Thursday, February 27, 2014

50 shades, teal and red

Saturday Night Live's Sally O'Malley - I'm 50!
  • The Kelowna Rockets were expected to have a good team heading into this season. With the loss of just four players from the 2012-2013 squad that won 52 times, expectations were they could challenge for a league title. It would be safe to say 50 wins would be tough to accomplish though, especially after just 63 regular season games had been played. Last night in Tri City, Myles Bell scored the shootout winner in a 4-3 victory over the Americans. The win marked the first time in franchise history the team earned 50 or more wins in back-to-back season. With nine games left to go, the Rockets have a 7 point lead on Portland for first place in the overall WHL standings. 
  • The Rockets had to use late game heroics in this one after building up a 2-0 first period lead. Marek Tvrdon opened the scoring and then Myles Bell found the back of the net with his 40th of the season which put the road team in a comfortable position. The Americans had other ideas though. Three unanswered goals had the home team with the lead late in the third period until Tvrdon scored his second of the game to send this one into overtime and the eventual shootout.
  • The Rockets are a perfect 4 and 0 on the road in the shootout. At home they stink with only one win in five shootout games.
  • Bell's goal in regulation time came shorthanded. The 20 year-old is the first player since Geordie Wudrick to score 40 or more goals in a season. Wudrick had 43 goals. Bell has an outside shot at 50 but would have to pick up the pace with nine games left in the regular season. You would think a 45 goal season is within reach.
  • Marek Tvrdon has obviously found his game. Playing with Nick Merkley and Rourke Chartier, the trade deadline acquisition now has 19 points in 20 games. Tvrdon has put up two solid back-to-back efforts. It will be interesting to see how he plays against his old team - the Vancouver Giants - in a home and home series this weekend.
  • How about Cole Linaker getting into a fight? With just 12 penalty minutes heading into the game, Linaker elected to drop the mitts with 6'4 Justin Gutierrez. It was Linaker's first fight of the season and Gutierrez's 8th.
  • The best tilt of the night came in the second period when Rockets d-man Riley Stadel fought Americans forward Rodney Southam. These two players threw some nice bombs at one another in a split decision. Did you know that Stadel has 8 fighting majors this season? Team leader Tyrell Goulbourne has 10.
  • Jackson Whistle earned the start and recorded his 8th consecutive win. The 18 year-old, who was less spectacular than he was in a 2-1 win last Friday in Prince George, also earned his 15th win of the season, one more than the 14 he had last season.
  • The Rockets won both games in Tri City this season. That is the first time that has happened in 11 seasons. The last time the team won both regular season games at Toyota Centre was in 2002-2003.
  • The Rockets needed these two wins over the last two night's to take advantage of the games in hand they had on Portland. Now with nine games left to go it is a fight to the finish to see who earns the right to be declared WHL regular season champions which means home ice advantage in the playoffs.
  • Something tells me the Rockets are going to be back in Kennewick Washington for the WHL playoffs. While only holding a two point lead on Prince George for the 8th and final playoff spot, I can't bet against a team that has Eric Comrie as their starting goaltender. The Americans, while having a tougher schedule than PG, do have three games in hand.
  • The Rockets are now 5-16-0-0 with one tie in their last 22 regular season appearances at Toyota Centre. That just shows you how good the Americans have been on home ice over the years.
  • In talking to Annie Fowler, the beat writer for the Americans, it was confirmed that the Tri City Herald Best of the West Poll has met its end. The poll, which allowed players, coaches/management and media to vote on several categories has been a staple for the last 25 years and has always been an interesting conversation piece.  The process is time consuming and receiving ballots from teams was always a chore. Let's hope after a one year hiatus it returns next season.

1 comment:

jaz301 said...

A 50+ win season is really impressive. Doing it back to back is even more impressive. This year hopefully we will see a great playoff run.

Bell is having a great season again. If bell didn't have slow start would most likely have 50 goals and 100+ points. But I guess what matters is he has found his game and no sense pondering on what could of been. Focus on what is now.

Getting a little ahead of myself I know, but I am looking forward to next season seeing what Whistle can do as a starting goaltender. He's been impressive as back up so hopefully he will be spectacular as a starter.

Playoffs are like 3 weeks away!!!! As a fan we can get excited. For the players they need to focus on the season. You start looking ahead is when you start losing. These last 9 games are important. If Portland were to finish rest of season without losing rockets would need to win 6 of last 9 games to keep first place overall.