Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Smothering defence

Photo credit - Vincent Ethier

  • Kelowna Rockets head coach Dan Lambert called it a 'smothering defence' a day after his hockey club suffered a 2-1 loss to the Oshawa Generals at the 2015 Memorial Cup. Lambert say the Ontario Hockey League champions "Do it the best" of any team his hockey club has faced this season. The Generals played a tactical game to perfection last night in the one goal win, which sends the G-Men (can we call them that or is that only used for the Vancouver Giant?) to Sunday's final. The Rockets hope to get another crack at them, but must wait to see if the Quebec Remparts handle the Rimouski Oceanic tonight which will determine if a tie breaker or a semi final game will be played on Friday.

    • The Rockets struggled mightily to get quality shots on Generals goaltender Ken Appelby in the opening two periods. With just ten shots combined, it was amazing to think the WHL champions were within one shot of tying it. Did the Rockets have trouble adjusting to the defensive style the Generals were implementing or were they slightly intimidated by a much larger opponent? Whatever it was, it took two periods to figure it out and by then it created a third period rally with an urgency level where it needed to be at puck drop. 
    • Dan Lambert was asked if he considered pulling Jackson Whistle late in the game with his team trailing by a goal and awarded a five-on-three. Lambert says he considered it, but looking back, he was happy with the offensive chances his team created in the dying seconds of that 89 second power play chance. The Rockets stormed the net and had several good looks on Appelby, who stood tall despite the relentless pressure. Tyson Baillie and Nick Merkley had the best chances but 'puck luck' was nowhere to be found. 
    • The most snake bitten player was Rourke Chartier. The 48 goal man was stopped by the paddle of Appelby's stick (pictured) in the first period on what appeared to be a sure goal. The 19 year-old then hit the cross bar late in the third period when he attempted to go high over the glove hand side of the veteran goalie. Chartier has yet to score in three games at the Memorial Cup. The good news is the chances are there. The bad news? No finish, but that will come.
    • Gage Quinney has been a nice story at the Memorial Cup. The 19 year-old has four goals at the tournament and is proving to be one of the best players in the four team circuit. Quinney has now played 56 games with the Rockets (regular season/playoffs/Memorial Cup) and has scored 20 times, has assisted on 28 goals and has collected 48 points. 
    • One goal losses are uncommon for the Rockets. They played in just seven-one goal games this season. They played in just four road games where they manufactured just a single goal. In those four games, it should come as no surprise that they lost all of them.
    • Dillon Dube continues to impress. The 16 year-old had our hit of the game when he applied contact early in the first period. While that is all well and good, should a rookie who is undersized right now because of his youth be leading the hit parade? Dube also had a solid chance in the third period when he found himself in the slot with only Appelby in his way. Dube had to fire the puck off quickly with Appelby making the blocker save.
    • I think we need to mention Jackson's Whistle's play at this tournament. The 19 year-old has answered the bell. Whistle doesn't make it look easy, is clearly the most unorthodox of the four goaltenders we've seen at this tournament, but the dude keeps the puck out of the net. Whether he implements the poke check or elects to go old school when he makes a double pad stack save, the West Kelowna resident has had a solid tournament. 
    • Cole Cassels? Solid player. The Canucks have a good one there. I hate to use coaching speak but he is truly a 200 foot player. Great at face-offs, heightened awareness defensively and can score. For my money, the third rounder was the best skater on the ice last night. 
    • What is the general feeling around the team today? They would love to be 3-0 and off to the Memorial Cup final like the Oshawa Generals, but taking the glass half full philosophy, they should be cautiously optimistic about a likely date with the Quebec Remparts in the semi finals. The Rockets lost to the host team last Friday in a game where the WHL champs were not very good. They would love another crack at them, and with some luck and better execution, which would allow them to meet up with Oshawa one more time for all the marbles.

    1 comment:

    Peter Maryschuk said...

    Let's show up right from the bell. Go hard for 60 minutes at both ends of the ice. Use your speed and get the 'suspect' officials to call some hooks and trips that the defense will have to do while you are blowing by them and crashing the net. This is game seven. You played mediocre hockey against Victoria and Portland in some of your playoff games and then bounced back looking like a first place WHL Championship team. Let's do it again in the semis and then you can start thinking about Sunday. Short shifts for everyone. Go Rockets!