- 'What ifs' may best describe the Kelowna Rockets 5-2 home ice loss last night against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. What if Tomas Soustal scores on what looks to be an easy tap-in halfway through the first period when the shots are 11-1 Kelowna? What if Leon Draisaitl's backhand shot in the second period goes in rather than rings off the goal post when the score is 3-1 for the T-Birds? What if Tate Coughlin scores rather than the feed from Joe Gatenby going off his skate and wide of the open net? What if the Rockets don't surrender a soft goal in front of their own net 15 seconds after making it a one goal game on Nick Merkley's 14th of the season? But as the saying goes, if 'ifs' and 'buts' were candy and nuts, wouldn't it be a Merry Christmas? It sounds like cheap excuses, but frankly missed opportunities played a significant factor in the Rockets 8th regulation loss of the season. The T-Birds were badly outplayed in the first period and didn't manufacture a shot until the midway point of the first period. Thanks to goaltender Taran Kozan, who was named the first star, Seattle was clinging to a 2-0 lead.
- The best scoring chance for the Rockets in the first period came from Tomas Soustal on a quick developing two on none. Linemate Gage Quinny intercepted a Shea Theodore pass right in front of the T-Birds net and quickly sent the puck to Soustal, who had to kick it from his skates to his stick, only to see Seattle goaltender Taran Kozun make the save. Had Soustal scored, would the complexion of the game turned in a positive way for the home team? Up until that point, Seattle had no business being in the game. That said, the visitors were opportunistic by scoring two goals in 57 seconds to close out the period up 2-0.
- I don't want to take anything away from the T-Birds though. They played a smart game. They relied on their goaltender to make the original save and played an extremely patient and disciplined game. People like to throw sand in the face of T-Birds defender Evan Wardley for his chippy play, but he was smart and composed and didn't play outside of the rules. I thought his composure had a trickle down affect on his team. Rather than playing dirty, Wardley and his teammates knew that taking bad penaties would be hockey suicide. The Rockets had only two power play chances on the night, one in the first and one in the third period. Fans that watched the game will suggest that the T-Birds should have been penalized more, which may be true, but at the end of the day the officials did not play a factor in the loss. The Seattle Thunderbirds earned it.
- It was a rough night for several players including Rockets goaltender Jackson Whistle. The T-Birds scored two goals on 9 shots in the first period. The veteran allowed three goals on four shots before he was eventually pulled by head coach Dan Lambert after Shea Theodore scored a power play goal early in the third period to make the score 4-1. Michael Herringer faced only four shots in relief but did make a nice shoulder save to give his team a chance at a comeback late in the period.
- It was a rough night for Rockets defenceman Josh Morrissey. At the end of the game the 19 year-old is a -4. Again he is on the ice for a empty net goal, but the 19 year-old can play far better than what he has shown in the first three games. If anyone is feeling a 'world junior hockey hangover', Morrissey may be exhibiting the symptoms the most. Madison Bowey, the Rockets captain, hasn't shown any weakness in his game whatsoever. If anything, Bowey is better upon his return.
- What I think is happening right now is some players are trying to do too much. I have never seen defensive defenceman Cole Martin up in the rush as much as I've witnessed in the last three games. Martin was seen no less than three times deep in the offensive zone. I can't honestly remember a time in the past that he would venture behind the opposition net.
- I liked the Rockets physical play in the second period when two fights erupted in 20 seconds. Riley Stadel fought Keegan Kolesar and then Tyrell Goulbourne had a lopsided tilt with T-Birds Luke Osterman. The rookie must have had no clue who Goulbourne was because picking a fight with the 20 year-old is ill advised unless you are extremely good with your fists. I was surprised to learn afterwards that it was Osterman's 8th fighting major of the season. He has more tilts this season than Goulbourne does. If Osterman's nose isn't broken, he is a lucky man. Rockets 20 year-old Chance Braid was also involved in a third period fight with Jerret Smith. This one too was lopsided with Smith bleeding and heading off the ice surface for repairs.
- Why isn't T-Birds forward Keegan Kolesar playing at the Top Prospects Game? Anyone? Anyone?
- For those that want to jump off a cliff with the Rockets 1 and 2 record since the trade deadline, remember the team was 1 and 4 in its first five games after the trade deadline in 2009.
- For what its worth, the Rockets are now 0-2-1-0 in televised games this season. Last night's tilt was shown to a national audience on Sportsnet. The team also lost to Portland - at home - in November on a Sportsnet game. Sportsnet is covering two more featuring the Rockets on February 20th (in Victoria) and March 20th (in Vancouver). The other loss came on a Shaw game against the Regina Pats.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
What if's in Rockets loss
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