Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gardiner golden in game two

This Kelowna Rockets playoff blog is brought to you by Veranda Beach. Looking for a great summer vacation? Veranda Beach is located on the shores of Lake Osoyoos in Oroville, Washington. Book today by going to

  • The Kelowna Rockets haven't lost back to back games in three months. They weren't about to let it happen Saturday night in game two of the Western Conference Champion series with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Reid Gardiner took a pass from Calvin Thurkauf, who stripped Seattle forward Keegan Kolesar of the puck, quickly swooped in and scored less than 5 minutes into overtime in a 4-3 victory. It was Gardiner's 15th goal of the playoffs and second of the game. It was a fitting end for a team that should have frankly won the game late in the third period with several glorious scoring chances. The only thing standing in the Rockets way was T-Birds goaltender Carl Stankowski, who saved his best for last with several sensational stops to keep the score tied at 3. The win evens the series at one win apiece with games three and four back at Prospera Place Tuesday and Wednesday night.
  • While Stankowski was making several sensational saves to send the game into overtime, veteran goaltender Michael Herringer answered the bell with several solid stops of his own. What we witnessed in game two was Herringer 'locked in', with his rebound control significantly better and his battle to find pucks through traffic at an elite level. That wasn't the case in game one. Had he been more himself in the opener, my belief is the Rockets would be heading home up two games to none. If I look at the scoring chances in the opening two games, Stankowski is being forced to make larger saves. Dillon Dube with a point blank chance in the second period in game two. Tomas Soustal with a partial breakaway and Calvin Thurkauf with a clear cut breakaway are just three examples where the Calgary resident has come up large. Herringer has not faced one breakaway in the two games which tells you how good the team is playing on the defensive side of the puck.
  • Gardiner's shorthanded goal late in the first period was his 14th playoff goal. It set a new Kelowna Rockets franchise record, surpassing the old record of 13 goals scored by Jamie Benn in the 2009 post season. Justin Keller (2005) and Jesse Schultz (2003) scored 12 goals in the post season on the way to WHL titles both seasons. Benn holds the franchise record for points in one playoff season with 33 (13+20=33). Gardiner has 27 points in 13 playoff games.
  • Gardiner has a 9 game playoff point streak with 25 points over that stretch. Leon Draisaitl, by comparison, had an 8 game playoff point streak in 2015.  Calvin Thurkauf, who has a 5 game playoff point streak, collected four assists in game two. Thurkauf has 5+8=13 in those 5 games.
  • After taking only two minor penalties in game one, a lack of discipline was a factor in game two. The Rockets took four of the first five penalties, with Kole Lind's cross checking minor and Michael Herringer's roughing penalty being the worst of the bunch. Those are easily avoidable with better composure. 
  • While the Rockets were able to dominate the late stages of the third period, it was the T-Birds that had a good portion of the play in the second frame. The T-Birds had sustained pressure inside the Rockets zone for large portions, yet when the dust had settled, the shots were only 8-5 for the home team. 
  • Seattle Thunderbird beat writer Andy Eide had this gem following game two. Five times in this series, a goal has been scored in the final 30 seconds of a period. In game one, Kole Lind scored with 7 seconds left in the 1st period. Alexander True tied the score at two with a goal with 3 seconds left in the second period. T-Birds d-man Ethan Bear would score the game winner with 12 seconds left in game one. In game two, Reid Gardiner scored a shorthanded goal with 1 second left in the first period before Kole Lind fired home a power play goal with 25 seconds left in the second period. 
  • Seattle's loss last night snapped a winning streak of 9 straight playoff games. The team came within two victories of the Edmonton Oil Kings impressive mark of 11-0-0-0 to start a playoff in 2012.  The Calgary Hitmen went 12-0-0-0 in the 2009 playoffs before losing to.....the Kelowna Rockets.       
  • In 12 of the last 17 playoff games between the Rockets and T-Birds, the game has been decided by one goal. In those 17 playoff games, dating back to the 2013 post season, 7 of those games have been decided in overtime. The Rockets are 3 and 4 in those 7 overtime games. 
  • The Rockets have scored 4 of 8 goals on the power play in the first two games. The T-Birds have scored 3 of  8 goals with the extra man. Of the 8 goals scored, the Rockets have manufactured 4 at even strength while Seattle has 5 even strength goals. 
  • The Rockets are 4 for 13 (30.8%) on the power play in the series while the T-Birds are 3 for 7 with the extra man (42.9%). Seattle has surrendered a shorthanded goal against.
  • Which T-Bird has impressed me the most in the opening two games? Sami Moilanen has looked really effective and plays a skilled yet non passive game despite being just 5 foot 8. I have always liked Turner Ottenbreit, who always plays a heavy game.  

No comments: