Sunday, March 8, 2015

50 shades of white, teal, red, black and copper

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • You have heard of 50 Shades of Grey, but how about 50 Shades of White, Teal, Red, Black and Copper? The Kelowna Rockets earned their 50th win of the season Saturday night with a 5-2 home ice victory over the Spokane Chiefs. It was a sexy win in it's own right, sending the Rockets into the Canadian Hockey League and Western Hockey League record books with their third straight 50 win season. The Rockets are only the fourth team in CHL history to accomplish the feat and only the third WHL team to hit that impressive bench mark. The Rockets join the Kamloops Blazers, Edmonton Oil Kings and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Saint Johns Ice Dogs as the only organizations to win 50 or more games in three consecutive seasons. The Rockets had 57 wins last season and 52 the year prior. The Rockets are 159-38-7-6 in the last three seasons. 
  • Chance Braid was named the games first star Saturday night with a goal and an assist. The 20 year-old had the privileged of playing alongside Leon Draisaitl and Rodney Southam. Braid scored a second period goal, similar to the one he netted February 25th when he scored at the tip of the crease by going five-hole on the goaltender. Braid now has multiple points in three of his last nine games.
  • Leon Draisaitl had two assists extending his point streak to 11 games. The 19 year-old was named the games third star, but again was a massive factor in the game. It makes you wonder where the team would be right now without him? With injuries to Josh Morrissey, Justin Kirkland and Rourke Chartier and the recent struggles of Nick Merkley, would the Rockets still me in first place without him?  
  • Speaking of Merkley, he looked like the Nick Merkley of old Saturday night. The 17 year-old had a goal and an assist and his hustle to retrieve loose pucks was the best of any Rockets forward. Merkley's assist was the 100th of his career. The third period goal he scored, which was actually an attempted pass, was his first in 11 games.
  • A solid starting assignment by Spokane rookie goaltender Tyson Verhelst. The 17 year-old made several solid stops in this one, including two against Draisaitl and one against Riley Stadel in the third period. The Brandon, Manitoba resident gave his team a chance to win.
  • A classy move by Kelowna Rockets fans when they applauding Chiefs forward Liam Stewart as he hobbled off the ice towards the dressing room after attempting to block a shot and taking a Madison Bowey blast off his inner knee. What does that say about the 20 year-old, who is attempting to block a shot when his team is down 5-2 late in the game? That's a gutsy move by a player who managed only 43 regular season games last season after suffering a significant injury January 29th, oddly enough in Kelowna, that kept him out of action for close to six weeks. 
  • Head Coach Don Nachbaur deserves all the credit in the world for the Chiefs record this season. What Nachbaur has done with his team is impressive. This is not a high end squad when it comes to talent, yet the veteran coach squeezes out every ounce of try from his players which translates into overachieving success.
  • How good is Chiefs rookie Kailer Yamamoto? The 16 year-old impresses me more than Vancouver Giants Tyler Benson. Yamamoto's compete level is excellent. Is he not the next coming of Tyler Johnson?
  • No matter what happens with this years edition of the Spokane Chiefs, remember they have Saskatoon's first round pick in this years WHL bantam draft. What does that mean? Spokane will likely get the first pick overall with the Blades on a collision course of finishing dead last this season. You can thank GM Tim Speltz for trading Collin Valcourt to the Blades for a Saskatoon's 1st round pick in 2015 after a head shaking deal was made between the two team's at the trade deadline in January of 2013. Speltz receives a high five from me for pulling off that doozy.        
  • The Rockets are back on home ice Wednesday against the Victoria Royals. 

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