Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Merkley and Rockets mow down Cougars

Nick Merkley - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • It was vintage Nick Merkley last night against the Prince George Cougars. The Kelowna Rockets third year forward scored twice and added two assists in a 7-4 win over the visiting Prince George Cougars. It was Merkley's second-four point game of the season and fourth of his career. Linemate Rourke Chartier collected three assists while Calvin Thurkauf had a pair of helpers in a game that saw the two teams combine for 35 scoring chances. The win moved the Rockets within a single point of idle Lethbridge for first place in the WHL standings and increased their lead to 7 points over the Victoria Royals for first place in the Western Conference.
  • The best period for the home team was clearly the first. The Rockets did almost everything right including dominating territorial play with good old fashioned hard work. Almost to a man they were around pucks in the opening 10 minutes before the Cougars appeared to find their game. The home team was full marks for a 3-1-first period lead.
  • Six goals were scored in a second period where the two team's combined for 28 shots. The Rockets built up a 6-2 lead and the blow-out was on. Not so fast! The Cougars scored twice before the second frame was through and it was only a two goal lead heading into the third period. 
  • Discipline, or a lack of it again was a problem for the Rockets. The Cougars made good on two of five power play chances and scored a shorthanded goal. Dillon Dube's boarding minor late in the second period which resulted in a power play goal from Prince George Cougars Brad Morrison didn't sit well with Brad Ralph. The Kelowna Rockets head coach did the right thing by stapling Dube's butt on the bench for the entire third period. Look for more of that to happen if disciple continues to be an issue. 
  • Tyson Baillie returned to the line-up Tuesday and recorded one assists. Baillie is only four points shy of Regina's Adam Brooks for the WHL scoring lead. Baillie has played three fewer games.
  • Justin Kirkland had two goals in the game and now has six goals in his last eight games. 
  • Up next? The Rockets play game two of a five game home stand Friday against the Tri City Americans before welcoming the Medicine Hat Tigers Saturday night. 

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