Sunday, November 15, 2015

Whistle unable to bail out Rockets this time

Gordie Ballhorn - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • No excuses in a 4-3 overtime loss Saturday night in Spokane. The Kelowna Rockets were well rested. The Rockets were waiting in their hotel room in Spokane Friday night while the Chiefs were four hours down the road playing the Everett Silvertips. The Rockets should have been fresher. Sadly, the Chiefs were more determined in the one goal win. Defenceman Jason Fram scored the game winner in overtime as Spokane rallied from a 3-1 third period deficit, snapping the Rockets five game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Rockets did pick up a point and moved into a tie with Victoria for first place in the Western Conference with two games in hand. 
  • What has been a trend through the first month and a half of the regular season is the teams reliance on goaltender Jackson Whistle. The team gives up way too many golden scoring chances, with Whistle bailing them out more times than not. Whistle had to be on top of his game Saturday night, making two breakaway saves against 44 goal man Adam Helewka in the first period and another early in the third. Helewka would be denied on the first period scoring chance, but a weak back check allowed Dominic Zwerger to cash in with the rebound with Whistle down. Helewka was again denied by Whistle when he found himself all alone on an early third period power play. Again Whistle kept the visitors up by a goal. The easy suggestion without watching the video highlites ( is to suggest the young defensive core is making a boat load of mistakes, but it is far from the truth. The forwards are as guilty as any of flying the zone, not back checking hard and having little regard for play in their own zone. Often times they are not exposed because of Whistle's terrific play. 
  • The game winning goal is scored when Tyson Baillie takes a major gamble by trying to strip the puck from Chiefs forward Adam Helewka while team-mate Justin Kirkland is trying to do the same thing. It allows Spokane d-man Jason Fram and team-mate Jaret Anderson-Dolan to essentially create a two on one with only defenceman Lucas Johansen back to defend. Anderson Dolan gets the puck and promptly sends it over to Fram at the right side of the net and it is game over. Under the new three on three format, man to man coverage is pivotal. If a player cheats, it often results in a scoring chance for the other team. That is exactly what we saw in Saturday's setback. 
  • All was not negative. A nice offensive game for rookie Gordie Ballhorn. The 18 year-old scored once and added two assists in the overtime loss. Ballhorn is the most proactive shooter the Rockets have on the blue line. No one else on the d-core wants to shoot the puck it seems. Ballhorn is trigger happy and good on him for not only distributing the puck but making the opposition second guess themselves that he may unload it towards the net.
  • Tanner Wishnowski made the biggest impact among the forwards. The 18 year-old was clearly the most physical with a real nice hit on Chiefs d-man Evan Fiala in the third period. 
  • It was the first time this season the Rockets dropped two points after leading after two periods. The team is now 10-0-1-0 when leading after 40 minutes.   

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