Thursday, March 24, 2016

It is the most wonderful time of the year

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: Welcome to the WHL playoffs. The Kelowna Rockets face the Kamloops Blazers in game one of a best of seven Western Conference quarter-final series. Game one is tonight with game two tomorrow at Prospera Place. Game three is back in Kamloops on Tuesday with game four, also in Kamloops, next Wednesday. These two teams are meeting for the 6th time in the playoffs. They clashed in 1992, 1999, 2002, 2009, 2013 and now in 2016. In four of the five playoff meetings the series has lasted just four games. Only in 1999 did the series go six games with the Blazers prevailing four games to two. 

Rockets.Blazers Seasonal Series: The Rockets and Blazers met eight times this season with the Rockets going 5-2-1-0. The Rockets won the first five games before the Blazers won the last three meetings. Tyson Baillie led the Rockets with 6+6=12 in the eight games in the seasonal series. Tomas Soustal had 7+1=8 in the 8 games. The Rockets opened the scoring in five of the eight games. The Rockets out-shot the Blazers in 6 of the 8 games. Overall, the defending champions out-scored their BC Division rivals 27-22. Here is the breakdown of period-by-period scoring during the regular season:

Period:      1      2      3     OT   Total
Rockets:   6      9      11    1       27
Blazers     6      8        7    1       22

Rockets Review: The Kelowna Rockets finished the regular season in second place in the Western Conference with 48 wins. The team won 27 times on home ice, which was only behind Seattle’s 29 and Lethbridge’s 28 home ice victories. The team scored the 4th most goals in the WHL this season (269) while allowing 218 against, which is the exact same number of goals allowed by the Blazers. The Rockets earned 100 points for a fourth consecutive season and had 10 players with 40 or more points.  

Number Crunching Tyson Baillie has 46 games of playoff experience, the most on the Rockets roster…Baillie has 23+30=53 in those 46 games…Cole Linaker is next with 44 playoff games under his belt…Tyler Mosienko is the franchise leader in playoff games played with 81…Seven Rockets will be making their WHL playoff debuts tonight against the Blazers…Michael Herringer is 3-0-0-0 in the WHL playoffs with a goals against average of 1.96. Herringer won series clinching games over Tri City, Victoria and Portland in last year’s post season….You can’t make this up. The Rockets and Blazers have the identical age (17.43) when looking at the respective team’s defensive cores….Gage Quinney plays against his old team in this series. Quinney played in 15 playoff games last season for the Rockets on their way to a WHL championship…The Rockets reached the 100 point mark for a fourth consecutive season and 6th time in franchise history. The team accomplished the goal in 2002-2003 (109), 2004-2005 (104), 2012-2013 (108), 2013-2014 (118) and 2014-2015 (109)…Devante Stephens was the only Kelowna Rockets player to participate in all 72 regular season games this season…. The Rockets are 14 for 28 (50%) on the power play in their last 8 games…The Rockets have out-shot the opponent in 11 of the last 12 games.…The Rockets have fired 369 shots on goal in the last 9 games or 41 shots per game…Michael Herringer has started in 29 of the teams last 34 games…The Rockets have won 11 of their last 17 games overall (11-5-1-0)...The Rockets are a combined 75-1-6-0 when leading after two periods when you combine this seasons totals and last seasons…Tyson Baillie has been named a Western Conference first team all-star…The Rockets handed out its season ending awards. Tyson Baillie was named MVP.  Joe Gatenby was the top defenceman. Cal Foote was the rookie of the year. Cole Linaker was the top defensive forward for a third straight season. Rourke Chartier was the sportsmanlike player of the year for a third consecutive season. Foote was the scholastic player of the year. Justin Kirkland was the unsung hero. The humanitarian award went to Riley Stadel. 

Who’s Hot: Rourke Chartier is riding a six game point streak entering the playoffs. Chartier has 4+9=13 over that period. Chartier has goals in four of his last six games…Dillon Dube is riding a six game point streak heading into the post season. Dube has 3+6=9 over that period.. Lucas Johansen has points in 16 of his last 22 games…Cole Linaker has points in 13 of his last 17 games. Linaker has 5+10=15 over that period…Linaker had a career high 50 points, eleven more point than a season ago…Tyson Baillie has points in 15 of his last 20 games…Justin Kirkland has points in 16 of his last 20 games.

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