Sunday, October 29, 2017

Porter propels Rockets to home ice win

Shoot the Breeze Photography

  • Goaltender James Porter was the best player on the Kelowna Rockets power play. That my friends is not good. Your goalie should be a non-factor in that situation as he watches the play develop from the other end of the ice. Not on this night though. In a 4-2 win over the Prince George Cougars Saturday night, the 17 year-old bailed out the power play several times by making breakaway saves.  Porter's best stop came when Brogan O'Brien was awarded a penalty shot while shorthanded in the second period. Porter, while committing early on O'Brien's backhand attempt, he was able to kick his left leg out hard enough to dislodge the puck from O' Brien's blade. Then in the third period, with the Rockets holding a 4-2 lead, Porter faced Cougars forward Cody McDonald on a shorthanded breakaway and again came up large. The best player on the ice for both teams, Porter was the main reason why the Rockets were able to extend their winning streak to three games. 
  • The Cougars were the better team in the first eight minutes but it would be the Rockets that would score the opening goal. Second year forward Leif Mattson made a nice move with the puck at the blue-line and showed tremendous finish in helping the Rockets to a 1-0 lead. Mattson, who has been elevated to a top six forward role has goals in three straight games. From there the game was fairly even, with both teams having a hard time executing passes. Anything in excess of 10 feet resulted in a pass either being too far in front, behind or in the skates of the recipient. Tape-to-tape passes were hard to come by in this game and both teams struggled mightily in that department. 
  • While Leif Mattson is elevating his play after being hurt opening night against Kamloops, second year forward Kyle Topping is also having a solid campaign. Topping scored his 7th goal of the season last night and is now halfway to the 14 goals he scored in 59 games in his rookie season. The thought was several second year players would make significant contributions offensively this season and Mattson and Topping have done that. Surprisingly the quietest of the bunch has been Nolan Foote. Foote has only three goals in 14 games and is the beneficiary of power play time. While his stick has yet to get hot, the good news is the still 16 year-old (November 29th birthday) is shooting the puck more and should average five shots on goal per game. With a wicked release, the younger Foote should be firing it every chance he gets. Remember, he scored 19 goals last season and was named the Rockets rookie of the year. 
  • The Rockets hit two goal posts when Dillon Dube rang one off the bar and defenceman Braydyn Chizen also hit the pipe with a third period blast from the blue line. 
  • The good news about this three game winning streak is it hasn't been all about Kole Lind and Dillon Dube. While threats every time they have the puck, the two marquee forwards haven't been carrying the offensive mail. Lind has 1 goal in his last 8 games while Dube has two goals in his last 8 contests. If those two were doing all the scoring, which frankly they were at the start of the season, it would be concerning. It is nice to see others chipping in for the greater good of the team. I will take a diversified attack over a one trick pony. At the end of the day, Dube and Lind have to be on the score-sheet for the team to have long term success, but secondary sources of offensive is a welcome sign. 
  • Kole Lind reached the 100 assist mark with Kyle Topping's second period goal.
  • Carsen Twarynski, who has scored goals in three straight games, now leads the team with 9 this season. The 20 year-old also played in his 200th career game last night.  
  • A solid four game home stand for the Rockets concluded Saturday night. The team picked up 6 out of a possible 8 points with wins over Portland, Tri City and Prince George. Now the team opens November with a three game road trip this week with stops in Tri City (Wednesday) and back-to-back games in Victoria this weekend. Are the Rockets for real? While it is only five weeks into the season, this upcoming road trip will tell us a lot about how good this team appears to be.  

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