Friday, November 27, 2015

'Whistle' while you work

Jackson Whistle was superb Friday night - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • We are only 25 games into the 2015-2016 Western Hockey League season and one thing is abundantly clear. Jackson Whistle is the Kelowna Rockets most valuable player. The 20 year-old proved it again Friday night with a 34 save performance in a 3-1 win over the Victoria Royals. Whistle made several solid stops in the teams 19th win of the season, including one that saw a shot go off the top of his mask with the Royals attempting to tie the game at two. Whistle looked as calm as ever as his team struggled to clear the puck in front of him. Often under siege, specifically in the final 40 minutes, Whistle looked unbeatable until Royals leading scorer Alex Forsberg fired a one timer past him with close to seven minutes gone in the third period. The win was Whistle's league leading 14th of the season and it was his 9th consecutive start that allowed his team to earn, in a worse case scenario, a point in the standings. The two points in Victoria Friday night move the Rockets five points up on the Royals for first place in the Western Conference while also staying three points up on Red Deer for first place in the overall standings.
  • Tyson Baillie had a goal and an assist which gives him 44 points on the season. That allowed the 20 year-old to move into the WHL scoring lead with one point more than Moose Jaw's Brayden Point. Baillie is now three assists shy of 150 for his career.   
  • While the Rockets scored twice on the power play, they were also able to go 6 for 6 on the penalty kill. The best chance the Royals had to score in the second period was when Tyler Soy hit the goal post shorthanded while cutting inside on Rockets d-man Cal Foote. Soy somehow lifted the puck past the outstretched glove of Whistle, but it hit the goal post and stayed out. 
  • The Rockets haven't lost in regulation time on the road in seven consecutive games. The last outright loss on opposition ice came October 16th in a 3-0 setback in Prince George.
  • It was the 4th time this season the team has surrendered only one goal against.
  • A stick tap to the Victoria Royals for keeping a count on the number of shots taken by a player during the course of the game. You can see the column on the WHL website game sheet, yet often times it is never filled out by the home team. In this case, it showed Justin Kirkland had five shots on net while Calvin Thurkauf had four. The Rockets d-core had a combined three shots on net with Cal Foote having two of them and Devante Stephens having one on a second period shot from the left point.
  • The two teams meet again Saturday night at Save on Foods Memorial Centre. The Rockets will have to be much improved in all facets of the game outside of goaltending. Frankly, on Friday night at least, that can't get much better.

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