Sunday, January 24, 2016

Big night for the 'Big Man'

Braydyn Chizen - Shoot the Breeze Photo
  • Western Hockey League games in late January are often times forgettable. Not so for Kelowna Rockets rookie defenceman Braydyn Chizen. A game against the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 'dog days' of the schedule will be one the 17 year-old will never forget. Chizen, playing in only his 22nd career WHL games, scored his first career goal, collected his first career assist and was named the games first star in a 4-0 shut-out win. It was comical as Chizen huddled underneath the bleachers at Prospera Place with fellow team-mates Michael Herringer and Justin Kirkland after the game to accept his post game award. Chizen knew he was a star, but which one? 1-2 or 3? When Bill Barnes, the Rockets public address announcer, came on the microphone and said with his booming voice, "The second star with a goal and an assist", Chizen began to walk towards the ice when he quickly backtracked when he heard Barnes say, "Justin Kirkland". Once Kirkland came off the ice, Chizen knew only then that he indeed was the games first star as he took the ceremonial skate on the ice to the delight to the home town fans. It was a special night for the biggest player on the ice ( Chizen is 6 foot 6) with what appears to be the smallest ego. 
  • This was as dominant a performance by the Rockets as we've seen all season. They owned the puck. They owned the corners. They owned absolutely every aspect of the game. With a season high 82 shot attempts, this was as complete a game the Rockets have had this season. It honestly looked easy. Surprisingly the score didn't reflect how overpowering the home team was and how weak of an effort the Tigers put out. You can't sugar coat this game. The Tigers were severely over-matched.
  • For the record, it only seemed right that Chizen score his first career goal in his 22nd career game. Chizen wears jersey #22.
  • Michael Herringer made 16 saves for his first shut-out of the season and third of his career. Solid when called upon, it was nice to see the 19 year-old have an easy night considering it was his 9th consecutive start.  It was also nice to see his team-mates play hard in front of him to preserve the goose egg. Tyson Baillie was the best example, when the overage forward literally dove on his belly to slid a puck outside of his own zone with the Tigers threatening to score on a late third period power play. 
  • I thought Justin Kirland deserved what he got Saturday night. With a little more jump in his step than normal, the 19 year-old was on pucks and scored a goal and added an assist. The Nashville Predators draft pick almost scored a highlite reel goal in the second period, only to see the puck go off his stick on a great individual rush in an effort to beat Tigers goaltender Nic Schneider. Honestly, I thought Kirkland looked really good playing with Tyson Baillie and Dillon Dube. Rookie Kole Lind, a mainstay on that line for a good portion of the season, was demoted to the fourth line after being a health scratch the night before.
  • Tyson Baillie scored his 28th goal of the season and ended the game with a +2 rating. The 20 year-old is now +100 in his WHL career.  Baillie also has four goals in his last 5 games and is riding a six game point streak.    
  • How is Nick Merkley's game coming along this season? The 18 year-old has 15 points in January (5+10=15).  By comparison, Merkley had 16 points in the month of January one year ago. Merkley still has three games to exceed those totals from a year ago with games next weekend against Portland, Victoria and Seattle.
  • The Rockets are 10-1-0-0 in 11 games against the Central Division this season. The only loss was a setback in Red Deer. 
  • Since returning from the World Juniors, Calvin Thurkauf has points in 6 of 7 games (4+5=9)
  • I usually like to include on my blog recaps one player I liked from the opposition. I have to dig deep here but I thought Caleb Fantillo was the best Tigers skater. The 17 year-old is from Coquitlam, so he may had more jam in his game considering he was playing in his home province.
  • How much better would the Tiger be right now had they not traded away three of their top players? Trevor Cox, Cole Sanford and Dryden Hunt amassed a combined 287 points last season. Sure, it appears all three requested trades, but is the question being asked in Medicine Hat on why the trio wanted so badly out of the organization?


RocketMan said...

As a season ticket holder I have been able to watch Chizen whenever he has played and have all along thought that he could be a very good player. His skating ability really stands out. Which makes him a good comparison to Meyers.
Regan with the Rockets playing 4 games in 5 nights this weekend what are they going to do in goal? They can't play Herringer in all of those games.

Regan Bartel said...

Kevin Swanson (1999-2000) started 38 straight games, so it can be done.