Thursday, January 29, 2015

Win some, lose some but still pick up a point

Josh Morrissey - Shoot the Breeze Photo 
    Like a Lamborghini with no fuel in the gas tank, the potential is there to go fast but the high performance sports car remains at a standstill. That would best describe the Kelowna Rockets and a dormant power play in a 2-1 shootout loss last night in Edmonton. The Rockets were given eight, count them eight, power play chances but failed to score on even a single one of them in the setback. Of those eight, seven came consecutively but the Rockets couldn't get a puck past Oil Kings first star selection Tristan Jarry. But this wasn't the Tristan Jarry show folks. This falls on the shoulders of the power play's inability to execute when it mattered. In fact, the more power play time the Rockets were given, including a gift when the Oil Kings were called for too many men late in the third period, the more frustration seemed to creep in. The harder each individual tried, the more fractured the power play appeared to look. Just one, one messily power play goal would have earned the team it's 21st road win of the season, but on this night, even a struggling Oil Kings penalty killing unit was good enough to hold the best power play in the 22 team circuit off the score sheet.
    The shootout loss spoiled the return of Leon Draisaitl to Rexall Place. Maybe the distractions for the Edmonton Oilers first round pick were too much? Meeting the Oilers management before game time is one thing, but then essentially getting involved in a media scrum with TV cameras and microphones in his face at 5:20 pm is another. It isn't just a distraction for Draisaitl, but how about his teammates who aren't used to being around this type of media circus? It can be a little unnerving after getting off the bus and trying to prepare for a game with only two hours before puck drop. Draisaitl had some good moments in the first period Wednesday night, but like his teammates, seemed to struggle once the wheels on the power play appeared to wobble.
    If the Rockets were guaranteed to score only one goal, my choice wouldn't have been Joe Gatenby to get it. The defensive defenceman would score his first career regular season goal in his 85th career game. As luck would also have it, the Oil Kings tying goal in the second period came from the exact same spot when Rockets goalie Jake Morrissey was beaten to the short side.
    Speaking of Jake Morrissey, the rookie goaltender deserved a better fate after a solid performance. Despite struggles with rebound control and sometimes making it look like an adventure, the 17 year-old made several good stops in allowing one goal over 65 minutes. What more can you ask for from a back up goaltender who is given a rare start? Morrissey was named the games third star. Morrissey hasn't been give a lot of run support with in his last two outings after winning 2-1 in a shootout in Kamloops.
    I thought it was Chance Braid's best game in a Rockets uniform. The 20 year-old had three to four good scoring chances. Head Coach Dan Lambert must have agreed, promoting Braid to a line with Leon Draisaitl and Rodney Southam. Braid's skill level is a hidden gem. Everybody thinks he can pump opponents, which he can, but he possesses a higher hockey IQ and softer hands than you would think. In my opinion, Braid is the best chip and chase forward the Rockets now have on their roster.
    Despite the outcome, it must have been a special night for the Morrissey brothers. Jake was in net while older brother Josh was on the Rockets d-core. It marked the first time the two have ever played a game together. It marked only the third time in Kelowna Rockets franchise history that brothers have played with one another. Gavin and Kiel McLeod and Lucas and Evan Bloodoff are now joined by the Morrissey boys.
    Several brothers have played on the Kelowna Rockets but at different times. Jesse and Simon Ferguson and Ryan and Craig Cuthbert are just two examples.
    For a second consecutive game, Josh Morrissey hit a goal post only to see it stay out of the net. Puck luck is a little hard to come by for the 19 year-old d-man. That post was struck when the Rockets were enjoying a 5 on 3 for 35 seconds early in the third period.
    The loss in a shootout was the first in four attempts this season for the WHL leaders. Up until last night the Rockets were one of only two teams in the WHL without a shootout loss. Now the PA Raiders stand alone.
    While it is easy to be negative after a shootout loss, it was still a point in the standings and a three point lead on Brandon for first place overall. Remember too, the Wheat Kings lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Swift Current Broncos - at home - on Tuesday night. Hey, $&$# happens!!

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