Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Few show up in OT loss

Courtesy of Victoria Royals
  • The Victoria Royals coaching staff were pleased with the effort in a 4-3 overtime win last night at Memorial Centre. The Rockets coaching staff? Not so much. Alex Blomqvist scored the game winning goal in extra time in the one goal victory, snapping the Rockets 7 game winning streak. Tyson Baillie scored twice while Kris Schmidli added his fourth of the season as the Rockets were held to three goals or less for only the fourth time. The same two teams' meet again tonight in Victoria in the rematch.
  • As poorly at times as the Rockets played, they were 1:57 seconds away from recording their 21st win of the season. The tying goal was pure luck as the puck went off Rockets defenceman Joe Gatenby and swiftly made its way between the legs of goaltender Jackson Whistle. Royals sharp shooter Brandon Magee was credited with the goal, likely his ugliest of the season. I don't know if that took the air out of the Rockets balloon, but they looked flat in overtime. The Royals had the majority of the play inside the offensive zone. While overtime features 4 on 4, it honestly looked like the Rockets were playing a man short. Was it fatigue? Maybe? All I know is the visitors had no killer instinct in overtime and it looked like they wanted the shootout in the worst way.
  • A tough start for the Rockets in this one. At one point the shots were 10-1 Victoria halfway through the first period. Amazingly, the Rockets had a 2-0 lead after back-to-back goals from Tyson Baillie and Kris Schmidli. 
  • Baillie, Schmidli and Jesse Lees were the visitors top three players. Those three accounted for 19 of the Rockets 31 shots on net.  Schmidli had an amazing 8 shots on goal. Lees had 6 and Baillie had 5 shots. Thanks to the interns at Victoria Royals home games, those stats are available. Well done!!
  • I tweeted it last night but it is worth mentioning again on this blog. The Rockets three 20 year-old players registered 0 points in last night's game. The Royals three 20 year-old's combined for 6 points. Brandon Magee had 1+1=2, Austin Carroll had 1+1=2 and Travis Brown had 0+2=2. To be fair, two of the three 20 year-old players on the Rockets roster are 'defensive' players, not goal scorers. But if you are 'defensive', you are still required to make a contribution through playing hard along the wall and winning pucks for your line-mates.
  • Speaking of Brown, he was the most physical player against a much smaller Nick Merkley. It was clearly the game plan to hit Merkley at every turn. The hits on Merkley appear more aggressive than normal though. I may be overly sensitive here, but with my rose coloured Rockets glasses on my face, it appears the Royals are hitting to hurt, rather than simply separating the man from the puck. It is something I will be watching closely tonight to see if the Royals indeed take physical liberties on one of the most skill players in the league. If they indeed do, isn't it funny how the Western Hockey League wants to change the way the game is played by promoting a more skilled game, yet its most skilled players are allowed to be used and abused?
  • While the Royals were keying on Merkley, line-mate Rourke Chartier had a uncharacteristically quiet night. Chartier manufactured just three shots on goal, with none of them overly dangerous. Chartier, who has scored at will this season, didn't have one really good look on net. The 18 year-old appeared sluggish or tired as his 10 game goal scoring streak came to an end.
  • Both goaltenders had interesting night's. Royals d-man Joe Hicketts made a nice save on Tyson Baillie with a wide open net staring the 19 year-old in the face when Victoria goalie Coleman Vollrath over committed by sliding belly first during a goal mouth scramble in the first period. Then in the third, Jackson Whistle got a piece of a shot that then trickled dangerously towards the goal line before being swept away by captain Madison Bowey.
  • Again, as poorly as the Rockets played with 6 regulars out of the line-up, they lost in overtime. Ya, SIX regulars didn't play and the Royals still needed overtime to beat them. Yank six players out of anyone's line up and see what impact that makes. The Rockets have enough top end players to win games like this, but when injuries mount, you need to have more than three players performing at their optimum level.
  • I hate the delay of game penalty when a player shoots the puck over the glass in their own zone. I hate the penalty even more after Royals d-man Travis Brown had the puck go off his shin pad and over the glass. Yes, Brown attempted to kick at the puck while it was in mid air, but he had no intention of sending it into the crowd. Maybe the rule needs to be altered or the referee should have some latitude in making a discretionary call in a situation like that.
  • Attendance. In Victoria on a Tuesday night, only 35 hundred fans took in the game featuring a visiting team with the best record in the WHL. The building was half full. It didn't look like Prince George, but darn close. The Memorial Arena seats just over 7 thousand. It could have been worse. On a Tuesday night against Brandon earlier this season, the best team in the Eastern Conference - Brandon Wheat Kings - drew only 32 hundred fans in Victoria. The theory that better teams' attract larger crowds is such a crock.  
  • Talk to you on the radio at 6:30. Enjoy your day.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I will agree that the Rockets played with 4 regulars out of the line-up (Glover, Kirkland, Wheaton & Yorke), but Dube & Wishnowski have not played enough to be regulars.