Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Rockets have a problem..

Jackson Whistle - Shoot the Breeze Photography

  • The Kelowna Rockets clearly have a problem. It is one hockey team's embrace. The defending WHL champions have two solid goaltenders and both are challenging each other to be better. After Michael Herringer was named the first and second star in back-to-back wins over the Prince George Cougars, 20 year-old Jackson Whistle followed Herringer's lead Saturday night in a 3-0 shutout performance over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. Whistle was spectacular, specifically in the second period, when he made 15 saves for his 8th career shutout. Whistle was named the first star as the Rockets improved to 9-4-0-0 on the young season. Combining for three straight wins - the longest winning streak for the team this season - Whistle and Herringer are proving they may be the best goaltending tandem in the Western Hockey League.
  • Whistle was at his best in the second period when the Hitmen were awarded three consecutive power plays. Whistle won't get style points for keeping the puck out of the net, but his never give up approach must have inspired his team-mates, who were clinging to a one goal lead. The only reason the Rockets were headed to the second intermission up 1-0 was the efforts of the veteran goaltender and a shorthanded unit that was committed to blocking shots and keeping the visitors to the outside.
  • The game started as a classic match up between 20 year-old goaltenders Whistle and Hitmen starter Brendan Burke. Burke left the game after the first period after apparently injuring himself when Rockets forward Kole Lind slid into the Arizona Coyotes draft pick while he was attempting to clear the puck to the side boards. Lind clipped Burke's left leg, sending the goaltender crashing to the ice with his mask popping off his head. Burke would play out the period before giving way to Kyle Dumba. Burke did not return to the Hitmen bench for the remainder of the game.
  • The Hitmen's downfall was the power play. It stubbed it's toe on six chances. The Rockets were awarded only two power plays and scored on one when forward Cole Linaker fired the puck into the empty net late in the game to make it 3-0.  
  • Tyson Baillie collected two assists and now has 9 points in his last three games.
  • Dillon Dube now has goals in three straight games after scoring his 9th of the season, giving the Rockets a 2-0 lead. Dube has goals in four of his last five games.
  • Dube earned his first career WHL fight when he nailed Hitmen defenceman Travis Sandheim with a high hit, knocking the Philadelphia Flyers first round pick to the ice. Sandheim's twin brother Taylor came over and fought Dube, who was seen bleeding from the lip as he made his way to the penalty box. 
  • Joe Gatenby earned his first assist of the season on Linaker's empty net power play goal.
  • Hitmen defenceman Travis Sanheim was sensational. The 19 year-old look every bit a first round NHL draft pick. The veteran was poised with the puck, fired it with authority and played consistently hard over the course of the game. As good as he was in the offensive zone, Sanheim was seen skating hard in his own end after Nick Merkley snuck behind him with the puck on an apparently breakaway. Rather than give up on the play, Sanheim skated back, tying up the skilled forward to eliminate Merkley from getting a shot on goal.
  • The Rockets are now 5-1-0-0 against teams from the Central Division. The only blemish was a 7-4 loss in Red Deer in the teams fifth game of the season.

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