Saturday, April 26, 2014

57 win season ends in five game series loss

  • The Kelowna Rockets didn't lose four straight games during the regular season. Unfortunately for the Western Hockey League regular season champions it found a way to lose four in a row when it counted most. The Portland Winterhawks scored four goals in the third period in a 7-3 win Friday night at Prospera Place, ending the Rockets season with a 4-1 series loss.   
  • The Rockets found themselves in an early hole falling behind 3-0 just 22 minutes into the game. But back-to-back goals from Tyson Baillie and Jesse Lees made it a one goal game heading into the third period. The back breaking goal came from Winterhawks d-man Mat Dumba just 59 seconds into the third period when the two teams were playing four on four. That early goal seemed to send the home team over the edge. Portland would end up scoring three more goals before Justin Kirkland ended the scoring to make it a 7-3 final.
  • The Winterhawks are defending champs for a reason. There top end players work hard and score  clutch goals. That high end finish is the best in the WHL. It takes them little to score goals. At times it looks effortless. Give them time and space and it is indeed effortless. The Rockets top players were just Ok in game five. 
  • Damon Severson would pick up two assists Friday night, giving him 18 points in the playoffs. The 19 year-old d-man, playing in his final game in the WHL, would lead the Rockets in scoring in the post season. You couldn't ask much more from Severson, who really brought it in the playoffs. The New Jersey Devils draft pick was the best 19 year-old on the Rockets roster. I thought Tyrell Goulbourne, Carter Rigby, Ryan Olsen and Colton Heffley struggled in this series. Why didn't they 'have it' at this time of the year has me scratching my head.
  • Prior to the WHL trade deadline, it looked like the Rockets needed to trade for a few older players in order to make a long push in the playoffs. I thought the team needed at least two older players with an upgrade on skill to compete against the heavier/skilled teams that challenge for a championship every year. In 2009 the Rockets made several significant changes. When you pick up Riley Grantham, Ian Duval and add to your skill level with Mikael Backlund, the chances of winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup increase dramatically.    
  • It was a shame that the Rockets leading scorer wasn't able to contribute in this series. Myles Bell was hurt in game four of the Tri City series in round one, suffering torn ligaments in his knee. Would Bell have made a difference? The Winterhawks would have had to key on him which would have taken the pressure off of others. It would have also helped his team mentally.    
  • With the score 7-2, I was hoping Jordon Cooke wouldn't be pulled in his final game in a Kelowna Rockets uniform. The Winterhawks kept coming in the third period and even threw out their top power play unit when they were up by five. Cooke finished the game despite surrendering seven goals on 41 shots. While game five won't go down as Cooke's finest moment, not many will forget his out of the world performance in game three with a 61 save effort.
  • Nick Merkley and Rourke Chartier didn't find the score sheet in game five, but how consistently good were they in this years playoffs? Those two were the best forwards on a nightly basis. They logged huge minutes.  
  • The WHL has to suspended Winterhawks forward Brendan Leipsic for at least one game. The 19 year-old's spear on Tyrell Goulbourne in the third period was nothing short of cheap. In a 7-2 game, Leipsic has no need to spear Goulbourne unless he is looking for trouble. He obviously was. If he isn't suspended (he is a repeat offender) what type of antics does he pull off if he is losing a game in the WHL final?
  • No egg on the face for the Kelowna Rockets for bowing out in five games. The older players didn't compete to the level they needed to, but the team didn't lose to a lesser opponent. Had they fallen to either Tri City of Seattle in round one or two it would have been a tough pill to swallow. The only tough thing for Coach Huska to stomach was the compete level of some of his players.
  • The Rockets didn't give up 7 goals on home ice until game five of the Western Conference final.
  • Marek Tvrdon's WHL career came to an end Friday night. The 20 year-old had one assist in game five. While collecting 13 points in 14 playoff games, the Slovakian forward has holes in this game. With a low battle level for loose pucks, if that doesn't change in a massive way, Tvrdon will be hard pressed earning a top 6 role in the minor pros.
  • The crowds in this series were solid. All three home games in the Western Conference final were sellouts. Good on you Kelowna. 
  • Good luck to the Portland Winterhawks as they represent the Western Conference in the WHL final. Whether Edmonton or Medicine Hat provides the opposition, the Winterhawks will gives those two all they can handle.

12 comments:

HawkeyDon said...

I'm not excusing Leipsic's "spear" (if that's what you want to call it) it was a stupid move to make. But where is the outrage from you about Gouldbournes run at Lippy and a borderline high hit into the boards with the game at 7-2 and as you say all but out of hand. Tyrell was trying to get into it with Petan, Leipsic all game long....Again I'm not excusing Brendan's stick work, especially at that point of the game but, how about seeing both sides of the game. I'm not sure if you'll see this since I've never responded to you but I have my doubts you'll publish it if you do.

Jared Comeau said...

I agree 100% on your assessment on Marek Tvrdon Regan. I thought the trade was terrible from the outset of it being announced. Trading for him at the deadline and getting rid of Franko has got to leave upper management beating themselves up. How much more significant would have Franko's leadership been than Tvrdon's lack-luster, sluggish and selfish play in this series?

I have to think Franko's voice in the dressing room and on the bench would have been much more useful down the stretch than Tvrdon's broken english, and selfish, sluggish play. He'll be heading back to Europe to play in no time, I don't see him playing much hockey in North America in his career. For me, and perhaps this is a bit harsh, I want to wish Myles Bell, and Jordon Cooke all the luck in the world in their future careers and for Marek Tvrdon, adios.

Unknown said...

Regan, I think you've been sitting too close to Gord. I agree that the spear was uncalled for, stupid, and fairly classless. But to not put some of the onus on Goulbourne for the non-stop cheap shots and stick work after the whistle and behind the play on Lipper, Petan and Dumba to name a few is a little homerish.

That in no way justifies it but to make it sound like the recipient was completely blameless is absurd.

I fully expected this series to go to 6 or 7 games particularly after the 2 in Kelowna. You guys played some good hockey and got allot of help from a stellar 20yr old netminder in Cooke.

Looking forward to seeing you guys again next year with hopefully the same outcome.

Unknown said...

Regan, I think you've been sitting too close to Gord. I agree that the spear was uncalled for, stupid, and fairly classless. But to not put some of the onus on Goulbourne for the non-stop cheap shots and stick work after the whistle and behind the play on Lipper, Petan and Dumba to name a few is a little homerish.

That in no way justifies it but to make it sound like the recipient was completely blameless is absurd.

I fully expected this series to go to 6 or 7 games particularly after the 2 in Kelowna. You guys played some good hockey and got allot of help from a stellar 20yr old netminder in Cooke.

Looking forward to seeing you guys again next year with hopefully the same outcome.

jaz301 said...

Rockets giving up a 3-1 lead with 5min in game 3 was a killer. Had rockets held on that win we might have been talking about Kelowna moving on today.

The fact is like you mentioned the top rocket players were not performing in this series and I find it very disappointing how they didn't play to their best ability when it mattered most.

Had rockets gave a solid effort and lost in 5 would have been easier to swallow. They would have just simply been out beat by a good team. Thing is rockets out did themselves and had it not been for Cooke this series could have been over in 4.

Another big thing was Penalties. Rockets just gave Portland way to many PP chances. Portland was 10/33 on the PP while rockets were 5/22. Rockets could not hold their frustration in and that played a key role into their loss.


Rockets had such an amazing season. 57 wins with some of them in remarkable way. They were the best CHL team for 11 weeks straight. Does all that really matter now with no WHL championship to show for it? I guess we will look back at the season they had, but right now it stings.

Kelly Bonnin said...

Great article Regan, well except the part about Leipsic deserving a suspension. Leading up to the so called spearing was as usual antagonistic pore sportsmanship by Kelowna's player that caused the situation that should have never happen since the game was over. As for the spearing call, by turning and giving a guy a little poke at best should not even have been an issue. Watching it live shows it and again multiple times on video. Hopefully the league keeps their personal feelings aside and makes the right decision.

Kelly Bonnin said...

Strongly disagree about Leipsic penalty, Goulbourne was out of control most of the series, baiting or at least trying to bait Portland players. So when his thuggish act on Leipsic towards the end of the game all that happen was a little poke of the stick. Big Deal! It was definitely not a spear. So hopefully the league will actually open their eyes and watch the tape and see that it wasn't. Of course first they need to find someone neutral and don't tell them it is Portland.

Regan Bartel said...

I appreciate all your views on the spear. You all state your point without using profanity. That I won't publiah.
I saw the video and I don't like it after seeing it a second time. The stick doesn't have to go through Goulbourne's belly to make it vicious. Leipsic's first attempt is towards Goulbourne's crotch. The second attempt, which is successful, is at his stomach.
What I saw obviously doesn't matter. What the league see's is what counts. Thanks for your opinions though.

Peter Maryschuk said...

Too bad the league hadn't dealt with the Petan shot to the head at the end on game one. A consequence there might have limited the cheap shots from both sides. The small Portland forwards are all whiners who use their sticks a lot and seldom drop their gloves. Non of them will be in the NHL soon. AHL at best.

Regan Bartel said...

I will agree with the stick work Pete but Petan is a player. Small but smart. Hard to hit because he is so smart. I also think Pouliot is a beauty. Still rough around the edges but as good a 19 year-old d-man as you will find.

Regan Bartel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Metalgal DS said...

Hi Regan,

Just wanted to send a shout out to thank you for your great announcing on all the games that I have been able to listen to over the past 4 seasons! Although I never missed a Rockets game in Calgary over the past 4 seasons and I managed to make it to Kelowna at least once every season to watch some home games (even some playoff games) - the ones I couldn't get too - I always listened to the games when I could. Honestly, your announcing of the games really made me feel like I was at the game sometimes - so that I have to thank you for! Especially since this was Damon's last season with the Rockets - it meant a lot to me to hear about him and the rest of the team through you. Love hockey - so it was great to listen to the games and staying in touch with Damon's games throughout each season - proud Auntie of #7 Severson and proud fan of the Rockets! Karalee