Monday, April 25, 2016

Rockets/T-Birds ready to go for game three

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: It is game three of the Western Conference Champions series as the Kelowna Rockets face the Seattle Thunderbirds. The T-Birds lead the best of seven series 2-0 after back-to-back 2-1 and 3-2 victories in game one and two. Game four is tomorrow night at ShoWare Centre with game five in Kelowna on Friday. This is the Kelowna Rockets third straight appearance in the Western Conference final. The Rockets eliminated the Portland Winterhawks in six games last season and were eliminated in five games by the Winterhawks in 2014. These two teams met in the WCC in 2003, with the Rockets winning in five games. During the regular season, these two teams met four times with the home team winning all four games.

Game Two Recap: Scott Eansor’s goal with just over 3 minutes left in regulation time proved to be the game winner in the T-Birds 3-2 win. Seattle built up a 2-0 lead before the Rockets roared back with goals from Cole Linaker and Rourke Chartier. The Rockets were 0 for 3 on the power play while the T-Birds were 1 for 2.  Michael Herringer made 27 saves in the loss.
Game One Recap: The Seattle Thunderbirds built up a 2-0 second period lead with goals :36 seconds apart in a 2-1 win. Mathew Barzal opened the scoring with a power play goals before Scott Eansor found the back of the net when his shot went off the skate of a defender. Rourke Chartier would find the back of the net to spoil Landon Bow’s shutout with a power play goal with :22 seconds left in regulation time. The Rockets and T-Birds were both 1 for 3 on the power play. The T-Birds out-shot the Rockets 29-24.

What we’ve learned so far: The T-Birds have opened the scoring in both games…Both opening goals of the game have come from Mathew Barzal on the power play…Scott Eansor has scored the second goal in both games…The T-Birds have held a 2-0 lead in both games before the Rockets have attempted to battle back…The T-Birds have led for all 120 minutes in this series…Seattle has had the lead in both games after 40 minutes…The Rockets are 1 for 6 on the power play in this series while the T-Birds are 2 for 5 with the extra man…The Rockets out-shot the T-Birds in game two. Seattle out-shot Kelowna in game one.

Broadcasters Notebook:  The Rockets lost the first two homes games against Seattle in the 2005 playoffs before winning the next two games on the road. The Rockets ended up winning that series on home ice in game seven…The Rockets are 8 and 8 in 16 playoff games. The team lost only three times in last year’s playoffs on its way to a WHL title…The most losses the team has ever suffered in a championship season was in 2005 when the team lost 8 times in 24 playoff games. The Rockets were 16 and 8 that playoff….The last WHL team to play in two-seven game playoff series before winning the WHL title was the Medicine Hat Tigers. In the 2007 post season, the Tigers eliminated the Red Deer Rebels in seven games in the opening round and then used seven games to dispose of Vancouver in the WHL championship series…Michael Herringer was absolutely brilliant in a second round playoff series with Victoria. The 20 year-old goaltender (in hockey age he is still 19) had a sparkling goals against average of 2.29 and a save percentage of .927. In the four games Herringer won in round two, the Comox, BC residents goals against average was 1.97 with a save percentage of .937…..Goaltender Michael Herringer has been named a game star in 7 of the 15 playoff games. Herringer has been the first star (2), the second star (3) and the third star (2)….12 of the Rockets 16 games in this year’s playoffs have been decided by a single goal… The Rockets were involved in 8 – one goal games in last year’s playoffs…

Seasonal series: The Rockets beat Seattle 7-4 and 5-2 while the T-Birds were a 6-0 winner and earned a 2-0 shutout win at ShoWare Center. Justin Kirkland (2+3=5) and Tyson Baillie (1+4=5) led the Rockets with 5 points in the four games during the regular season. Rourke Chartier played in only three games but found the back of the net three times. Michael Herringer was 1-2-0-0 in the seasonal series with a goals against average of 4.03 and a save percentage of .894.

Hot as a Pistol: Justin Kirkland has goals in four of his last six games….The 19 year-old had six goals in a second round series win over Victoria…Kirkland has 16 career playoff goals…Rourke Chartier had 3+3=6 in the seven game series against Victoria including two goals in game five…Chartier has 26 career playoff goals…Tomas Soustal may be the biggest surprise in the 2016 post season. The second year forward has 5+7=12 points after recording just 4+2=6 in 19 playoff games in claiming the Ed Chynoweth Cup last season ….Tyson Baillie leads the team with not only 62 playoff games of experience, but also 26 goals and 60 career points. Baillie is the franchise leader in both goals and points in the WHL playoffs.

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