am so happy for Bell that he has regained his form from last season. Bell now has the 6th most goals of any player in the WHL with 23. Not bad for a player who had one goal in 12 games from November 2nd to December 6th.       
  • Every once in a while, colour analyst Gord McGarva surprises me with a comment on our radio broadcast. McGarva had this to say about the Rockets 16 game winning streak that came to an end Friday night in a 4-2 setback to the Giants. "It is better to be concerned about winning 16 games in late March than it is now. Sixteen wins in late March means you have won a league title and are off to the Memorial Cup in London, Ontario". True enough. Well said. Sixteen wins are far more important starting in late March then they are now. 
  • You can make it back-to-back sellouts for the Rockets. Tip of the cap to those that took in Saturday's game. Interest in the team has never been higher as fans gravitate to a winner. Everyone wants to be associated with success and if being a fan of your local team fills that void, so be it.
  • How do you like Tyrell Goulbourne's endorsement on the big screen for Jiffy Lube? He better be getting free oil changes with that endorsement deal. 
  • Up next? A six game road trip which includes a four game Central Division swing which starts Wednesday in Edmonton. Lets hope rookie Nick Merkley is back in the line up. While only 16, the kid is a difference maker. Merkley has 10 power play assists. Only Tyson Baillie has more with 11. Merkley and teammate Joe Gatenby return to the team after winning a silver medal at the Under 17's in Nova Scotia. 

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