Saturday, January 23, 2016

Timely saves/scoring add up to 32nd win!

Shoot the Breeze
  • The reason, often times, why the Kelowna Rockets have had success this season is because of timely saves from veteran goaltender Jackson Whistle. Now back up netminder Michael Herringer is attempting to follow a similar path. The 19 year-old, who has been forced into a starting role due to an injury to Whistle, made several timely saves Friday night in a 4-2 win over the visiting Tri City Americans. Left off the three stars for his 30 saves performance, Herringer's biggest stop came courtesy of his right pad against Americans overage forward Beau McCue. With the Rockets holding a slim one goal-third period lead, and on the power play, McCue intercepted a pass along the near boards inside the offensive zone. McCue skated to the middle of the slot, and against the grain, let a quick wrist shot go that Herringer turned aside deftly with his right leg. Had McCue scored, it not only would have tied the score, it would have given the visitors a truck load of confidence with close to 15 minutes remaining in the game. That solid stop was one of 16 that Herringer would make in the final period as the Rockets earned their 32nd win of the season and moved within a single point of Lethbridge for first place in the WHL standings.
  • Despite only generating 7 shots in the third period, a skilled group of forwards that the Rockets possess need little in the way of chances. Rourke Chartier scored the game winning goal on a tremendous pass from Nick Merkley on an odd man rush. Twenty year-old Tyson Baillie would put the game away when he found himself on a two-on-one with Dillon Dube after blocking a shot at his own blue line. Baillie made the right read on the goal. With Tri City defenceman Brandon Carlo playing the pass the entire way, Baillie saw a gap between the legs of goaltender Evan Sarthou and sent the puck through the five hole to give the home team a 4-2 lead. The Americans would pull Sarthou with 3:30 left in regulation time but were unable to beat Herringer.
  • Both Herringer and Sarthou were solid in the game. Cole Linaker had a breakaway in the second period that Sarthou turned aside and Herringer made numerous timely saves, including a right pad stop in the second period at the left side of the net on Americans forward Vladislav Lukin.  
  • Rodney Southam returned to the line up after missing 12 games with a lower body injury and made an immediate impact. Southam scored the tying goal in the second period to make the score 2-2. 
  • Is anyone paying attention to Americans 16 year-old forward Michael Rasmussen? The 6'5 Surrey kid is having a pretty solid season with 10 goals and 26 points in 37 games. Rasmussen is first round bantam pick from 2014 and played at Okanagan Hockey Academy.
  • Brandon Carlo. Wow! How good is he? I thought he was terrific on the Americans blue line. The second round pick of the NHL's Boston Bruins makes hard outlet passes and plays a steady defensive game. It's a shame I only have a chance to see him play three times a season. Carlo didn't play in the Americans first appearance at Prospera Place in early January as he was sent home to Colorado to rest after playing for the U.S at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
  • Speaking of players to watch, Americans Parker Wotherspoon again did not disappoint. A 4th round pick of the New York Islanders, is he not the best 18 year-old defenceman in the WHL? Some would argue Ethan Bear of Seattle, who I also really like, is more dynamic offensively but he plays on a team which I believe has more skilled forwards to distribute the puck too. Wotherspoon logs massive minutes, is always around the puck and makes smart decisions with it. 
  • I know. I know, enough about the Americans. The Rockets discipline was much better in this game than Tuesday night in a 7-4 win over Prince George. Despite taking three straight penalties in the opening period, the team took only one in the third period when the game was in doubt. The Americans attempted to goat the Rockets into penalties in the third period in an effort to get their second best power play unit in the WHL on the ice to get back in the game, but the Rockets did a good job of containing their emotions.  

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