Sunday, March 6, 2016

Shooting blanks

  • Shooting blanks. Parents to be cringe at the very phrase. So do coaches of WHL team's who struggle to score. Throw Kelowna Rockets head coach Brad Ralph into that category after a pair of losses to the desperate Kamloops Blazers on the weekend. The Rockets fired 101 shots on Blazers goaltender Connor Ingram in the two games and manufactured only four goals. That averages out to a goal every 25.25 shots. Ingram picked up the number one star honours on both night's and has to be considered for the POW (Player of the Week) award when it is announced by the WHL office on Monday. While Ingram wasn't as busy as Friday, when the Blazers earned a carbon copy 3-2 win, the 18 year-old was required to make more quality saves Saturday night in the one goal victory. Solid goaltending and desperate hockey are a lethal combination when a team heads into the playoffs. The Blazers have both in spades right now. Opponents...beware!
  • Where the Blazers fall short on skill, they appear to make up for it in heart. The Nick Chyzowski goal was a great example. While falling down, Chyzowski beats Rockets goaltender Michael Herringer with a backhand shot to make the score 2-0. The goal comes from the lip of the crease. It's a greasy goal. It is a gutsy goal. It is a goal that wins you games at this time of the year. Ya, the pretty ones look good on video but the ugly ones provide results in the standings.
  • Tyson Baillie scored his 38th goal of the season, passing his career high of 37 goals set last season.
  • Justin Kirkland extended his point streak to 10 games with an assist on Baillie's third period power play goal. Kirkland has the longest point streak of any Rockets player this season. Baillie had a 9 game point streak earlier this season.
  • Cole Linaker had his career high 8 game point streak end Saturday night.
  • Lucas Johansen has made the greatest improvement of any Rockets players this season. Johansen has 35 more points than he had all of last season. Johansen has points in 13 of his last 15 games after an assist Saturday night on Baillie's power play goal. 
  • The Rockets are 10-5-0-0 in their last 15 games. Of those 10 wins, seven have been one goal victories. The Victoria Royals, the hottest team in the WHL in the last 15 games are 13-1-1-0. The Royals lead the Rockets by 5 points with 7 games left in the regular season. The Royals only have five games remaining.  
  • Kelowna Rockets Athletic Therapist Scott Hoyer will be inducted this summer into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton. Hoyer was presented with the ‘Larry Ashley Award’ prior to Saturday’s home game against the Kamloops Blazers. The award is given each year to a trainer, equipment manager or medical person associated with the game of hockey in BC. Blazers athletic therapist Colin Robinson has high praise for Hoyer. "He has great character. One thing that I think separates him from a lot of other guys is his care level of his players. He is a true professional and carries himself very well. When he came back to the Western Hockey League after that small stint, it made the WHL a better league". Kelowna Rockets forward Cole Linaker says Hoyer is an unsung hero on his team. "I can't say Scotty has had a bad day. He is always outgoing and happy and makes the guys feel better. He is an important part of keeping our team positive. I remember a quote he had during our long playoff run last year. 'Good times boys, good times'. When ever we faced adversity, he would say that to us and it seemed to lighten the mood on the bench", Linaker added. 
  • I am a big fan of Don Hay. Why? I always have solid encounters with Hay chatting about the game even after the pre-game interview is over. A great example was Saturday night where we talked for several minutes about the Joe Gatenby hit on Jake Kryski the night prior. Hay is so comfortable with me, or so I assume, that he physically demonstrated on me how he saw the hit. No, he didn't actually run me over at full speed, but it again shows that Hay is willing to take some extra time with me in his busy schedule and the relationship, visiting broadcaster to visiting coach, isn't entirely impersonal.  
  • The Rockets host the Prince George Cougars Wednesday in what could be a preview of an opening round playoff match-up between the two teams. If the playoffs were to begin, the two teams would square off for the first time since the 2011 playoffs. In that series, the Rockets eliminated the Cougars in four straight.  

No comments: