- Dan Lambert didn't want to make it, but went with his gut in pulling rookie goaltender Jake Morrissey. The 17 year-old Calgary resident, making his first career WHL start Saturday night in Seattle, allowed two goals on five shots in the first 2:40 of the game. Lambert elected to pull Morrissey, who looked extremely shaky on the second goal specifically, and the move turned out to be the right decision. With Jackson Whistle in goal, the team scored just 33 seconds later and went on to a gutsy 6-4 win over the Thunderbirds.
- Lambert's decision to make a goalie change had to be a difficult one. Whistle needed a rest and this was an opportune time for Morrissey to get his feet wet. The rookies confidence also won't be at an optimum level after the short stint in goal. Could Morrissey have worked out the kinks despite the rough start? Possibly, but in my opinion the game was still in reach at 2-0 and the move was the right one by the rookie head coach.
- Why was it a gutsy win? The team was playing without four regular defenceman. Cole Martin was attending a funeral while Jesse Lees, Joe Gatenby and Mitch Wheaton are all sidelined with injuries. That forced forward Colton Heffley to play on the blue line and allowed rookies Devante Stephens and Lucas Johansen to eat up significant minutes that they just wouldn't see this early in their careers.
- The entire team has to be credited for the commitment they paid to their own zone. Despite being short staffed by dressing 16 skaters, the Rockets surrendered only 15 shots through two periods and only 22 overall.
- Nick Merkley earned four assists while linemate Rourke Chartier scored his first career hattrick. Merkley now has 14 points in six games. After six games last season, Merkley had 5+3=8. Merkley's four assists isn't anything new though. Back on October 10th of last season he had 4 assists in a home ice win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
- Devante Stephens earned his first career WHL point with an assist on the game winning goal from Rourke Chartier with under 4 minutes to play in the third period.
- Riley Stadel continues his strong play. The 18 year-old scored a third period goal to tie the game at 4. Stadel now has a point in every game he has played this season. That is a 6 game point streak, which is the longest of his career.
- Tyson Baillie ran his goal scoring streak to six games with an empty netter.
- Mathew Barzal had a solid game for the T-Birds. The second year forward is clearly a dominant player and will be a 1st round draft pick in next summers draft. Barzal stood out every time he had the puck. If I compare him to Nikita Sherbak, who we saw the night prior in Everett, Barzal is a more complete player. Barzal may not possess the same shot as Sherbak, but his play making abilities are superior. Barzal also has more 'try' in his game.
- Who is better, Barzal or Merkley? This was the first meeting between the two highly coveted draft eligible players this season. Both like to handle the puck and make smart decisions with it. I think Barzal may be a slightly better skater but Merkley has a little more determination in his game. The nice thing is we can watch these two play against one another three more times this season.
- The Rockets remain undefeated with 6 wins and no losses. That is a franchise record. Up next is a home date with the Swift Current Broncos Tuesday night.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
A hard decision proves to be the right one
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