Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rookie goalie makes most of 1st career start

Rookie goalie Brodan Salmond
  • Brodan Salmond likely never envisioned putting on a Kelowna Rockets jersey this season, let alone win his first WHL game as a goalie with the defending WHL champions. With veterans Jackson Whistle and Michael Herringer anchoring the Kelowna crease this season, their was no room for a 17 year-old rookie to shine. Or was there? With an injury to Whistle, Salmond was added to the roster February 1st after starting the season with the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Camrose Kodiaks. As luck would have it, the Calgary resident made his first official start against the Prince George Cougars Saturday night before a crowd of just under 38 hundred that mostly wanted to see the Rockets 10th round bantam pick from 2013 fail. Instead, Salmond made 30 saves in the Rockets 6-4 win, sweeping both games from the Cougars at CN Centre after a 4-3 overtime victory Friday night. Salmond is the first Rockets rookie goalie to win in his first WHL start since Jordon Cooke, who was also 17 at the time, made 35 saves in a road win in Everett back in 2010.
  • Salmond's appearance marked the first time in 19 games that Michael Herringer was awarded the luxury of watching the entire game from the bench. Herringer was 11-6-1-0 in those 18 games which is more than admirable for a goalie, who up until Whistle's injury at the end of December, had started just four consecutive games with the Rockets in 2014-2015. 
  • The Rockets rallied around the rookie goaltender and played their best defensive game of the two on the weekend. After surrendering a season high 46 shots against Friday night, a great commitment in their own zone resulted in 34 pucks sent Salmond's way Saturday night. The team also did a good job of providing Salmond with 'run support', finding the back of the net six times, allowing the 5'11, 180 pound goalie some wiggle room to make a few mistakes in his WHL debut as a starter.
  • It must be the smell of the pulp mill in the air that contributes to the Rockets success in Prince George. The team is an impressive 16-4-0-0 in their last 20 regular season appearances at CN Centre. The team swept the Cougars in back-to-back games becoming only the second team this season to accomplish that feat. The Vancouver Giants did it in January.
  • Since the start of the new calender year, Justin Kirkland may be the Rockets best forward. The 19 year-old had two goals Saturday night in Prince George and now has 12 goals in his last 18 games. With 24 goals this season, 30 is within striking distance for the Nashville Predators draft pick.
  • Tyson Baillie had three points Saturday night (1+2=3), which allowed him to set a new career high in points with 79. Last season Baillie had 76 points. Nine points in his last five games is nothing to shake a stick at either. 
  • A solid crowd in Prince George Saturday night. Just under 38 hundred fans took in the game. The number wasn't fudged either. It was legit. Season ticket holders were rewarded with a Cougars 3rd jersey blue baseball cap when they entered the building. A tip of the cap, pardon the pun, to the Cougars organization for the generous gesture. The caps didn't look cheap, like some free give-aways can be, with most of the fans wearing them with pride. Can I have one? On second thought, that would just be wrong!
  • Up next, a date with the Red Deer Rebels at Prospera Place Tuesday night followed by a home and home series with the Vancouver Giants next weekend.

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