Monday, September 28, 2015

Three in three takes its toll

Dillon Dube - Shoot the Breeze Photography

  • Tired. No jump. Little push back. Those words would best describe the Kelowna Rockets effort Sunday night in a 5-2 listless loss to the Vancouver Giants. It seemed like the 20 man roster were all feeling fatigue. No one player stood out in a game that saw the Giants score two ugly goals in building up a 5-0 lead. One goal went off defenceman Devante Stephens arm and over the head of goaltender Michael Herringer and into the back of the net and another saw designated tough guy Taylor Crunk score from an almost impossible angle along the end red line to open the scoring. It was an ugly game to be frank. Despite an inspired effort in the third period, the G-Men snapped a 13 game losing streak against the Rockets that dates back two seasons.
  • Michael Herringer started in goal with Jackson Whistle hurt after receiving a stick in the neck Saturday in a 7-3 win over the Blazers. It was not Herringer's finest hour. Looking steady and as solid as a rock in brief appearances in last year playoffs, the 19 year-old was fighting the puck and never did make a big save for his team. But in defending Herringer, he wasn't alone in the number of veterans that just didn't have it Sunday night. The defending champions played a perimeter game and just weren't hungry enough to find pucks and get them back.
  • The power play is an earlier concern to the season. It had six chances last night to score and only found the back of the net once on a Lucas Johansen shot from the blue line. Awarded four consecutive power plays in the third period to rally, the power play didn't create many good looks. Simply put, it wasn't very dangerous when it should be with the personnel on it. The only two power play goals this season have come from defenceman.
  • Head Coach Brad Ralph pulled Michael Herringer with just under four minutes to play in the third period when the score was 5-2. It was designed to get back in the game with a couple of quick goals. While the Rockets dominated territorial play, the number of shots that got through to Giants starter Payton Lee was minimal. In some cases shots were blocked, but in other instances, the Rockets were hesitant to shoot and hunt down rebounds.
  • Despite the negative results, it was the team's third game in three nights. While this isn't unusual for the WHL, it is something new for the Kelowna Rockets, who in my 15+ years behind the mic have never started the season playing three consecutive games. No matter how you see it, playing three in three to start a season is a tall task when two of those three are on the road.
  • Tyson Baillie is off to another terrific start to the season. The 19 year-old is tied for the league lead in points with seven. Had the Rockets won Sunday night and Baillie had scored, the Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta resident would have likely been named the WHL POW. Instead the honour rightfully went to Victoria's Alex Forsberg.
  • Tomas Soustal now has four goals in three games to start the season. Who does he think he is....Leon Draisaitl? I don't anticipate the 18 year-old continuing at this pace, but if he can chip in with a 20+ goal season, it would make up significantly for the loss of scoring punch from Madison Bowey on the defensive core. 
  • Outside of the loss itself, the most disappointing aspect of last night's game in Vancouver was the crowd. While it was announced that over four thousand were in the building, it was extremely small for a Sunday night. Yes, it is late September. Yes, it was a beautiful day in Vancouver, but it was one if not the smallest crowds - visually - I have ever seen at Pacific Coliseum. Owner Ron Toigo has to be concerned. 
  • We will have to see if the WHL hands out a suspension to Rockets forward Dillon Dube for his five minute kneeing major penalty in the second period. Dube was ejected from the game while Giants d-man Brennan Menell had to be helped off the ice. The good news is the Giants believe Menell could play this weekend. It would be tough to lose Dube for the first game of the Alberta road trip.

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