Sunday, September 27, 2015

Baillie is a pain in the neck while Whistle has one

  • Tyson Baillie has been a pain in the neck for the Kamloops Blazers over his five year career in the Western Hockey League. The 19 year-old (doesn't turn 20 until November) just scores goals against BC Division foes. Goaltender Jackson Whistle was dealing with a pain in the neck too after helping his team to a 7-3 win in Kamloops Saturday night. While Baillie scored twice in the Rockets first road win of the season, Whistle was sent to hospital in the third period after getting what appeared to be a stick in the neck. Whistle had problems breathing as he left the ice during the goal mouth scramble, but by games end, the 20 year-old remained over night in Kamloops before heading home to Kelowna today while his teammates travelled to Vancouver for a date against the Giants this evening. 
  • Outside of the win, it was a rough night for the Rockets, who lost their number one goaltender for an undetermined amount of time and then had a flat tire between Hope and Chilliwack in the early morning hours. It delayed the teams arrival into Vancouver by close to two hours. 
  • Back to the game. The Rockets surrendered 44 shots on goal, but many were from the outside. I thought the team played a cleaner game in its own zone. The breakout passes were better and the forwards were willing to do more to help out the young d-core. I didn't think the Blazers forecheck was as relentless as it was a night earlier, so the combination of a series of factors had the Rockets playing a cleaner game defensively. Is there still room for improvement in that area? Without question. 
  • It was a good night for 16 year-old Cal Foote. Pictured to the right, the young d-man scored his first career WHL goal after Blazers goaltender Connor Ingram attempted to fire the puck up the middle of the ice on a Rockets power play. The puck instead was knocked down by Foote, who fired it past the glove hand side of Ingram to make the score 2-0. Foote's father Adam was in attendance to see his son's first WHL goal. It was indeed a proud moment.
  • Tyson Baillie is off to a tremendous start. With two goals and an assist in back-to-back games, Baillie is off to a sizzling pace. This isn't unusual for Baillie, who had a six game goal scoring streak to start the 2014-2015 season. 
  • Tomas Soustal has really been a nice story two games into the season. The 18 year-old really evolved into a power forward late last season and made an impact at the 2015 Memorial Cup. Soustal has three goals in two games. It took him 11 games to score three goals in his rookie season.  
  • I like when players show emotion. Defenceman Devante Stephens played with it last night when he found himself in a scrap with Blazers 20 yeaar-old Ryan Rehill. Common sense would tell you to stay away from Rehill, who is a proven fighter, but when you are agitated to a certain point, emotions take over and you fight back regardless of the predicted outcome. Stephens took more than a few punches but didn't cower. On character alone, I think it showed what 'Devo' is all about.
  • Biggest surprise of the night? Blazers head coach Don Hay elected to pull starting goaltender Connor Ingram after the Rockets third goal. But then again, did Ingram make a massive save to give his team a chance to win? Probably not. In relief, Dylan Ferguson allowed four goals but made two solid stops which could have easily been goals.
  • I think the Blazers are a much improved team from last season. I saw some good things from Don Hay's crew over the weekend. Clearly, the teams younger players are carrying the mail two games into the season. But where are the veterans? Collin Shirley was extremely quiet on the weekend and Luke Harrison was just average for a 20 year-old player. I sure like newcomer Garrett Pilon and Nolan Kneen. If the veterans can follow the rookies passion, mark my words, the Blazers are going to win their far share of games this season.     

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