The opinions of a Western Hockey League radio broadcaster
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Lind 'lights the lamp' in one goal win
Kole Lind - Shoot the Breeze
Kole Lind proved that he can score goals in the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League. The Shaunavon, Saskatchewan resident scored 45 times with the Saskatoon Contacts last season. Now the 4th round WHL bantam pick is proving he can score at the next level. Lind scored three times Monday night in a 3-2 home ice win over the Kamloops Blazers. Lind, who has the luxury of playing on a line with league leading scorer Tyson Baillie and set up man Dillon Dube, scored his 11th, 12th and 13th goals of the season in the Rockets 13th home ice win. Lind was named the first star for his efforts. The well spoken forward has been named the first star in three of the last six games after collecting a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win Sunday in Kamloops before scoring a highlite reel goal and collecting two assists in Swift Current on December 15th.
A typical tight hockey game between the Rockets and Blazers. It has been the theme over the course of the seasonal series. The Blazers are no push over. They are a good hockey team that will win more games then they lose in the second half of the season. The reason? The Blazers work hard and don't quit. Collin Shirley has been excellent this season and they have one of the best coaches in the game guiding them into battle. It all adds up to a winning formula. In four of the Rockets five wins against the Blazers this season, those games have been decided by a single goal. The two teams don't meet again until March 4th.
The Rockets played this game without five regulars. The Blazers asked for supplementary discipline on forward Justin Kirkland after a hit Sunday on Kamloops defenceman Dallas Valentine. With Kirkland suspended Monday night, the team also played the game without Rourke Chartier, Calvin Thurkauf, Tomas Soustal and injured forward Rodney Southam. The Blazers also played shorthanded without Gage Quinney, Valentine and Patrik Maier (World Juniors).
The biggest surprise on the night was the two starting goaltenders. I didn't think the Blazers had one with starter Connor Ingram single handedly dominating the crease in Kamloops this season. Jackson Whistle also took the night off after carrying the mail for the Rockets for the majority of the season. Michael Herringer was solid, making 37 saves in the one goal win. Blazers backup Dylan Ferguson was no slouch either at the other end of the ice.
How good is Blazers d-man Dawson Davidson? Yikes. I remember how well he played as a 16 year-old affiliated player last season. Now 17, Davidson is crafty with the puck and reminds me a bit of Tyson Barrie. I don't see him enough to evaluate his defensive game, but what Davidson does around the puck at such a young age is impressive. That's a solid 3rd round bantam pick.
Joe Gatenby was great on the blue line last night. It can't be understated. I would have given him a star in the building. The 18 year-old was especially good at getting into shooting lanes and blocking shots. What Gatenby has done in the first two games after the Christmas break has surprised me. Gatenby's set up of Kole Lind's one time goal Sunday in Kamloops was impressive and his slap pass to Tyson Baillie in the third period last night showed Gatenby's offensive awareness.
You have to love Don Hay. Early in the third period, a gate/door malfunction at the Blazers bench resulted in a five minute delay. The off-ice maintenance crew were called in to address the problem. At one point, the door to the bench was literally pulled off its hinges in an effort to fix it. Hay didn't stand idly by though. The 61 year-old, at one point, had the entire door in his hands in an effort to aid the off-ice crew in making the necessary repairs. Hay, if given the chance, may have taken the power drill into his own hands if he was asked. I thought it was pretty cool that Hay, wearing his Sunday best, humbled himself enough to get involved in the minor repair. It honestly speaks volumes for the character of the man. How can you as a player not follow Hay's lead? Wow!
The Rockets have won 9 straight games on home ice. The last loss came way back on October 30th. It matches the longest home ice winning streak of the season, set earlier by the Seattle Thunderbirds, who won 9 straight home games between October 3rd and November 27th. Last season the Rockets also won 9 straight homes before it was snapped in early November.
How about the crowd? It was a sellout as 62 hundred strong welcomed the Rockets back to Prospera Place after a seven game absence.
Up next is a date with the Everett Silvertips Wednesday night. The Tips have allowed a league low 74 goals against this season. The league record for fewest goals against in a season is held by the 2003-2004 Kelowna Rockets. That season the team allowed an astonishing 125 goals against.