Saturday, March 28, 2015

Energy on the ice and in the building

Shoot the Breeze Photography

  • Head Coach Dan Lambert didn't want his team to play cute hockey. The players on the Kelowna Rockets roster delivered in an impressive 6-0 win last night in game one of a best of seven Western Conference quarter final series against the Tri City Americans. Not one goal will make the TSN honour role, but who cares! Outside of a three minute span of the second period, the Rockets were clearly the better team. They were first on pucks, finished hits and came in waves. Had it not been for Americans goaltender Eric Comrie's heroics in the first period, what would the score have been? Of the ten shots the Rockets had in the opening 20 minutes, were six of those quality chances? It was a terrific opening 20 minutes.
  • While Comrie will get much credit for keeping it close after one period, how about Jackson Whistle's save early in the second period with his team playing with a 1-0 lead? Whistle made a solid stop on Jordan Topping on a two-on-one in the visitors first solid offensive push of the game.
  • Tyson Baillie took a penalty eight minutes into the second period but Nick Merkley's shorthanded goal essentially turned the game back in the Rockets favour. Merkley's goal was one of two shorthanded goals the Rockets would score with Chartier's second of the game in the third period coming with Tyrell Goulbourne in the box for hooking.
  • Whistle earned the shutout in his first career playoff start. It marked the first time a Rockets goalie has earned a playoff shutout since Jordon Cooke made 25 saves in a 4-0 win in game four of a first round playoff series in 2013 against the Seattle Thunderbirds. It was the first home playoff shutout since Mark Guggenberger made 21 saves in the WHL final against the Calgary Hitmen in 2009.  
  • The best goal of the game may have been from Dillon Dube. It had nothing to do with how the puck was fired past Comrie, but more so how it was created. The Rockets hemmed the Americans inside their own zone for a significant amount of time. A gassed Justin Hamonic turned over a puck at the side of the net and the relentless forecheck made the Americans pay. 
  • Rourke Chartier and Nick Merkley each had three point games, but anyone wearing a white, red, teal and black uniform had a solid game. Riley Stadel impressed me, as did rookie Cole Lind. Chance Braid took body. Tyrell Goulbourne had good energy. Again, it was hard to pick apart the home teams game.  
  • Few will agree with me, but I thought the officiating was terrific. They allowed the two teams to play! Knit picky calls could have been made but the two referee's called it both ways. I hate an overly officiated game. I actually detest it. I hate where one official blatantly makes calls against the team that is leading in order to keep a game close. I know they don't purposely try to do it, but sometimes it looks/feels that way. I give the tip of the hat to Ryan Benbow and Adam Griffiths. I thought both guys were consistent. Maybe its easy for me to say in a 6-0 game?
  • Leon Draisaitl, Gage Quinney and Chance Braid all won their very first WHL playoff games Friday night. All three were swept in back to back seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders.
  • Rookies Lucas Johansen and Tomas Soustal made their playoff debuts against the Americans. Johansen had his first playoff assist on Leon Draisaitl's second period goal while 16 year-old Cole Lind also earned his first playoff point on Madison Bowey's third period goal.
  • Dillon Dube scored his first career playoff goal in the 6-0 win. Dube played one post season game as a 15 year-old with the Rockets in last seasons Western Conference final. 
  • I thought the atmosphere in the building was excellent. Noise makers were distributed before the game and it made a significant impact. I thought the building was loud and alive. The music, for whatever reason on this night was excellent. It wasn't overbearing and the song selection was a home run. 

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