Saturday, January 28, 2017

Too many men on ice penalty proves costly

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • The Kelowna Rockets have been shorthanded a WHL high 265 times this season. That is tough to swallow. It is almost hard to fathom considering the Rockets are not a rough and tumble team that uses intimidation to wear down the opposition. What is hard to stomach is the team has also been shorthanded a Canadian Hockey League high 265 times. That is one statistic you never want to be leading in....ever. The Rockets penalty killing unit killed off 8 straight power plays, including a two man advantage, but ended up losing 3-2 Friday night to the visiting Kamloops Blazers. It was the bench minor penalty for too many men on the ice which gave the visitors that game changing 9th power play chances. It was on that power play that Blazers forward Rudolfs Balcers found the back of the net by picking up a rebound on a shot from the top of the left face-off circle from teammate Deven Sideroff. It was Balcers second goal of the game and 8th in the seasonal series for the rookie whiz kid. It was the Rockets 5th loss against the Blazers in 8 attempts this season and puts them 5 points in the rear view mirror in the fight for second place in the BC Division. The loss also puts them into a two way tie for third with the Victoria Royals, who were a 3-1 winner Friday night in Vancouver. 
  • Scoring the first goal is always important. For the 2016-2017 edition of the Kelowna Rockets it is pivotal. The numbers don't lie. The team has lost only twice when scoring the opening goal in 22 opportunities this season. When they don't, the team has only 8 wins 27 attempts. In Friday's loss, the Rockets surrendering the opening goal 90 seconds into the opening face-off. The Blazers had an answer every time the Rockets tied the score. The scores broke down this way: 1-0 (Blazers), 1-1, 2-1 (Blazers), 2-2 and ended 3-2 (Blazers).
  • While Blazers goaltender Connor Ingram received the second star in the building, I thought Michael Herringer made the more crucial saves. Herringer's stop on Lane Bauer on a two-on-one in the second period when the Blazers were leading 2-1 was massive. Herringer then stopped Deven Sideroff on a breakaway in the third period to keep the score tied at two. Ingram was good, but not spectacular in the one goal win. 
  • Nick Merkley was arguably the Rockets best skater with Calvin Thurkauf a close second. Merkley was buzzing and was a 'working bee' which makes him downright dangerous any time he is on the ice. Thurkauf too was noticeable and extended his point streak to career high 7 games with a goal and an assist. Sadly, outside of those two forwards, many of the Rockets big guns were pretty quiet. The line of Dillon Dube, Tomas Soustal and Kole Lind combined for only three shots on goal. I thought Cal Foote and Lucas Johansen had good games on the back end. Foote was a -2, but don't let that fool you. Foote logged the most ice time of any skater with over 27 minutes.
  • Sadly, the Rockets dominated the territorial play. At one point they had 13 consecutive shots on net after the Blazers took a 5-0 advantage on the shot clock to start the game.
  • The Rockets are now 9-11-0-0 against the BC Division, with almost half of those losses coming against the Blazers. For whatever reason, the Blazers know how to beat the Rockets, or are they beating themselves with excessive trips to the penalty box?  
  • The Blazers are averaging 6 power play chances per game against the Rockets so far this season. Of the penalties taken Friday night, three were for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass while two minor penalties were handed out for too many men on the ice. Losing the game when the linesman makes the call for too many men added even more salt in the wound at games end. 

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