Thursday, October 20, 2016

A wins a win

Lucas Johansen - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • A night of firsts for the Kelowna Rockets. Lucas Johansen scored in overtime, on the power play, in a 4-3 win Wednesday night over the Everett Silvertips. It was the 19 year-old's first tally of the season. Rodney Southam, Devante Stephens and rookie Nolan Foote, all with their first goals of 2016-2017, found the back of the net as the Rockets snapped a three game losing streak. The victory didn't come without its warts, but when you have 3 wins in your first 10 games....a win is a win!!
  • Playing from behind isn't easy. Playing with the lead isn't either. For only the third time this season the Rockets enjoyed the luxury of having the lead heading into the third period. That's right, in 8 of the first 10 games, the Rockets were facing a deficit heading into the final 20 minutes. With a 3-1 lead Wednesday night, the team looked rattled as the Tips rallied with two goals, including the tying marker with just over a minute left in regulation time with the goaltender pulled. Considering the Tips had played the night before in Spokane and were down two goals heading into the final period, the fact they managed to earn a point must have quietly felt like a victory for the visitors.   
  • Devante Stephens had, without question, the best goal he has scored in his WHL career. Sure, the soft spoken d-man had only 6 careers goals heading into last night's game, but the 19 year-old had a great individual effort in helping his team built up a 2-0 lead. Stephens, who is one of the quickest skaters in the WHL, carried the puck up ice, skated to the outside of the Tips defender and then swiftly cut back towards the net and tucked the puck past goaltender Carter Hart. Stephens often carries the puck up ice, but I have never seen him take it to the net like he did in his 7th career goal. 
  • The best goal of the night likely came from 16 year-old rookie Nolan Foote. It wasn't necessarily how the puck was shot past Tips goaltender Mario Petit, who came into replace starter Carter Hart after giving up two goals on five shots. Foote's first career WHL goal came on a pass from his older brother Cal, who fired a long stretch pass from blue-line to blue-line which allowed his younger brother to spring loose behind the Tips defence. It was cool to see Cal pick up the puck and hand it to his younger brother after the goal was scored. A terrific moment for all to witness and the execution of the goal, with both Foote brothers involved, couldn't have gone down any better.   
  • A more disciplined effort by the Rockets, but the screws need to be tightened even further. Head Coach Jason Smith was seen doing the right thing when forward Jake Kryski wasn't given playing time after taking two of the teams five minor penalties. Defenceman Jonathan Smart was a healthy scratch Wednesday night. It makes you wonder if that was also a message sent by Smith that bad penalties won't be tolerated? Smart had taken a penalty in five of his last 7 games.  
  • The Rockets needed to win this game. The Tips had played the previous night in Spokane and had to be road weary. Amazingly, they didn't look fatigued outside of Carter Hart, who looked sleepy on both goals he surrendered. The Tips also played the game with essentially six-16 year-old's. I will throw Riley Sutter and Wyatte Wylie into the mix considering those two are 16 now, with Sutter turning 17 on Ocotber 25th and Wylie also turning 17 on November 2nd.  
  • The Rockets scored two power play goals on 4 chances. Rodney Southam's opening goal on the power play snapped a 0 for 14 slump with the man advantage.
  • The Rockets conclude a four game home stand Friday against the Tri City Americans before traveling to Seattle to face the T-Birds Saturday night in a rematch of last seasons Western Conference final. 

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