|Shoot the Breeze Photograph|
- Home ice is proving to be a massive advantage in the first three games of the Kelowna Rockets opening round playoff series with the Kamloops Blazers. Lane Bauer scored twice in a 4-1 win last night at Sandman Centre, in what was a three goal second period for the home team. The Rockets still lead the series 2 games to 1, but game four is looming large tonight as the two teams meet for the 4th time in 6 days. I thought the Blazers had slightly more jump in game three and carried that throughout the game. But the Rockets were in great shape in a 1-1 tie before the Blazers broke the game open in the second period with two goals in a span of :28 seconds. Giving up two goals in that short time period, against two evenly matched teams, is hard to come back from. It is deflating both mentally and emotionally and you could see the Rockets sag. It wasn't Jermaine Loewen's game winning goal that made the difference in my opinion. It was Rudolfs Balcers penalty shot goal 28 seconds after that essentially put the game on ice.
- The penalty shot goal. If you didn't think Balcers deserved a penalty shot opportunity, you are blind. It was a clear a penalty shot call as you will find. No grey area here. Balcers made no mistake by firing a high shot, glove hand side, on Michael Herringer to make the score 3-1. If I'm Herringer, I would cheat glove hand side on the 40 goal man every time. I swear, of the 8 goals Balcers scored against Herringer during the regular season, the majority where up high, top glove. I was wondering when the 19 year-old Balcers was going to start playing in this series. He was a no-show in games one and two.
- Jermaine Loewen was at his agitating best. Is he that much of a pest that the Rockets can't but pay attention to him? It all started when Loewen delivered a late hit to Calvin Thurkauf, in the first period, inside the Rockets zone when a pass went awry for icing. After that hit, the Rockets paid far too much attention to him, including Dillon Dube taking a run at him in an effort to knock him on his rear end. One of two things should happen tonight. Rodney Southam fights him early in the game, or if Loewen isn't willing, pay little to no attention to him. Save your energy and use it in other ways.
- The Rockets had their fair share of scoring chances in the game, but according to the Kelowna Rockets analytics team, the shot clock wasn't exactly true. The Rockets had 23 shots on net, not the 38 that were shining brightly on the Sandman Centre shot clock. If that indeed is true, 23 shots on net won't win you too many games against elite goaltending. In game four, the Rockets must find a way to get secondary shots on goal and do a better job of finding shooting lanes in an effort for those shot attempts not to be blocked.
- How about some cup half full comments? It was nice to see Kole Lind score his first career playoff goal. It took him 26 playoff games to find the back of the net, but his nice wrister to the low corner was a beauty and tied the score at 1. Lind must be a factor in this series. The scouts are watching.
- I thought it was a solid game from Michael Herringer. In a building that hasn't exactly been kind to the 21 year-old goalie, I thought Herringer was dialed in and made several solid stops. Of the four goals he surrendered, he had no chance on the 2 on 1 goal. The penalty shot goal is a great shot on a one on one situation. Lane Bauer's second goal of the game is a point blank wrister when Rockets rookie Nolan Foote delivers a perfect pass on Bauer's tape on a turnover inside the defensive zone. The only goal in question was Loewen's weak backhander that somehow found the back of the net.
- What have we learned here? The home team has won all three games.The team that scores first has won all three games. The team with the lead heading into the third period has won all three games. What's the key tonight? Obtaining all three I suppose.
- On a side note, it was nice to see Blazers Athletic Therapist Colin Robinson recognized before last night's game by the WHL for his 1,500th game earlier this season. Even Richard Doerksen was on hand to present 'Toledo' with the award.
- Gord McGarva will join me tonight for game four on AM 1150. We have the pre-game show at 6:30 and the play-by-play at 7:05.