Thursday, November 19, 2015

'A' effort in overtime win

  • Rodney Southam - Shoot the Breeze Photo
    Effort all over the ice. Those five words would best describe the Kelowna Rockets performance Wednesday night in Kamloops. The forwards took an about face from Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss in Spokane and played with purpose in their own zone in a 4-3 overtime win against the Blazers. Rodney Southam was the hero with the game winner two minutes into three on three, but it was the play in their own zone, collectively, that was the most impressive aspect of the visitors game. Trust me, the attention to detail defensively did not take away from any creativity in the offensive zone. The team had ample chances to score and had it not been for the strong play of Blazers goaltender Connor Ingram, overtime would have been a pipe dream. Ingram, the games third star, was so good he denied breakaway chances from Nick Merkley, Kole Lind and Tanner Wishnowski before Tomas Soustal finally beat him with a snap shot to give the Rockets a 3-2 lead. With Ingram on the bench for the extra attacker, Collin Shirley would score his second goal of the game with 27 seconds left in regulation time to send the game into overtime. The game winner came from an unlikely source when  Southam beat a Blazers defender to the net on the back hand before beating Ingram. It was Southam's first game winning goal of the season and allowed the Rockets to move into a tie with Prince Albert and Victoria for first place in the Western Hockey League standings. All three teams have 31 points, with the Rockets holding two games in hand on the Royals and one on the Raiders.
  • Soustal's goal was his first in 12 games. Soustal played on a line with Tyson Baillie and Justin Kirkland.
  • Tyson Baillie collected two assists giving the 20 year-old 251 career points, becoming just the fifth player in Rockets franchise history to reach the 250 point milestone. 
  • The Rockets have 9 road wins, tied with Victoria for the most in the WHL.
  • The Blazers didn't take a penalty in the game which didn't allow the Rockets #2 power play unit on the ice for even a single skate.
  • Gage Quinney faced his old team for the first time and the 20 year-old had no less than two great chances to score. Quinney's best chance came on a partial breakaway in the second period when goaltender Jackson Whistle got a piece of Quinney's shot with his blocker, deflecting the puck over the left side of the net. Quinney ended the night with an assist.
  • If you are the Blazers, take the point and run. While the home team was badly outplayed in the first period, I thought they were better as the game went along. On a night of several turnovers that allowed for quality chances for the Rockets on Ingram, even Blazers head coach Don Hay should be satisfied with a point when his team could have come away empty handed. 
  • The win snapped the Blazers five game home ice winning streak.

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