Sunday, October 26, 2014

Whistle while you work

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Jackson Whistle take a bow. In his finest hour as a Kelowna Rockets starting goaltender, the 19 year-old almost single-handedly helped his team to a 6-1 win Saturday night over the Brandon Wheat Kings. Whistle had to come up large in the first 58 seconds of the game when Wheat Kings forward Jesse Gabrielle was awarded a penalty shot. Whistle made massive saves all night long including a point blank chance against Tim McGauley in the second period. When Whistle didn't stop the puck, it rang off the goal post or cross bar no less than four times. Without Whistle's heroics, specifically early in the game, the visitors could have easily have walked away with a 6-1 win. Instead it was the home team that won for the 6th consecutive time on home ice and handed the Wheat Kings only their third loss of the season. Don't let the final score fool you. This was a tight game.
  • Brandon's high octane offense was fun to watch. Scary fun in fact. The Wheat Kings opening power play in the first period made the Rockets look silly. Wheat Kings leading scorer Rihards Bukarts had two tremendous scoring chances on similar setups but was unable to find the back of the net. Out-shot 11-5 in the opening period, the home team was fortunate to be headed to the dressing room in a scoreless tie. The Rockets players knew it too by patting Whistle on the head at periods end. They did it again after the second period and again at games end. 
  • What a great response from the 58 hundred fans when they gave Jackson Whistle a standing ovation after making several solid stops during a massive flurry to end the second period. The buzzer sounded and the fans rose to their feet and sent vocal love towards the sweaty goaltender. That is what home ice advantage is all about. 
  • As good as the Wheat Kings were early, you could see the Rockets finding their game late in the second period and obviously in a four goal third period. My belief is the speed/tempo of the game is something the Rockets haven't seen since last years Western Conference final against the Portland Winterhawks. Moving the puck quickly and making good decisions with it are pivotal against teams like Brandon, who thrive on capitalizing on the other teams turnovers. Once they reached the same tempo as the Wheat King, the Rockets found more time in the offensive zone and forced them to play defense.
  • Nick Merkley's shorthanded goal was unbelievable. The 17 year-old worked away from a Wheat Kings defenceman and at the last second poked the puck past Brandon goaltender Jordan Papirny who was moving to his right. Merkley's goal made the score 3-1. If the Wheat Kings score its a 2-2 game. 
  • Merkley ended the night with a goal and three assists. For my money he was the best Rockets forward on the ice.     
  • Madison Bowey scored twice in the win. Both of those goals came on the power play with solid slap shots from the blue line with good traffic in front of Wheat Kings goaltender Jordan Papirny. I am not sure if the 19 year-old has the hardest shot in the league, but it has to be close. One thing I do know, it sure is accurate. 
  • Cole Martin scored a power play goal. It was a clear sign that things were going right for the Rockets. Martin has never scored a power play goal in his career. Martin reached his career high of two goals set back in the 2012-2013 season. 
  • The Wheat Kings are going to win a lot of games this season. They are scary good. With lots of depth and good goaltending, I can't see why a 50 win season is out of the question. They are the best Eastern Division representative I've seen in years. The East Division has had some good teams but no where near this top end. The power, typically in the Conference, has been held by Edmonton and Calgary for what feels like years.
  • Brandon GM/Head Coach Kelly McCrimmon wouldn't have liked the result but surely can't feel bad about the effort of his team. Clearly they didn't receive one favorable bounce in the game. They had to earn everything they got. They ran into a hot goaltender too. It happens over the course of a 72 game schedule. The Rockets will feel the wrath too. No one is exempt.
  • I thought it was awfully classy of Kelly McCrimmon to stop by our broadcast booth after the game and shake hands with myself and colour commentator Gord McGarva. It is a shame we don't see the Wheat Kings but more than once a season. I sure wouldn't mind making a trip out East to Brandon in late April, but as a wise man once said, much can happen between now and then.

1 comment:

jaz301 said...

With two of the best teams in a league we knew it should be a good game and boy was it good. Thank goodness Whistle had the best game of his career last night. Game could of easily been 6-1 Brandon.
If Whistle keeps playing like he did last night scouts will be watching him much more closely (if they haven't already).

The rockets have had an impressive start to the season. You have to wonder though between the last few seasons rockets have not really had a slump. Are they do for one soon or they just too good of a team for that to happen.