Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pre-season starts with a shutout

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • It was only a pre-season game, but for veteran Jackson Whistle that didn't matter. The 19 year-old made 24 saves in a 5-0 shutout win Saturday night over the visiting Kamloops Blazers. Whistle, like any first year starter, will have pressure on his shoulders as he proves to those that doubt him that he can take over from Jordon Cooke and be more than an adequate replacement. In this game, Whistle went the distance with 16 year-old Jake Morrissey as his back up.
  • It is now a three horse race in the Kelowna Rockets crease. Whistle is the guaranteed starter but it is a battle between Christopher Tia and Morrissey for the back up spot. While Morrissey was Whistle's back up last night, don't count out Tia. The 19 year-old has had a solid camp and the Delta BC product will get every opportunity to make the team. Whistle will be heading to the Young-Stars tournament in Penticton which means management will get an even better look at who is better, Tai or Morrissey. 
  • In Saturday's win, three of the five goals were scored by defenceman. It was nice to see Dalton Yorke and Joe Gatenby find the back of the net. The two combined for 0 goals in 83 regular season games last season. Yorke was the most physical defenceman for the home team. It will be interesting to see where he is penciled in the depth chart this season. Is he a top six defenceman or does he see sporadic duty?
  • Lucas Johansen. The 16 year-old (turns 17 in November) d-man is the real deal. Johansen is calm with the puck and I like his decision making. Johansen also has the ability to make nice passes. Nothing is guaranteed, but from what I saw from him in his first ever game wearing a Rockets uniform, I think he deserves to make the team. Again, my opinion doesn't count. Be thankful it doesn't.
  • The Rockets dressed two 20 year-old's last night. Those two were Carter Rigby and Colton Heffley. Tyrell Goulbourne and Cole Martin sat in the stands. In my opinion it is a two horse race for the one overage spot and Rigby and Heffley are the two fighting for it. Rigby didn't receive a shift in the third period when the score got out of hand at 5-0.
  • I thought 1997 born d-man Devante Stephens had a solid outing. Jordan Borstmayer scored a goal and played well for a raw rookie. 
  • The best Blazer? I thought goaltender Cole Kehler did a great job in a relief appearance of starter Connor Ingram. The best forward for Kamloops may have been Jermaine Loewen.  Loewen has good size (6'3 and 201) and was robbed by Whistle in the third period. I also liked Blazers forward Spencer Bast. Bast is a smooth skater. 
  • To be fair, the Blazers - as a group - looked tired after playing the night before. They were badly outplayed in the second period when they were out-shot 18-3.    
  • It was nice to see Austin Glover and Kris Schmidli see the score sheet. Both picked up two assists. Now 18, these two in particular need to contribute more this season.
  •  The Rockets face the Giants tonight in the second of six games during the pre-season. It will likely mark the debut of Euro Tomas Soustal.

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