Thursday, April 16, 2015

Split on road leaves Rockets sour

Photo by Kevin Light -Tomas Soustal's 2nd period goal
  • If the Kelowna Rockets were looking for a split when they played a pair of games in Victoria Tuesday and Wednesday night, then mission accomplished. But something tells me the Western Conference regular season champions were looking for more than that. The Rockets won a crucial game three by eking out a 4-2 win and attempted to repeat the performance again Wednesday night, but this time the wheels fell off the wagon. Nursing a 4-2 lead midway through the third period, a turnover by captain Madison Bowey at the side of his own net gave the Royals a gift goal from Jack Walker. Up until that point, the home team, which had no real life in the third period up until that point, regained the belief that their season may indeed be extended with a late period push. Twenty-four seconds later, the Royals again found the back of the net and the Royals rally was on. This is a game the Rockets simply gave away. Awarded a power play after Victoria overager Brandon Magee was given a goaltender interference penalty :14 seconds into overtime, the visitors never created a good look on the man advantage that ended the night going 0 for 8. A few minutes later, on a mad scramble in front of the Rockets net, Greg Chase found the back of the net and the Royals avoided elimination with a 5-4 overtime win. Back to Kelowna we go for game five tomorrow night.
  • The Rockets surrendered a two goal lead three times only to see the Royals bounce back to get within one goal. They had a 2-0 lead in the first period before the Royals found the back of the net and then regained that two goal advantage at periods end with Rourke Chartier’s 6th of the post season. Then with a 4-2 lead midway through the third, the Royals again struck for back-to-back goals to tie the game at four. The loss gives the Royals just a glimmer of hope in sending this series back to Victoria on Sunday. If the Rockets don’t nail it down tomorrow at Prospera Place in game five, the Rockets will be doing all the sweating, not the Royals, who must win the next three games to advance to the Western Conference final.
  • While the power play failed to strike on eight chances, it generated good looks early in the game but ran into some unfortunate bounces. As the power play attempts went for not, you had a strange feeling this would come back to bite the Rockets. Indeed it did. On a team with an above average skill set, 0 for 8 shouldn’t even be in the teams vocabulary.
  • It was nice to see Lucas Johansen score his first career playoff goal. It came on a seeing eye slap shot from the left point that beat Royals goaltender Justin Paulic. Paulic was the surprise starter in game four as Royals head coach Dave Lowry elected to change things up with his team down three games to none. Paulic replaced Coleman Vollrath and the team’s fortunes changed. 
  • In the first four games, the Royals have played with the lead for only 7:15 seconds.
  • It was hard to believe that Austin Carroll’s goal in the second period was his first of the playoffs. The 21 year-old has been snake-bitten since he signed that NHL contract with the Calgary Flames. Carroll made no mistake when his snap shot beat Whistle between the legs. 
  • It was the Rockets first loss of the playoffs. The team is now 7 and 1 in eight playoff games.
  • Last night's game in Victoria was the teams 80th of the season.

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