Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fatigue without a doubt a factor

    Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • The Kelowna Rockets coaches never make excuses after a loss. Never have, never will. So with that said, let me do it for them. If the Rockets were going to run out of gas, which they did last night in a 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Portland Winterhawks, it was bound to happen this weekend in an anticipated doubleheader been the two teams'. Unfortunately, it isn't a level playing field when you really look at what has happened over the last week and a half. The Rockets played 5 straight road games over 9 days and traveled a total of 2708 kilometers over that stretch. They traveled back and forth to Spokane, then made the long hike up to Prince George before immediately heading back south to Victoria for back-to-back games against the Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday night. The Rockets didn't travel back from Victoria until Thursday, arriving at Prospera Place at 2 pm that afternoon. Shaking away the cob webs, the players had to quickly prepare for a fired up Winterhawks team that is no weak sister despite what the haters will say. Making things worse is the injuries the Rockets have sustained over the last month. They were able to dress just 16 skaters Friday night, two under the league limit. Without Austin Glover, Dalton Yorke, Mitch Wheaton and Justin Kirkland and a suspension to Rodney Southam, like my hairline, the line up was awfully thin. Add up all those factors against a skilled team like Portland, are we really surprised the Rockets relinquished a 3-0 lead?   
  • For Winterhawks fans that think I am making excuses, remember when the Rockets beat your team 5-0 in the first game of the seasonal series? Were the Winterhawks not in Saskatoon on a Saturday and had bus troubles coming back home for a Friday night home date with the Rockets? The Portland players must have been tired and the 5-0 result was part in parcel of the fatigue the home team must have been feeling. Again, that game is another example of an unlevel playing field.     
  • "We got a point in a game we really had no business, so we can thank Jackson Whistle for that", head coach Dan Lambert told us on the post game show. Without a doubt Whistle was the reason why the game was as close as it was. It could have been a blow out. Whistle faced 52 shots, many of the high quality variety. If Whistle would have been mediocre, the score may have hit double digits.
  • I thought a perfect example of how mentally tired the team looked was on the Winterhawks third goal. Watch it on video on the Rockets website if you don't believe me. Jackson Whistle stops the puck behind the net and promptly slides it, gingerly, towards defenceman Madison Bowey who can't handle it. It is turned over in the corner where Portland overager Myles Koules sends it into the high slot where Winterhawks leading scorer Chase De Leo is at high speed and fires a low shot past a startled Whistle. For me that goal was the back breaker. Bowey, who is world junior potential, is unable to handle a soft pass from Whistle, which showed me and the 55 hundred fans and a national TV audience exactly where the mental fatigue level was of the home team Friday night. 
  • The Rockets may have had a 3-0 lead, but they capitalizing on the few chances they had in the opening period. Portland came out hard, but the home team opened the scoring on its first shot on net. Winterhawks goaltender Brendan Burke was fighting the puck and was quickly replaced by Adin Hill to start the second. Hill had an easy night. Steady when called upon, the Calgary resident made just 14 saves the rest of the way.  
  • Oddly enough, the Rockets had a chance to win the game when the Winterhawks took a delay of game penalty with 2:06 left in the game. My fear, considering how the Rockets were playing and how hungry the Winterhawks looked, was surrendering a shorthanded goal. The best look the Rockets had on the power play was when leading goal getter Rourke Chartier missed the corner of the net on an in-tight chance. 
  • Nic Petan doesn't get a point, but he was one of the best players on the ice. Petan controls the play and often is seen stick handling with the puck like it is on a string. I think he is the best player in the WHL. I really do. 
  • Chase De Leo did so many things right last night. Take away his two goals and watch how hard he works in his own zone. A great skater, De Leo does not give up on plays. He tracked back hard throughout the game and appeared to care as much about his d-coverage as he did about finding good chances to score in the offensive zone. De Leo also received rave reviews for his interviewing skills after the game from the local media. Act like a like a pro. De Leo is that guy.
  • This game was broadcasted on Rogers Sportnet for all to see. Nationally televised, meant the game took a whopping 2 hours and 52 minutes to play. Sportsnet, by all reports, did a terrific job and even brought in the heavy hitters of John Shorthouse and John Garrett to call the game. The Canucks duo did a solid job, which really shouldn't come as a surprise. I was especially impressed with Garrett,  who is as personable as they come. Gord McGarva and I had a nice conversation with him prior to puck drop. 
  • As for Shorthouse, I thought it was admirable of him to inform us that the Winterhawks were making a goaltending change heading into the second period.  He motioned to use of the change while Gord and I were doing the out-of-town scoreboard and were concentrating on other matters. Again, small gesture by Shorthouse but one that was appreciated and shouldn't be overlooked.
  • What happens tonight in the rematch? Rodney Southam is back in the line up after serving a one game suspension so that gives the Rockets another body to work with.  Is Justin Kirkland healthy enough to play tonight after being injured in Prince George? That would give the team 18 skaters. Who starts in goal? Whistle must have lost 10 pounds after his exploits last night. Talk to you on the radio at 6:30. 

1 comment:

PNWHockey said...

Regan, Always a fair accesment of both teams. This is another reason that Winterhawks fans love having the Rockets in P-Town. Nothing like the two best West teams on the ice.

As the horn sounds on the second of the doubleheader this weekend, the Winterhawks pull out two wins and the first regulation loss on home ice for the Rockets. That said, both teams are champions!

Hopefully we will meet in the Playoffs this season for quality hockey.

Thank you,

John Fisher, Corporate Secretary
Portland Winterhawks Boister Club