Thursday, November 12, 2015

Little life in home ice win

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Emotional let down? Had to be! After two emotionally filled games in Portland on the weekend against what the Kelowna Rockets consider their best playoff rival, it was an uninspired effort Wednesday against the last place Vancouver Giants. Do we blame the music man for the lack of atmosphere in the building before puck drop? No music was heard pounding in the arena as fans began filing into Prospera Place after giving their respects to the many men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. It was a somber effort by a Rockets team that squeaked out a 2-1 shootout win. Tanner Wishnowski tied the game with 10 minutes left in regulation time before Nick Merkley scored the game winner in the shootout. The path to the team's 14th win of the season, and fifth overall, was an ugly one to say the least.
  • A typical decent start for the Rockets, who were experiencing their first afternoon game of the season. The problem was a lack of jump throughout the entire line up and the slow decision making of virtually the entire team. Face it, they didn't have it. The only one with a decent excuse for sluggish play was Nick Merkley, playing his fifth game in six night's. Funny how Merkley may have created the best scoring chances in the game and was named the third star.
  • Merkley was sent alone on a breakaway in the second period and made the odd decision of passing the puck off to a trailing Justin Kirkland, who was as shocked as any that Merkley gave him the puck rather than shooting. Merkley was also robbed on a wrap around chance after taking Giants defenceman Ryeley McKinstry off the puck while shorthanded. Merkely stole the puck behind the Giants net, circled out in front only to see goaltender Daniel Wapple make a diving save with his left glove to keep the puck from going over the goal line. Wapple was solid throughout the night and probably deserved a better fate. 
  • Getting back to Wishnowski, the 18 year-old was making his first appearance after sitting out eight games after blocking a shot. Wishnowski opening the scoring when his weak shot hit Wapple's left pad, which was situated behind the goal line while attempting to defend against a pass from behind the net. After video review, it showed that Wishnowski's shot indeed went over the goal line, hitting Wapple's pad before quickly coming back out.  It was Wishnowski's second goal of the season and first since finding the back of the net October 6th in Medicine Hat.
  • Jackson Whistle wasn't given a star in the building but I thought his strong play in the first two periods specifically allowed his team to stay close. Whistle's only mistake, and it wasn't really his fault, was when Giants forward Tyler Benson skated on left wing and took a shot that seemed to glance off a defenders stick before beating Whistle to his glove hand side. The 20 year-old now has 10 wins this season, which is slightly behind league leader Coleman Vollrath of the Victoria Royals who has 12 victories.    
  • Tyson Baillie had his 8 game point streak snapped.
  • Cole Linaker played in his 200th career game.
  • Sixteen year-old Jonathan Smart made his debut against the Giants. Smart, who has been out with mono before finally getting healthy enough to play at the Under 17's in Dawson Creek/Fort St. John, saw limited duty but played well.  To make room for Smart, the Rockets elected to put Danny Gatenby up at forward where he too saw sporadic duty. 
  • The Giants did not dress 20 year-old Trevor Cox, who remains out with a hand injury sustained in a fight against Lethbridge. Cox is expected to make his Giants debut Friday night. 
  • The Rockets have now won 17 consecutive games on home ice against the Giants. 
  • I find it interesting that Vancouver Giants owner Ron Toigo is often speaking to the media about his team and head coach Lorne Molleken isn't afraid to stick his head in front of a microphone when asked. But where is GM Scott Bonner? Is he not the quietest GM in the WHL? Bonner makes trades and isn't scared to pull the trigger to make his club better, but in a large market like Vancouver where media exposure should be welcomed, shouldn't Bonner be more available to the media? 

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