Thursday, January 19, 2017

Take the point and run

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Calvin Thurkauf was the best player on the ice in the third period. The 19 year-old was dominant at the face-off circle, drew two penalties with his speed and power, scored a goal on a terrific wrist shot to tie the score and blocked two shots late in the period to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately for the Kelowna Rockets, that effort was one of the few bright spots in a lackluster 3-2 overtime loss last night to the Moose Jaw Warriors. Honestly, I would walk away from that game with a smile on my face if I was the home team. Looking flat after three emotionally filled games on the road, the power play couldn't score a goal in seven opportunities, which included two 5 on 3's. On this night the power play could have saved them. It simply let them down. Brayden Burke scored the game winner with an innocent looking wrister from just inside the blue-line that beat Michael Herringer for the game winner. The overtime point moves the Rockets within a single point of the Blazers in the battle for second place in the BC Division.
  • It was nice to see Geordie Ballhorn back in the lineup. After missing 21 games, Ballhorn showed a little 'rink rust' but almost scored the opening goal when his wrister handcuffed Warriors goaltender Brody Willms. Willms, I thought,  played extremely well for the visitors with some timely saves including a beauty in the third period. Rockets alumni Jordon Cooke was always good at making the timely saves, the stops you look back at and say to yourself, "Had he not kept that puck out, the complexion of the game would have changed". Willms did that for the Warriors and deserved a star in the building.  
  • Nick Merkley opened the scoring for the Rockets with a wrap around goal in the second period to make it 2-1. Merkley appeared to make the wrong decision when he skated with speed inside the Warriors zone and had beaten a Warriors d-man to the outside for a glorious scoring chance. Instead of cutting towards the net, which appeared to be the obvious decision, Merkley surprised everyone in the building by skating with the puck behind the net and wrapping the puck around the goal, beating Willms to the far post. It was Merkley's 11th goal of the season. It was Merkley's second goal in 11 games.  
  • I thought Brett Howden was the Warriors best skater. I love his power move in overtime where he attempted to beat a defender one-on-one. Howden's power play goal with a quick wrister from the left face-off circle, when he shoots left handed, was impressive. It is far easier to one time the puck from the right face-off dot when left handed, but the Tampa Bay Lightning first round pick was able to fire it home despite it being in an awkward position for him to rip it home.
  • The Rockets have struggled against what is considered a poor East Division this season. The team has lost home games to Saskatoon, Swift Current and now earned only a single point against the Warriors. The team has beaten visiting Prince Albert but also had to use overtime in a home ice win against Regina.  
  • The Rockets played the game without forward Reid Gardiner. Gardiner was hurt after colliding with teammate Calvin Thurkauf Monday in Everett. I spoke to Gardiner, who told me he is feeling good and won't be out long term. 
  • Despite limited duty, I thought the best line early in the game was the fourth line that included Jack Cowell, Kyle Topping and Leif Mattson. That trio had some 'pop' in their game. Topping returning to the line-up after missing 6 games with an injury. 

1 comment:

pfwood said...

One of the few games we have watched where we wondered when are the Rockets going to show up.