Sunday, November 26, 2017

Basran enters Rockets record books

Roman Basran gets a hug from fellow rookie James Porter- Shoot the Breeze Photo
  • Roman Basran. Welcome to the Kelowna Rockets record books. The rookie goalie received his first career WHL start Saturday night against the Medicine Hat Tigers and delivered a flawless performance in a 4-0 win. Basran became the first 16 year-old, ever, to earn a shutout in his first career start with a 38 save performance. And yes, with a huge smile on his face he accepted the first star award at games end. Basran, a third round bantam pick of the Rockets from 2016, made several sensational saves and had Tigers leading scorer Mark Rassell's number all night long. The 20 year-old forward, who had his 8 game goal scoring streak snapped, often looked to the heavens when denied by the rookie goaltender. 
  • Basran became the first Rockets 16 year-old goaltender to start a game since Josh Lepp way back in the 2001 season. Lepp, a first round bantam pick, also faced 48 shots on October 3, 2001 but his outing didn't go so well. Lepp allowed 7 goals in a 7-5 loss to the Portland Winterhawks.
  • While Basran enters the record books, he isn't the first rookie goalie to earn a win in his first career start. Adam Brown, at the tender age of 17, won his first career start October 11, 2008 against Prince George in a 8-1 win. Brown was forced to make just 11 saves in the victory. Brown started his rookie season with 7 consecutive wins. Impressive. Jordon Cooke, also 17 at the time, made 35 saves in a 4-3 shootout victory in Everett October 10, 2010 in his first career start. Like Basran, both Brown and Cooke both saw game action in a relief appearance prior  to getting their first official start. Basran relieved James Porter in Vancouver in a 6-1 road loss last Saturday.
  • The youngest goalie ever to see game action in a Rockets uniform is Jake Morrissey. On December 16th, 2012, as an emergency call-up, Morrissey entered the game in relief of an injured Jackson Whistle in the third period. Morrissey made 7 of 10 saves in a 6-2 loss to the Calgary Hitmen.  Morrissey was only 15 at the time. 
  • Let's remember, Basran comes with much fanfare. The 16 year-old was a third round bantam pick in 2016, the highest selection the Rockets organization has made at that position since using the 4th overall pick in 2001 to claim Josh Lepp. Lepp, sadly, did not become the goaltender director of player personnel Lorne Frey envisioned. Lepp would be traded away to Red Deer before ending his career in Moose Jaw. Since Josh Lepp, Frey has been shy of taking goalies early in the draft. Jordon Cooke was a 4th round selection in 2008 and appears to be the best goaltender they've ever taken, considering the Leduc, Alberta product was a second team all-star at 19 and a first team Western Conference all-star and WHL goalie of the year at 20. We should also mention Cooke was the CHL goaltender of the year in his final season of major junior hockey.      
  • The Rockets just don't play 16 year-old goalies. They just don't like them on the roster. They are better served playing midget and Basran is no exception. The plan was for the Delta, BC product to start the season in the BCMMHL with the Okanagan Rockets, but those plans went down the toilet when 19 year-old Brodan Salmond was injured. Traditionally older goaltenders are employed by the Kelowna Rockets, with 19 and 20 year-old's being a staple in these parts. Kevin Swanson, Shane Bendera (did not play as a 20 year-old), Kelly Guard, Mark Guggenberger, Kristofer Westblom, Adam Brown, Jordon Cooke, Jackson Whistle and Michael Herringer have all played as overage goalies. In no less than six of the examples above, those goalies were all acquired via trade. Derek Yeomans would have played with the Rockets as a 20 year-old too, but he was dealt to the Seattle Thunderbirds for defenceman Clayton Barthel in a pre-season deal in 2006.
  • Ok, enough about the goaltending. Last night's 4-0 win over the Tigers was a game where Medicine Hat dominated territorally, yet the Rockets were clearly the more opportunistic team. Generating a season low 16 shots on goal, Basran made timely saves, Liam Kindree opened the scoring and the penalty killing unit was nothing short of terrific. The Tigers were granted 7 chances with the man advantage, but the PK unit kept them primarily to the outside. What surprised me was the visitors propensity to feed defenceman David Quenneville on one-timers. I get the fact that the 19 year-old can shoot it a ton, but the Rockets sniffed that play out time and time again and blocked numerous shots that the New York Islanders 7th round draft pick was trying to unload towards the goal. The shot blocking clinic was impressive, especially from Liam Kindree, Connor Bruggen-Cate and James Hilsendager to name a few.
  • Carsen Twarynski's shorthanded goal in the second period was magical. It was a work of art. Watch it on video replay. The just turned 20 year-old scored his team leading 15th goal of the season on a tremendous individual effort. It was a power move that few can pull off. It should be WHL Plays of the Week worthy. Twarynski is 5 goals shy of his career high of 20 set two seasons ago with the Calgary Hitmen. Oh, how about his hit in the third period on Tigers forward James Hamblin? Clean and crushing!!
  • Congratulations to Dillon Dube for hitting the 100 assist mark in his career. The 19 year-old now has points in 8 of his last 10 games and has goals in 5 of his last 6 games. 
  • The Rockets have won 8 consecutive games at Prospera Place. The last loss came back on October 20th in a 3-1 setback to the Portland Winterhawks.
  • The win last night moved the Rockets 7 points up on Vancouver in the fight for second place in the BC Division. The first Royals remain 6 points ahead having played two more games. 

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