Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rough and tumble affair earns Rockets another 'W'

A BC Division battle - literally!  (Shoot the Breeze Photography)
  • The Kelowna Rockets may have won more than just a hockey game last night. The Rockets earned a  5-1 win over the visiting Victoria Royals but may have galvanized even more as a team after the physical affair. The Royals began to take liberties as the score became lopsided, but instead of wilting like a flower, the Rockets stood up and showed that they won't be pushed around. Defenceman Riley Stadel found himself on the winning end of a lopsided scrap with Royals forward Regan Nagy with under two minutes left in the game. Then moments later, towering Royals defenceman Keegan Kanzig hit Cole Linaker from behind which resulted in teammate Tyrell Goulbourne going after the 6'6, 240 pound blue liner. While Goulbourne was trying to get at Kanzig, newcomer Rodney Southam was involved in a tilt with Ryan Gagnon, knocking the Victoria defenceman to the ice with two hard rights. It was the most physical game the Rockets have been involved in this season and the team didn't cower when things got rough.  
  • I thought the game got out of control after Royals forward Brandon Magee slashed Rockets leading scorer Nick Merkley in the hand early in the third period. No penalty was called on the play. From there it was open season. If you look at the entire game, the Royals took physical liberties on Merkley every chance they had. It was obviously the game plan. Royals d-man Keegan Kanzig was sent to the penalty box 8 minutes into the third period after punching Merkley in the face with his glove. Stick work was a constant on Merkley throughout the game. The 17 year-old didn't shy away with a goal and two assists.   
  • Jackson Whistle again had a strong game in goal.  The 19 year-old was especially sharp early in the game when the Royals had several quality chances to score. Maybe that is where the frustration came in for the visitors? It seemed like it took a lot of work for the Royals to score and little for the Rockets to find the back of the net. While the two teams combined for 29 shots in the opening period, it was the Rockets that had a 3-0 lead.
  • Newcomer Rodney Southam had a solid debut. While he found himself in a fight, which may get him suspended because it was the second fight after the Kanzig/Goulbourne encounter, Southam played well on a line with Colton Heffley and Kris Schmidli. Also, you have to remember Southam hasn't played in a couple of games after being a healthy scratch in Tri City.  Speaking of Goulbourne, he too could be suspended for his actions after Linaker was taken to the ice on the Kanzig hit.        
  • It was a match up featuring the top two scoring defenceman in the WHL Wednesday night and it would be safe to say who the clear winner ended up being. Madison Bowey had a goal and an assist while Royals rearguard Joe Hicketts had one assist and was a -2.
  • Royals leading scorer Austin Carroll didn't find the back of the net, but not for a lack of trying. Carroll is a good player and used his size to his advantage. The Calgary Flames draft pick had ample chances to score but Whistle had his number. When frustration set in, Carroll was an angry cuss, using his stick and playing a mean game to get the point across that he wasn't happy.  
  • I thought the d-pairing of Cole Martin and Joe Gatenby were lights out good. Martin made a tremendous diving play to break up a two-on-one scoring chance in the first period and was a pain to play against throughout the rough and tumble affair. The 20 year-old was as affective as I have ever seen him. Martin and Gatenby did a great job against the Royals top line of Magee, Carroll and Axel Blomquist. 
  • The Rockets couldn't stop the Royals run of seven consecutive games with at least one power play goal. Magee's third period marker came with the extra man. The Rockets struck twice on five chances.
  • Dalton Yorke left the game after being hit in the second period. The sophomore defenceman never returned.  
  • The Rockets are 7-0-0-0 on home ice heading into Friday's home game against the Spokane Chiefs. 

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