Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rockets capture regular season crown

  • It has been referred to by management as the worst schedule the Kelowna Rockets have ever endured. I'm just glad the players didn’t catch on to how taxing it really was. For the third time in franchise history the Rockets are WHL regular season champions. Ryan Olsen scored twice while Nick Merkley and Tyrell Goulbourne also scored in a 4-1 win Wednesday night in Kamloops. Had it not been for the spectacular play of Blazers starting goaltender Bolton Pouliot, this game would have been ugly.  Instead, thanks to Pouliot’s first star performance, the Blazers were within a goal with under four minutes to play in the third period. Tyrell Goulbourne sealed it with a backhand shot that beat Pouliot, who made the first save but couldn't contain the rebound.
  • While Pouliot was great and one end, Rockets starter Jackson Whistle was no slouch at the other. Despite facing only eight shots through the final 40 minutes, Whistle was especially sharp in the first period when the two teams combined for 23 shots. Even over the final two periods, Whistle made a handful of good stops despite the majority of the game being played at the other end of the ice.
  • It was hard to believe but just one penalty was called in the first 40 minutes of the game. It was an interference call with just over four minutes left in the second. Mike Campbell and Mark Pearce read the game correctly and didn’t have to get involved. It wasn’t a chippy game in the least bit and they both stayed out of it rather than making questionable calls. I think those two officials should be commended for getting a good feel of the game early and acting accordingly.     
  • The Rockets won all eight games against the Blazers during the regular season. The last time that happened was 2009 when they won all nine games including a four game sweep in the opening round of the playoffs.
  • I thought Blazers PR Director Dave Chyzowski was kidding when before the game he shouted at me from down the hallway that I was picking the three stars. I have often chastised the Blazers for the ‘homer’ picks they make when handing out the three stars. Chyzowski was a man of his word, handing me the form to fill out with six minutes left in the game. It was an honour to pick the stars in the opposition building. I say that seriously. I was also pleased that the Blazers faithful gave a huge round of applause for my first star - and the obvious choice - Blazers goaltender Bolton Pouliot.
  • Pouliot deserves a lot of credit for not quitting despite being peppered and likely feeling the pain of a long season. It was an inspirational effort. Not to be out done, I thought Blazers d-man Ryan Rehill was excellent in blocking numerous shots. The 18 year-old was not mailing it in.
  • The Rockets will face the Tri City Americans in the first round of the playoffs. Games one and two are Saturday and Sunday – March 22nd and 23rd. These two teams have a long playoff history. They met in 2010, 2009, 2004 and 1996.    
  • The Rockets end the regular season with a home and home series this weekend against the Vancouver Giants. Make no mistake, the Rockets won't get burned like they did one season ago when on the last weekend of the regular season they played the Giants and ended up losing captain Colton Sissons to a broken collarbone.

1 comment:

g.k said...

Congratulations Rockets on a great season. Wish you could just forfit these last two games as we all know what the Giants will be trying to prove, just as they did last year!! Rest up & stay healthy for a long playoff run!!