Monday, March 23, 2015

Rockets/Americans collide again in round one

Eric Comrie - Shoot the Breeze Photo

  • Who will stand out from the rest when the WHL playoffs open Friday night for the Kelowna Rockets? Put your money on Tyson Baillie. This is typically his time of the year. The harder the game becomes the more the 19 year-old elevates his play. The four year veteran has 27 playoff games under his belt and typically at this time of the year shows up on the score-sheet more times than not. Baillie has 13+16=29 in those 27 career playoff games. Proof enough for ya? In 14 playoff games last year, the undrafted forward, had 5+8=13 in 14 post season games. Looking for a game winning goal in overtime? It's typically 'Tyson Time'. 
  • I expect Cole Linker to make an impact in this years playoffs. Maybe not on the score-sheet, but he has a warrior mentality and will sacrifice for the betterment of the team. The 19 year-old had only 4+3=7 in 14 playoff games last season but may see some power play time in the playoffs this go-around after getting basically zero last season. Again, Linaker had seven power play goals this season. Last year, used primarily shorthanded, had none.   
  • Tyrell Goulbourne is a five year veteran so his resume allows him to boast the greatest number of games played of any Rockets player in the post season. The 21 year-old has 35 games under his belt. Madison Bowey has 30 games of experience in the 'real season' and has impressive point totals with 5+9=14 in 14 playoff games in last years run towards the Western Conference final. 
  • Nick Merkley may be only a second year player, but the 17 year-old has 4+16=20 in 21 career playoff games. As a raw 16 year-old last season, Merkley had 4+13=17 in 14 post season games. Merkley also played seven playoff games as a 15 year-old.
  • The Rockets met the Americans last year in the opening round. The series went five games. The majority of the games were close, with Eric Comrie making sure of that.
  • What will attendance be like when the playoff puck drops Friday at Prospera Place? In game one of last years opening round series with Tri City, 58 hundred fans showed up, but the first two games were part of the regular season package. In game five back in Kelowna in round one, just 4,875 fans showed up. In Tri City is was significantly worse. Just 2,010 showed up to see Eric Comrie (pictured right) make 52 saves in a game three-4-3 win.
  • The sellouts in the playoffs last year didn't come until the third round in the Western Conference final against Portland. Game one drew 6,218 with game two getting 6,341. Game five was solid with 6,331 patrons.    
  • It will be interesting to see what Justin Kirkland brings to the table when he is healthy. Many people forget that he had 5+5=10 in last years playoffs as a rookie and scored a goal in all three series including two against Portland in the WCF.
  • While Jackson Whistle is a first year starter, he has played one playoff game. In the 2013 post season, in game three in Kamloops, Jordon Cooke started but was pulled after giving up three goals on 11 shots. Whistle, in a relief appearance, came into the game but the Blazers won 5-4 in overtime.
  • The Rockets were good on home ice last year in the playoffs winning 6 of 8 games. On the road was a different story. After winning a season high 29 times on opposition ice in 2013-2014, they had a 3-3 road record in post season.
  • Who was the Kelowna Rockets leading point producer in last years playoffs? Damon Severson had 4+14=18 in 14 games. Nick Merkley was next with 17 points.       
  • Why didn't the Rockets make more of series with Portland last season? Goal scoring among the 20 year-old's was non-existent. Ryan Olsen and Marek Tvrdon had 1 goal between them. Myles Bell was hurt in game four of an opening round series against the Americans. 
  • The Rockets are meeting the Americans in the playoffs for the third time in the last six seasons. They are meeting in 2015, they met in 2014 and were involved in a five game series in 2010 in which the Americans advanced to the third round in five games. Dan Lambert was a first year assistant coach with the Rockets that season.
  • In the 2013 playoffs, seven of the Rockets 11 playoff games were decided in overtime. Last year they played in one overtime game, losing game three of the WCF in Portland.
  • How much is Rodney Southam looking forward to this playoff series? Southam was traded by the Americans to the Rockets on November 4th. The Rockets surrendered a 5th round bantam pick this summer for Southam's services.

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