Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rockets rock Raiders

Dillon Dube - Shoot the Breeze Photo
  • Can one player make a dramatic difference? If that one player is Dillon Dube, the answer is yes. With the 18 year-old injected into the Kelowna Rockets line-up Saturday night against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, the slick skating centreman showed no signs of rink rust. Playing on a line with rookie Nolan Foote and leading scorer Kole Lind, Dube chipped in with three assists in a lopsided 7-1 win. You couldn't but notice Dube out on the ice. His calm demeanour with the puck and his ability to distribute it to his teammates was clearly evident. Dube is a second round NHL draft pick of the Calgary Flames and sure looked like it in his 2016-2017 debut. Dube provided his team with scoring depth and induced a second power play unit that was equally as dangerous as the first. At the end of the night, the Rockets were 4 for 5 on the power play and Dube was named the 2nd star.
  • You had a good feeling this would be a good night in the offensive zone when the Rockets dominated the territorial play for the first 7 minutes of the game. Only Raiders goaltender Ian Scott was keeping it close until Calvin Thurkauf opened the scoring when defenceman Cameron Reagan took a delay of game penalty. Thurkauf ended the night as the first star with a goal and two assists. It was the 18 year-old's third-three point game of the season.
  • Tomas Soustal continues to impress, and frankly he should be showing off every time he is on the ice. If you are a 19 year-old player, you better be doing something special for your team. Soustal delivered with a power play goal of his own and chipped in with two assists. It was Soustal's fifth-multiple game of the season and the power forward has 7 points in his last three games.
  • It was nice to see Jake Kryski have offensive success. How can this guy not be a point a game player? The skill set is there. The finish, often times, is not. That said, the 18 year-old scored twice in Saturday's win for his first-multiple goal game of the season. Heading into last night's tilt, Kryski had just one goal in 13 games. He is far and away a better player to go through such a long dry spell. Let's hope this is the sign of more consistent play from an individual who is far too good not to see his name consistently on the score-sheet.
  • You have to be impressed with Kole Lind. The dude just scores. He doesn't need to be a one man show now that Dillon Dube and Nolan Foote are his line-mates.  Lind went about his business by scoring once and collecting two assists. The sophomore forward now has goals in three straight games as he inches towards the 100 games played mark in the WHL. Lind will reach that milestone next Tuesday in Victoria against the Royals.   
  • Cal Foote scored his first goal of the season with a third period wrister from the right face-off circle. It is hard to imagine that a defenceman with such a great shot has only found the back of the net once this season. But the elder Foote is so good at both ends of the ice, which makes him special. Foote, as NHL scouts can attest, is not a one trick pony. As for his younger brother Does anyone work as hard as Nolan? When it comes to expending energy and being a pain in the *ss to play against, Nolan has to be competing with captain Rodney Southam for top honours. 
  • Speaking of Nolan Foote, the still 15 year-old (turns 16 on November 29th) is going about his business with a four game point streak in his back pocket. He was missed while attending the Under 17's in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and his value to the team can not be understated. I can't think of a single night where I haven't noticed him make a contribution. With 5 points in only 8 WHL career games, the beautiful part of this story is the soft spoken forward is only going to get better.
  • Let's be honest, it was a rough outing for the Raiders. They were chasing the game the majority of the night. They had a glimmer of hope in the second period where they out-shot the home team, but scoring chances were few and far between. Who did I like from a Raiders perspective? Despite giving up 7 goals, defenceman Brendan Guhle clearly is one of the best skating blue liners I've witnessed this season. I also really liked rookie Zach Hayes. The 9th round pick was physical with at least two solid hits and played an inspired game.
  • This was a game the Rockets had to win. No excuses. The Raiders are in the lower portion of the Eastern Conference standings and it was time for the home team to prove that a 10-9-0-0 record is not indicative of the team they have iced over the first 19 games. Every player/coach/scout I've talked with believes the team is better than the record would indicate. I tend to agree, but it sure is nice they can prove it with solid play on the ice.  
  • It was nice to catch up with Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. It was enlightening to spend 15 minutes talking to 'Habber' about his playing career. In 2016, it marks 20 years since Habscheid elected to retire as a player. It is safe to say it was the best interview I have ever conducted with the architect of leading the Kelowna Rockets to a WHL title in 2003 and a Memorial Cup in 2004. The story telling was excellent. You have a chance to listen to it on an upcoming episode of the 'The Kelowna Rockets This Week', which airs Saturday's from 6 pm until 6:30 pm on AM 1150.    
  • It was great being back in the booth for the first time in 4 games. As weird as it may sound, the three hours while calling the game is always and will always be a fulfilling experience. 
  • Up next a date with the first place Prince George Cougars. Tuesday's game is a measuring stick to see if the Rockets indeed are a middle of the pack team or one that is finding its footing after what can only be described as a slow start.  

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