|Jason Smith wins his 1st game as a head coach at any level|
Kelowna Rockets Head Coach Jason Smith would disagree.
Smith earned his first WHL coaching victory Saturday night when his team went out and scored a 5-1 home ice win over the Kamloops Blazers. It was a stark contrast to his WHL coaching debut Friday night in Kamloops, where he watched his team crumble in a 9-2 road loss.
"It's exciting. It is nice to bounce back from last night. The guys played a much more complete game out there. They did a lot of the little things we have been talking about over the last couple of weeks, with pressuring the puck, skating and making smart, simple plays and obviously getting the puck to the net."
How did the players treat their new head coach to his first of what will hopefully be many wins behind the Rockets bench this season?
"In the room, I always go in and say something after the game. The guys had the puck. They scooped it up off the ice after the game and presented it to me. It was a great moment. It is something I will remember for a long time", Smith added.
- Riley Stadel scored twice in the win. The 20 year-old had two goals all of last season playing as a forward. This weekend with a lack of defenceman, Stadel was back on defence but was able to find the back of the net twice. Those two goals allowed Stadel to hit the 100 point mark in his WHL career.
- Connor Bruggen-Cate earned his first career WHL point on Stadel's opening goal.
- Jordan Borstmayer found the back of the net for the first time this season. If you take into consideration the goal and assist he earned in the final regular season game of the 2016 season, the 18 year-old has two goals in his last three games. Oh ya, it is a stretch, but I am always looking for positives!
- Michael Herringer was solid in the win. While not tested to the degree he was Friday night in Kamloops where he gave up four goals on 18 shots, you could see the 20 year-old was locked in. I think he is a terrific goalie that at times struggles with consistency. It is typical at this level.
- The discipline was much improved than a night ago. Could it have been any worse Friday?
- Cal Foote went quietly about his business and collected three assists. Man, I love when he shoots the puck.
- Rookie Kyle Topping has assists in back-to-back games.
- I thought rookie defenceman Konrad Belcourt was about to score his first career goal when he came off the bench with fresh legs in the third period, kept a puck in at the left point and ripped a slap shot that went just wide of the far post.
- Jonathan Smart has a goal and a fight in the first two games of the season. Great start for the personable player.
- I sure like Gordie Ballhorn's play, How about his great defensive play in the third period where he used his stick to break up a good scoring chance?
- Last night's home opener crowd was 5348. That was down 116 fans from a season ago.
- For a second straight game the Rockets played without 6 regulars. Nick Merkley, Calvin Thurkauf, Braydyn Chizen, Lucas Johansen, Devante Stephens and Dillon Dube are all at NHL main camps. Only the Calgary Hitmen, with 7 regulars, were missing more players on the opening weekend of the WHL season.