Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rockets rally on road vs. Royals

Carsen Twarynski - Jonathon Howe photo
  • The Kelowna Rockets penalty killing unit had an extremely good night. The Victoria Royals power play? Not so much! Despite allowing the Royals eight power play chances, including a double minor to defenceman James Hilsendager less than a minute into the game, the Rockets killed off seven of them in a 4-3 road win. Oddly enough, the Rockets third period rally including a power play goal from Cal Foote, who wired a shot past the blocker side of Royals goaltender Griffin Outhouse. Foote's goal tied the score at three and set the table for Calvin Thurkauf's eventual game winner :38 seconds later. The win, the Rockets 25th of the season, moved them into a two way tie for second place in the BC Division with the idle Kamloops Blazers. The two teams (Rockets/Royals) meet again tomorrow night at Save On Foods Memorial Centre, in a seasonal series that has seen the road team win 3 of the 5 games.
  • Dillon Dube was the best player on the ice. Every time he was out there he was noticeable. The 18 year-old's ability to chase down loose pucks was terrific and the goal he scored was what hockey people like to call, 'a goal scorers goal'. Dube worked to the slot with the puck, out waited Royals defenceman Marsel Ibragimov and then Griffen Outhouse before firing the puck high over the sprawled goaltender.  Dube has come back from the World Junior Hockey Championships loaded with confidence and it shows through his dominant play.
  • One of the more interesting match ups last night was watching Devante Stephens skate against Royals forward Jack Walker. In a battle between two of the best skaters in the Western Conference, 'Devo' didn't lose a step/stride against the quick footed Walker, who can skate as fast with the puck as without it. Again, I am a big fan of Stephens and how he has taken massive strides from the struggles of a season ago. The transformation is a good example of not giving up on a player if he indeed has a bad season.
  • Kole Lind had three assists in what I thought was a quiet game for the teams leading scorer. Having gone a season high 6 games without a goal, the good news is he isn't being relied upon to score like he was in the first three months of the season. Over the first half, Lind was doing the majority of the heavy lifting offensively.
  • A tough night for the goaltenders. I thought Royals netminder Griffen Outhouse, who has been exceptional in the seasonal series, had an off night. You could tell he was really fighting the puck and was overplaying shots. Even a routine blocker save saw the puck spring high in the air and over his head. With the puck in mid-air, Outhouse looked behind himself and used the blade of his stick to swat the puck from entering the net. It may get consideration for the WHL Plays of the Week, but truthfully, a manageable save turned into a fire sale to keep it out. Always a big backer of the goalies, I will point out that Outhouse's best save came against Rockets 20 year-old Reid Gardiner, who attempted to go high glove on the Williams Lake, BC resident from in close, but Outhouse came up large with the second period stop. 
  • Michael Herringer had an off night too. The opening goal he surrendered saw a backhand pass from behind his own net hit teammate Jack Cowell and ricochet in. That is just bad luck and is awfully tough to defend. The Royals power play goal by Ryan Peckford in the second period was stoppable though. Peckford, from in tight, fired the puck into Herringer's body and it squeezed past him on the short side. Bad luck again or preventable goal? I think both would apply here. Herringer's best save came on a point blank stop on Regan Nagy in the second period. Like Herringer's counterpart at the other end, it was a night of ups and downs. 
  • In 7 of Michael Herringer's last 11 starts, the team in front of him has allowed 22 shots or fewer on net. The bottom line is Herringer is benefiting from a team that is really committed to blocking shots and are spending very little time in the defensive zone. 
  • All good things must come to an end including the Royals 18-0-0-0 record when leading after 40 minutes. The Rockets rallied from a 2-1 third period deficit to win the game in regulation time. It was the Rockets 4th win in 19 games when trailing after 2 periods.
  • It was an eventful evening for newcomer Carsen Twarynski. The 19 year-old was noticeable in initiating contact every chance he had. Let's face it, like many teams across the WHL, the Rockets are not an overly physical group. When Twarynski starts hitting people and finishing checks, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I thought he had an effective game and played to his strengths. Assistant Coach Kris Mallette mentioned on our AM 1150 post game show how vocal Twarynski was on the bench and how positive he was verbally with his new teammates. Small detail yes, but worth noting all the same.
  • While the Rockets opening goal was somewhat controversial as the back official called it a goal despite video review showing nothing of the sort, the Royals also got away with one. The back official blew the play dead when Rockets d-man Lucas Johansen fired a shot on goal that Griffen Outhouse stopped, but mishandled, as it went off his catching glove and into the net.  
  • The Rockets are now 9-3-3-0 in one goal games this season. Six of the Rockets last eight games have been one goal games.
  • Cal Foote's power play goal was his first goal in 10 games.
  • Calvin Thurkauf's game winning goal was his 18th of the season. That matches his goal total from all of last season.
  • Captain Rodney Southam has quietly put together a four game point streak. (1+3=4). 
  • Dillon Dube has points in 10 of the 13 games he has played in this season.

No comments: