Thursday, March 2, 2017

Herringer $$ in fight for 1st (Marissa Baecker photo)
  • Michael Herringer was money. The 21 year-old was the main reason why the Kelowna Rockets were able to earn a 5-1 win Wednesday night over the visiting Prince George Cougars. Herringer, who has had more downs than ups this season, made no less than four of five alarm saves in the opening 20 minutes to keep it a score-less tie. Out-shot 14-6 in the first period, the Rockets, who looked sluggish from the opening puck drop, scored four straight goals in the second period in the teams 38th win of the season. Calvin Thurkauf scored twice while Dillon Dube added a goal and an assist, as the Rockets moved within 4 points of the first place Cougars in the BC Division. 
  • As mentioned, Herringer allowed his team to find their rhythm after the Cougars dominated the play in the opening frame. Was it any wonder that the overager was that good on this particular night? It was a year ago - to the day - that Herringer was publicly declared the starter after the team announced that Jackson Whistle was being shutdown for the season with double hip surgery.  
  • The downfall for the visitors was their anemic power play. They had two chances to score in the first period when Reid Gardiner made separate trips to the penalty box, but the highly skilled Cougars couldn't convert.  The Rockets, who own the 5th best power play unit in the league, went to work and scored the opening goal before Nick Merkley added his team leading 12th power play goal of the season to make it 4-0. The Cougars would unravel emotionally as the game went sideways, including forward Jesse Gabrielle going to the penalty box three times for: charging, and twice for slashing. 
  • Kyle Topping's 2-0 goal was one to like. The 17 year-old skated hard to the net with Cougars captain Sam Ruopp all over him. The rookie wasn't deterred, staying in front of the goaltender as teammate Rodney Southam's sharp angle pass from the right corner appeared to glance off of Topping's skate and past goaltender Ty Edmonds. It was Topping's 13th goal of the season and third goal in three games. Topping had a goal in Seattle and another one in a 10-1 romp over the Edmonton Oil Kings last week.
  • Tip of the cap to assistant coach Travis Crickard for using 4 forwards on a 4 on 3 power play in the second period. The unit moved the puck around and created good look after good look before Nick Merkley fired home his 23rd of the season. The 19 year-old is now two goals shy of his career high 25 goals that he scored as a 16 year-old rookie.   
  • The Rockets went 4-4-0-0 against the Cougars in the seasonal series, winning the last four meetings after losing the first four match-ups.The Cougars power play went just 10% in the eight games against a Rockets penalty killing unit that was 36 for 40. Assistant Coach Kris Mallette take a bow.
  • What is the Rockets commitment level to winning at this point of the season? Tomas Soustal blocked a first period shot and had to leave the game. The 19 year-old was willing to awkwardly step into a point shot when the Cougars were swarming the net with the game still scoreless. Soustal never returned after the opening period.        
  • Calvin Thurkauf has 9-multiple goal games this season. The 19 year-old leads the team in goals with 32. 
  • Captain Rodney Southam extended his point streak to 7 games with an assist. The 20 year-old now has 97 career points.
  • Reid Gardiner had two assists and is now 3 points shy of 250 for his career. Gardiner also had the 4th highest ice time with 21;01. 
  • The Rockets now get set for the second to last road game of the regular season on Friday in Everett. Then it is back at home for a 6 game home stand against the high flying Tri City Americans, who have won 7 straight.

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