Saturday, February 14, 2015

Same old song and dance in Rockets/Royals rivalry

Shoot the Breeze Photography - Michael Herringer 

  • Austin Carroll and the Victoria Royals were up to their old tricks Friday night at Prospera Place. Staring another loss in the face with the Kelowna Rockets, the top scorer for the Royals elected to take his frustration out on rookie defenceman Lucas Johansen. With time winding down, Carroll took a run at Johansen who narrowly escaped a forearm to the head from the 6 foot 3 forward. Seeing this act before, Rockets forward Rodney Southam took matters into his own hands by dropping his gloves with the Calgary Flames draft pick in an effort to send a message that the attempted check was cheap and frankly dirty. It was eerily reminiscent of a similar altercation back on November 19th, in Victoria, in a Rockets 5-3 road win. In that game with the buzzer about to sound, Royals forward Brandon Magee used his stick to jam it into Cole Linaker's private parts on a face-off inside the Kelowna zone. An altercation would ensue with two fight's breaking out including the aforementioned Carroll dropping the gloves against Southam. Magee, on that fateful night, was given a five game suspension for his spear on Linaker. Last night's incident had Rockets head coach Dan Lambert and assistant Kris Mallette exchanging words with Victoria head coach Dave Lowry. It was just another chapter in a heated battle between two BC Division teams that will meet for a pair of games next weekend in Victoria.        
  • I do applaud Rodney Southam for two things. Number one was the way he stepped up for a teammate after Carroll's attempted high hit missed the mark. Southam didn't hesitate to exchange blows with the much larger Carroll. I also liked the fact that Southam didn't jump Carroll and sucker punch him. Instead Southam grabbed the 30 goal scorer and met him face-to-face rather than taking the cowardly way out. Southam will likely get suspended, but his actions were well worth it.
  • There were so many good things to like in the 7-3 win. Two things stood out. The 'Kiss Principle' was applied and the attention to detail defensively was impressive. Keep It Simple Stupid was how the majority of the Rockets goals were scored. They didn't over complicate things by getting overly pass happy in an effort to score jaw dropping goals. Going hard to the net and getting tip-in goals were the order of the day. Just ask Cole Linaker, who scored twice, including one that went off the shaft of his stick on the power play. Simplicity allowed the team to extend its home ice winning streak to five games.
  • While Linaker had his first-two goal game of his career, the same could also be said for defensive defenceman Cole Martin. Martin had two goals to go along with a +4 rating in the game. Now a +44 on the season, Martin was named the third star. 
  • Leon Draisaitl was named the first star with three assists. The 19 year-old saw little ice time after assisting on the team's 6th goal to make the score 6-2. After that goal, the Edmonton Oilers first round pick hardly saw the ice. My gut feeling is the coaching staff kept him on the bench for the remainder of the game for the fear of injury. With the game out of reach, would the Royals take liberties on the Rockets top players? 
  • A scary moment in the second period when leading goal scorer Rourke Chartier was hit by a hard slap shot from the blue line by teammate Madison Bowey. Chartier, standing in front of the Royals net, took the shot in the right leg and immediately fell to the ice in pain. The 19 year-old literally crawled off the ice with the use of his left leg. It looked awful. Miraculously, the San Jose Sharks draft pick emerged unscathed moments later and played the remainder of the game. I can't image how big the welt was on his leg once he took off his gear.
  • Michael Herringer earned back-to-back starts for the first time this season and recorded the win with a 22 save effort. The 19 year-old was particularly good in the first and second periods making nice saves against Royals forward Greg Chase. Herringer also had help from the goal post - not once but twice. 
  • I thought the most dangerous Royals forward was Greg Chase. That is an excellent pick up from the Calgary Hitmen. Chase created good scoring chances and didn't disappoint in my first look at him this season. I thought along with Tyler Soy, those two had the best games among the Royals forwards.
  • The biggest surprise for me was the play of Royals defenceman Chaz Reddekopp. I thought he played a simple, physical game back on the Victoria blue line. Reddekopp was disciplined and smart. I don't know if he plays that way all the time, but it made me say, Keegan Kanzig who?  
  • Again another solid game from Rockets d-man Josh Morrissey. While Madison Bowey earned three assists, I thought Morrissey was rock solid on the blue line. While picking up a lone assist, his smart play by not forcing pucks to teammates that were covered stood out. I think Morrissey is getting better with each game he wears Rockets colours. The 19 year-old makes it look so simple. 
  • Another good game for Devante Stephens. Paired with captain Madison Bowey, Stephens again made intelligent plays with the puck and his skating and battle level earns him high marks from the scouts that watch him. Now if he could only find a proper stick which would allow him to shoot the puck with authority.        
  • The Rockets played this game without Tyson Baillie and Jackson Whistle. While Baillie could return as early as tonight against visiting Moose Jaw, Whistle could still be a week or two away. My thinking is the time away for Whistle may be a blessing in disguise. How well rested will he be when he is healthy enough to return for the final few weeks of the season? Let's face it, the 19 year-old will be logging all of the ice time in the crease when the playoffs start.      

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