- Have you come down from that high after the Kelowna Rockets WHL Championship win Wednesday night over the Brandon Wheat Kings? People are still talking about it, and rightfully so. It was a six year wait between championships and people in these parts were hoping that the regular season success in 2013-2014 wouldn't end up in playoff failure this time around. Thankfully it didn't.
- Dan Lambert delivered the goods in his first season behind the Rockets bench, but he didn't hesitate in thanking Ryan Huska. I thought it was cool when Lambert thanked 'Husk' on the TV broadcast following the game. Lambert and Huska were inseparable when they worked together and the two had many conversations during the season, even though Huska was miles away in Adirondack. It shows no disrespect towards Lambert's current coaching staff, who did a fantastic job as a support to the first year head coach. Huska knew many of the current roster players so it only made sense for Lambert to get an outside opinion. You need to use outside resources if they are a phone call away. Lambert exercised that option and should be applauded for that.
- What role did Dan Bylsma play in all of this? Remember when the NHL coach spent time with the team in early March? Was he at anyway responsible for the turnaround in the penalty killing unit, which was just average during the regular season? At first I thought he had done some damage as the team didn't play very well upon his departure. I am sure the 'tweaks' he made were another reason why the Rockets are now WHL Champs!
- My good friend Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier mentioned this and I wanted to repeat it here on my blog. The Brandon Wheat Kings showed great class in the final 30 odd seconds of game four by simply allowing the Rockets to run out the clock and enjoy the celebration. No late hits. No pushing and shoving at the buzzer. The Wheat Kings lost with class/dignity. That all starts from the top with one man - Kelly McCrimmon.
- It was awfully amazing to see this team win without having several key players in the line up for the long run through the playoffs. The team played without Josh Morrissey, Rourke Chartier, Gage Quinney and Tyrell Goulbourne for significant stretches and still won. These four players are not secondary citizens. They are first or second line contributors that would seriously handcuff any team if they were out of the line up. Depth prevailed and was clearly on display over the 19 game playoff run.
- How about the officiating in the WHL final? How about the officiating in game four? Sure, the odd call was missed but I thought they did a terrific job. Again, they kept the whistles in the pockets and let the two teams play. Excellent work in my opinion. How many penalties were called in a scoreless tie in the third period? One. A slash. Jeff Ingram and Brett Iverson....terrific work gentlemen by not being the focal point.
- Cole Linaker had one point in this series. The 19 year-old, who was a horse on the penalty killing unit, collected an assist on Leon Draisaitl's game winner shorthanded. I love the way he plays. No flash and dash in his game.
- Does anyone hunt down pucks better than Rourke Chartier and Nick Merkley? Quit is not in their vocabulary.
- I think the talk about the Rockets inside job to obtain Leon Draisaitl is bogus. It is all about contacts and connections in the hockey world. If you have those relationships you use them. Does Portland have connections and a pipeline to European born players? Does Kelly McCrimmon have an inside edge on Manitoba born players that allows him to make smart, calculated moves at the bantam draft table? Do the Calgary Hitmen have inroads to obtain solid Russian born players? The Oilers wanted Draisaitl in a good spot. They were familar with Bruce Hamilton and felt comfortable that Draisaitl would prosper here. Was Matt Dumba shopped around the WHL when the Minnesota Wild wanted to send him back to junior? Likely not. The Wild wanted him to go to a contender and the Rebels and Winterhawks made it happen.
- The last WHL team to win the Memorial Cup when it was hosted in Quebec was the 1994 Kamloops Blazers. Who was on that team? An 18 year-old by the name of Ryan Huska.
Friday, May 15, 2015
on May 15, 2015