Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tough night for goalies in game three victory

Shoot the Breeze Photography

  • Eric Comrie deserves a Mulligan. So does Jackson Whistle. Both goaltenders were lights out terrific in game one and two of this opening round playoff series between the Kelowna Rockets and Tri City Americans. Many were wondering if these two could keep up the pace. Unfortunately for both of them, on the same night oddly, looked human in the Rockets 5-3 win. Comrie made two nice saves on Gage Quinney in the first period and had no chance on Riley Stadel's opening goal, but the 19 year-old didn't make the timely saves we are accustomed to seeing him make. Tomas Soustal's low wrist shot to the glove hand side was a stoppable puck and Tyson Baillie's power play goal through Comrie's legs in the third period is one the Winnipeg Jets prospect will easily deny. After being the best player on the ice in game one and two, sadly for the Americans, their last line of defense was mortal in the two goal loss.
  • After shutting out the Americans in game one and two, you knew the dam would break for Jackson Whistle. Named the CHL goalie of the week earlier in the day, Whistle was just average in the game three win. Like Comrie, the 19 year-old didn't make any outlandish saves to deny the Americans of glorious scoring chances. Whistle had no chance on the Beau McCue goal which ended his shutout streak at 154:14, but Jordan Topping's goal from the wing and McCue's second goal to make things interesting late in the game was a rising shot that should be stopped. The nice thing was Whistle didn't have to be terrific at his end because Comrie was just OK at the other end of the ice. 
  • No one noticed in the building, but Joe Gatenby was the Rockets top player. Gatenby's compete level was the best on the team. I would venture to guess he didn't lose a puck battle all night long. His teammates? I different story. I thought the majority of the team didn't have the compete for pucks like we witnessed in game one and two. Several times, American players were able to out muscle the visitors off the puck. It had nothing to do with making body contact and separating the man from the puck, but just more 'want' in getting it to win it outright.
  • Disciple, or a lack thereof was a real concern in game three for the Rockets. They allowed the Americans nine power play chances. Nine! That can't the playoffs if you want to win. Thankfully the Americans power play unit struggled and only manufactured one goal. Sure, some of the calls were suspect, but you have to avoid going to the penalty box that often. You have to play smart at this time of the year and two penalties by veteran players, who I won't mention, must be eliminated. Those two penalties are a tell tale sign of where the majority of the team was mentally last night.
  • The Rockets struck for two power play goals. Tyson Baillie's game winner was essentially a two-on-one off the rush, so while it counts as a power play goal, the team didn't exactly set up in the offensive zone and create the scoring chance from there. But after going 0 for 7 in the first two games, the Rockets will take any success they can get with the extra man.
  • I thought Tomas Soustal had a good game. I think Cole Lind played well. Chance Braid had some good shifts. Anyone who had determination and wanted to battle along the boards looked good in my opinion. Lind's assist on Braid's third period goal was a great example of wanting the puck more than the opponent and literally willing the puck into the net.
  • I will go back to the fact that if Comrie was as good in game three as he was in game one and two, the Americans may be a game away from tying this series. Fortunately the goalie struggled or the Rockets could be up in the series 2-1 not 3-0.
  • How did Parker Wotherspoon not get a game star for the Americans last night? He stood out like a sore thumb. Like Gatenby, he too won pucks, made great decisions and often rushed the puck up ice. You have to remember Wotherspoon is a 1997 born player. I thought he was the best American on the ice by a country mile. The score-sheet won't show it, but more importantly his play did.
  • A pretty decent crowd last night at the Toyota Center. A Tuesday game that saw just over 32 hundred fans on hand should put a smile on the face of ownership. 
  • Game four in the series goes tonight at the Toyota Center. The Rockets can wrap up this series in four straight games but the effort has to be better....and the team has left lots of room for it to be significantly better. Leon Draisaitl was extremely quiet outside of two grade 'A' scoring chances where he fired the puck directly into the logo of Comrie. If that line of Tyson Baillie, Leon Draisaitl and Gage Quinney can come alive in game four, I like the Rockets chances of advancing tonight to round two.

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