Thursday, March 17, 2016

No longer the top dog!

Coleman Vollrath - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • The Kelowna Rockets used to be the best. Now they know what is needed to compete with the best. The Victoria Royals out-hustled, out-competed and out-scored the Rockets in a 7-4 win Wednesday night at Prospera Place, capturing the Scotty Munro trophy as regular season champions for the first time in franchise history. The Royals top two players, Tyler Soy and Alex Forsberg, combined for 8 points in the win. The Rockets top two scorers, Tyson Baillie and Justin Kirkland, didn't reach the score sheet. That is never a good sign. That and the fact the Royals dictated the pace of the game which often left the home team flat footed. Even when loose pucks were available, the Royals were first to them, and if the Rockets had it, the Royals desperately wanted to get it back. No better example that Tyler Soy's second period goal where the smallest player on the ice, Mathew Phillips, out-muscled Devante Stephens behind the Rockets net and sent the puck to Soy, parked in front , for his fourth point of the game.
  • Despite the lopsided score, the Rockets eventually made it a one goal game with two goals 16 seconds apart in the second period. Dillon Dube would score a power play goal on a double minor to Royals d-man Ty Westgard and then Calvin Thurkauf would find the back of the net, again on the power play, to make it a 3-2 game. Momentum was on the Rockets side right? Not so quick. Like real good teams do, the Royals scored less than a minute later to regain a two goal advantage. On three separate occasions the Royals established a three goal lead when the Rockets attempted to close the gap.
  • The good news? The Rockets power play struck for all four goals. It went 4 for 6. The bad news? The penalty killing unit allowed four power play goals against. The team took far too many penalties, none worse than captain Rodney Southam's unsportsmanlike penalty for yapping at the officials. It came when the score was 3-0 and the Rockets were on the power play.
  • The Rockets had no less than three-two on ones in the game and the puck carrier wouldn't shot it. On all three occasions, the Rockets came up empty handed with not even a shot on goal. 
  • Both goaltenders fought the puck. Coleman Vollrath was not his solid self. See the Tomas Soustal goal on video in the third period if you don't believe me. With the veteran not on his game, this was an opportune time for the Rockets to take advantage. Outside of quality chances on the power play, when it came to 5 on 5 hockey, the home team couldn't match the Royals determination.         
  • The craziest sequence of the game happened when Vollrath thought a penalty was being called on the Rockets for high sticking. The 20 year-old raced to the bench only to see that no call was made. With the puck at the other end of the ice, the Royals were able to corral it, and despite their net being wide open, they scored. 
  • The Rockets have lost 5 of their last 7 heading into the final two regular season games of the season. Are they meaningless games for the Giants? Pretty much. They will miss the playoffs. For the Rockets they are huge despite it having no bearing on where they finish in the standings. This team needs an injection of confidence in a big way.
  • With Rourke Chartier's three assist effort, the 19 year-old is now one of 9 players on the roster with 40 or more points. 
  • The seven goals were the most the Rockets have surrendered at home this season.  The last time the Rockets allowed 7 goals in a regular season game on home ice was February 17/2012 in a 7-1 loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen.   
  • The Royals came into Kelowna last March 11th and beat the Rockets 6-3.

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