Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rockets/Blazers game 3 preview

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Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play game three of an opening round playoff series when they face the Kamloops Blazers. The Rockets have a 2-0 series lead after a 4-0 win in game one and a 3-2 victory in game two. Games three and four are tonight and Wednesday in Kamloops with game five (if necessary) in Kelowna Friday night. Here is a quick recap of the first two games.

Game 1: Carsen Twarynski scored twice leading the Rockets to a 4-0 win. Tomas Soustal and Reid Gardiner added singles while rookie Nolan Foote had two assists. Michael Herringer earned the win in goal with a 15 save performance. The Rockets were 2/4 on the power play and a perfect 3 for 3 on the penalty kill. Overall, the Rockets out-shot the Blazers 48-15.

Game 2: Dillon Dube scored two-third period goals in the Rockets 3-2 win. The Rockets built up a 3-0 lead on goals from Cal Foote and a shorthanded and power play goal from Dube. Michael Herringer was the first star with a terrific performance. The Rockets were 1 for 6 on the power play while going 4 for 5 on the penalty kill. The Rockets out-shot the Blazers 37-35.

Playoff Pondering: Michael Herringer has been named the WHL Goalie of the Week. Herringer was 2-0-0-0 on the weekend, posting a goals against average of 1.00 and a save percentage of .960….The Rockets are 1-4-0-0 in their last 5 playoff games at Sandman Centre. The Rockets only win in Kamloops in last year’s playoff series was in game three, but the game was played at Memorial Arena. The last time the Rockets won a playoff game at Sandman Centre was in game four of an opening round series in 2009. The date was March 25, 2009 in a 5-3 win. Jamie Benn had 1+3=4 in the victory….The Rockets are attempting to advance to  the Western Conference final for a fourth straight season…The Portland Winterhawks went to the Western Conference final 5 consecutive seasons (2010-2015). 

Season in Review: The Rockets finished in 2nd place in the BC Division with 95 points this season. That was one point shy of Prince George in the fight for a BC Division banner. The team was 45-22-5-0, which was good for 6th place in the overall WHL standings. The team scored the third most goals in the WHL (283) and tied with Seattle for the 4th fewest goals against. The team scored 14 more goals and allowed 12 fewer against than in 2015-2016. The Rockets had the third best power play in the WHL and the 9th best penalty killing unit. Cal Thurkauf led the team in goals with 33. Kole Lind had a team high 57 assists while Lind was the scoring leader with 87 points.  Nick Merkley led the team with 12 power play goals. Cal Foote had a team high +39 rating. Rodney Southam had a team leading 121 penalty minutes.

Rockets Award Winners: General Manager Bruce Hamilton has been named the Western Conference nominee for Executive of the Year. Hamilton won the award back in 1991-1992 with the Tacoma Rockets and in 2002-2003. Forward Kole Lind was named a Western Conference 2nd team all-star. At the teams annual year end awards, Calvin Thurkauf was the MVP, Cal Foote was the Top Defenceman and Nolan Foote was the Rookie of the Year.  The Unsung Player of the Year was Devante Stephens while the Most Improved Player was Kole Lind. Lind had 46 more points than he had a season prior.

Reaping Reward of New Recruits: Reid Gardiner played in 28 regular season games with the Rockets after being acquired at the WHL trade deadline. The 21 year-old was held off the scoresheet just three times and collected 18+19=37 in 28 games. Carsen Twarynski, also acquired at the deadline, had 7+15=22 in 28 regular season games after his acquisition from the Calgary Hitmen.  If you follow the bouncing ball, the Rockets essentially obtained Twarynski for Joe and Danny Gatenby.     

That’s a fact Jack: …The Rockets have now won 20 or more road games in five consecutive seasons. The last time they failed to hit 20 wins was in 2011-2012 when they won 15 games away from Prospera Place…The Rockets have generated 30 or more shots in 30 of their last 34 games….The Kelowna Rockets lost 10 of their first 21 regular season games. Since then, the team has 12 losses in the last 52 games… In the Rockets last 13 losses (regulation or overtime loss) the opposition has opened the scoring…The Rockets are 22-7-2-0 since the trade deadline….The Rockets have 6 players on their roster from the 2015 WHL championship team. 

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

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