Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rockets on the ropes

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • The Kelowna Rockets need to start a four game winning streak. If they don't there season is over. The Seattle Thunderbirds pushed the Rockets to the edge of playoff elimination last night at ShoWare Center with a 3-1 win. It was another closely contested game where the T-Birds opened the scoring for a third straight game. Five stick infractions had the Rockets in a heap of trouble with Lucas Johansen taking a trip to the penalty box just 25 seconds into the game. The T-Birds could have buried their opponent right then and there but managed only one power play goal and a slim 1-0 lead at the first period buzzer.
  • Despite playing close to half of the opening period shorthanded, the Rockets tied the game when Justin Kirkland scored his 9th goal of the playoffs with a tremendous pass from line-mate Tyson Baillie. Kirkland made a nice backhand move to give the visitors renewed life as the two teams went into the second intermission tied at one. It marked the second straight game where the two were tied heading into the third period after skating to a 2-2 draw after 40 minutes in game two. It was Baillie's first point of the series. 
  • The Rockets puck luck hasn't materialized yet in this series. Not even once. Joe Gatenby and Cal Foote hit goal posts from point shots and Riley Stadel had two glorious chances to tie the game on a tremendous up ice rush. I thought Stadel had a great game considering the limited time he spends on the ice. Stadel likely would have scored had T-Birds goaltender Landon Bow not been at his best. It was clearly Bow's best game of the series. 
  • In limited minutes, I thought rookie defenceman Brayden Chizen played very well. The big man made smart plays with the puck, either skating quickly behind his own net to get away from pressure or sending the puck high in the air in an effort to get it out of the zone.   
  • Mathew Barzal had another strong game for the T-Birds. The New York Islanders draft pick set up Ethan Bear for the game winning goal just 58 seconds into the third period and then sealed the game with an empty netter. Barzal creates a lot of attention when he has the puck and the tendency is to over commit when he has it on his stick. In the game winning goal though, he was able to skate freely at the left face-off circle before hitting Ethan Bear with a pass at the right dot that appeared to beat Herringer through the legs. 
  • The crowd at ShoWare Center was at their absolute best. The atmosphere in that building was again tremendous. I especially like the second intermission when the fans turn their cell phone lights on and the song, 'Sweet Caroline' by Neil Diamond is played over the PA system. It is a sight to behold. 
  • The T-Birds have won 7 straight playoff games after losing game one to the Everett Silvertips in the second round. 
  • The Rocket do receive a boost in game four with captain Rodney Southam back in the line up after serving a two game suspension for a hit in game one. Southam will help considering his fresh legs will be put to good use in this elimination game. 
  • The Rockets are in a massive hole. That there is no debate. But if they could gut out a win in game four, what would that one win do to change the completion of this series? The Rockets haven't played a complete game in this series, yet surprisingly, are still within a razors edge of winning. I would love to see the Rockets win tonight to see how the T-Birds would react to some adversity of their own. As an outsider, it doesn't appear the U.S Division champions have faced any in this year's playoffs. I think it is time for the Rockets to stir the pot and get the T-Birds blood pressure up. 

1 comment:

Ralph said...

If the T-Birds can take 3 straight against the Rockets, the Rockets can surely take 3 straight against the T-Birds. Also, if the Rockets can beat Victoria in 3 straight then they can beat the T-Birds in 3 straight. And as we know, anything can happen in game 7. Rough road ahead, but nobody said the playoffs were going to be easy right? Looking forward to your call tonight, Regan!