Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets have a 2-0 lead on the Victoria Royals heading into game three of their best of seven Western Conference semifinal series tonight at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Tyson Baillie scored the game winning goal early in the second period in a game one 5-0 win. Baillie was named the first star with a goal and an assist. Cole Martin, Gage Quinney, Rourke Chartier and Tomas Soustal also scored. Josh Morrissey, who hadn’t played since February 28th, returned to the lineup and had three assists. Leon Draisaitl had a pair of helpers in the lopsided win. Jackson Whistle made 20 saves for his third consecutive shutout on home ice in this year’s playoffs. The Rockets were 2 for 5 on the power play while killing off four Victoria advantages. In game two Saturday night, the Rockets squeezed out a 4-3 win in overtime. Again, Tyson Baillie scored the game winner 58 seconds into the extra session. Gage Quinney, Tomas Soustal and Baillie, who opened the scoring in the first period, found the back of the net. Jackson Whistle was outstanding making 38 saves. The Rockets were 2 for 8 on the power play. Game four in the series is tomorrow night with a fifth game (if necessary) Friday at Prospera Place in Kelowna. This is the eighth consecutive appearance in the post season for the Rockets and 19th time in the franchises 20 year history. Since the Christmas break the Rockets are 31-8-2-1 (including playoffs). Overall, the team has won 8 straight games (6 playoffs and last two regular season games).
Scoring in this series:
Period 1 2 3 OT Total
Rockets: 1 4 3 1 9
Royals: 0 1 2 0 3
Shots by Period: 1 2 3 OT Total
Rockets: 21 24 25 1 67
Royals: 15 20 26 0 61
*The Rockets are 4 for 13 on the power play in the series while the Royals are 2 for 9.
Rockets in Victoria: The Rockets were 2-1-1-0 in four visits to Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre during the regular season. The Rockets won by scores of 5-3 and 3-2 and suffered a 5-2 regulation loss February 21st. In the only overtime game between the two teams, November 19th in Victoria, Axel Blomqvist scored the winner in a 4-3 victory. The amazing stat in the seasonal series was both teams were identical 5 for 17 on the power play in the four games on the island. Oddly, the Rockets over the last five years have had more success in Victoria than in Kelowna. In the team’s last 20 appearances at Memorial Centre they have earned a point (12 wins and 2 overtime losses) in 14 of those 20 games.
Hot to Trot: Tyson Baillie has a point in every playoff game. Baillie is riding a six game point streak with 5+3=8 over that period…Gage Quinney has goals in three straight playoff games….Nick Merkley is riding a four game point streak. Merkley has 0+5=5 over that period. Merkley has not scored in five games or since game one of the Tri City series...Madison Bowey has points in four straight games. Bowey has 2+3=5 over that stretch….Leon Draisaitl has has a three game point streak in this year’s playoffs. The 19 year-old has 6 assists in those three games but hasn’t scored in four straight games…Rourke Chartier has two-two goal games in the playoffs…Joe Gatenby leads the Rockets with a +8 rating in the playoffs. Tomas Soustal has goals in three of his last four games.
This and That: Tyson Baillie has five playoff goals. The 19 year-old had five in last year’s playoffs and eight in the 2013 post season. Add it up and Baillie has 18 goals in his last 28 playoff games…Two of the Kelowna Rockets all-time top players call Victoria home. Jamie Benn and Tyson Barrie won a WHL title with the Rockets in 2009. Both also played for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship…Nick Merkley has been rated as the 23rd best player in North America for June’s NHL draft. NHL Central Scouting released its final rankings last Wednesday. Devante Stephens was rated 116th while Joe Gatenby was 174th …The Rockets have opened the scoring in five of the six games in this year’s playoffs…Madison Bowey turns 20 on April 22nd…The Rockets won the most road games of any team in the WHL (27)…Nick Merkley and Cole Linaker were the only two players to play in all 72 regular season games this season… The Rockets were held to just one goal seven times this season. Kamloops (road), Seattle (road), Edmonton (road), Calgary (twice – once on road and once at home), Regina (home) and Prince Albert (home) have turned the trick against the highest scoring team in the Western Conference...Justin Kirkland has missed 21 straight games with a LBI…Tyrell Goulbourne has a team high 39 playoff games under his belt…Madison Bowey has 37 games of playoff experience…The Rockets played in 14 post season games last season …Cole Martin has 35 playoff games on his resume….In total, the Rockets have 393 games of playoff experience in the lineup this evening…Rourke Chartier had 6 goals in 14 games in last year’s playoffs. In this year’s post season, the now 19 year-old (turned 19 April 3rd) has five goals in six games.
Dare to compare: The Rockets had 30 more points than the Royals during the regular season, with 14 more wins and 16 fewer losses. The Rockets scored 61 more goals and allowed 36 fewer against. The Rockets and Royals each had five – 20 goal scorers. The Rockets had eight 15 or more scorers while the Royals had seven.