Sunday, March 29, 2015

Whistle matches Comrie in a game two win

Jackson Whistle has been a brick wall - Shoot the Breeze Photo 

  • Move over Eric Comrie, the guy 180 feet from your crease is no shrinking violet either. As good as the Tri City Americans goaltender has been in the first two games of an opening round playoff series against the Kelowna Rockets, Jackson Whistle has been no slouch at the other end of the ice. While the 19 year-old West Kelowna resident has no where near the same resume as Comrie, the undrafted goaltender has been equally as good in the first two games of this Western Conference quarter final series. Whistle made 30 saves Saturday night in the Rockets 3-0 home ice win, helping his team to a two-nothing lead in this best of seven playoff series. Whistle was the better of the two goaltenders over the final 40 minutes of play, making his best stop on Americans forward Vladislav Lukin on a breakway in the second period. Lukin received a pass at the Rockets blue line and skated behind the defense only to see his shot, between the legs of Whistle, denied by the veteran goaltender. Whistle seemed to struggle early in the game when his team out-shot the Americans 20-6 in the first period, but he made timely saves when it really counted. Surprisingly, in the building he was not named the first star but was clearly in the best player on the ice through the final 40 minutes of the hockey game.
  • Eric Comrie was without question the story in the first period. The Tri City Americans goaltender was peppered with 20 shots and allowed only one goal. For a second consecutive game the Rockets could have been up 4-0 without Comrie's exploits. The only puck that found the back of the net was a Rodney Southam one timer that beat the Winnipeg Jets prospect high to the blocker side. Comrie made several solid stops in the first period including a nice left pad save on rookie Cole Lind and a left toe save on Gage Quinney in an opening 20 minutes that was heavily tilted in the Rockets favour.
  • This game was in doubt until Leon Draisaitl fired a wrist shot home with less than five minutes left in the third period.  Draisaitl finished the game with a goal and an assist but for the most part was quiet in the second game of the series. The Edmonton Oilers first round pick fired a nice shot through a screen on a one-on-one situation with Americans defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon which essentially put the game away. The 19 year-old would set up Tyson Baillie for an empty netter with 84 seconds left in the hockey game.
  • The Americans had more glorious chances to score in this game in the final 40 minutes than they did in a 6-0 loss in game one. The best scoring chance happened on a two on none when Americans forward Justin Gutierrez received a pass at the Rockets blue line and was sent in on what appeared to be a breakaway. The 19 year-old forward must have been on a long shift because he uncharacteristically lumbered into the zone with the puck where a teammate, Beau McCue, joined him on the glorious scoring chance. Gutierrez elected to pass it off to McCue who returned the favour. The end result? A shot taken by Gutierrez that missed the net on a glorious scoring chance for the visitors. 
  • Jackson Whistle has now gone 120 playoff minutes without allowing a goal. This has never happened in Kelowna Rockets franchise history that a goalie has earned back-to-back playoff shutouts. Kelly Guard is the franchise leader in playoff shutouts with five. Whistle has two in two games.
  • A fight in the playoffs? Yep, it happened when Americans forward Maxwell James  was slashed in the neutral zone by Rockets 21 year-old Tyrell Goulbourne. James immediately threw his gloves down and started throwing punches at the unsuspecting Rockets forward. The Americans were accessed an extra two minutes for instigating but were able to kill off the penalty. The Rockets are now 0 for 7 on the power play in the first two games of the series.
  • The Rockets have now out-shot the Americans 31-11 in the first period. 
  • Former Kelowna Rockets forward Kris Schmidli attended the game. Schmidli was involved in the Leon Draisaitl trade. The PA Raiders also received 18 year-old Dalton Yorke and a first round bantam pick.
  • Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney attended the game.
  • Game three and four in the series are back in Tri City Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. 

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