Monday, November 6, 2017

No ground gained in fight for 1st

Jonathon Howe photo
  • The Kelowna Rockets entered the weekend eight games back of the Victoria Royals in the fight for first place in the BC Division. The Rockets left the Island with the exact same deficit after splitting a pair of games on the weekend. After beating the Royals 4-2 Friday night, optimism was high to leave Victoria with four points in the bank. The Royals had other plans. The home team scored the first four goals, three of which came in the first period in a 4-2 win. The Rockets made it interesting with goals from Nolan Foote and Leif Mattson, but by then it was a little too late. The loss leaves the Rockets with 8 wins, 6 losses, two overtime losses and one shootout loss after 17 games. Hard to believe Friday's home game has us at the 1/4 point of the season. 
  • Brodan Salmond was back in goal Saturday night. In his first start since October 15th against the Portland Winterhawks, the 19 year-old really couldn't be faulted for the opening three goals. Ryan Peckford picked up a rebound at the side of the net on a booming shot from defenceman Chaz Redikopp to make it 1-0. Dante Hannoun scored on a breakaway on a turnover in the neutral zone to make it 2-0 and then Peckford scored on a nice power move by cutting to the net with the puck and chipping it high over Salmond's blocker side to make it 3-0. I thought Salmond played pretty well, specifically in the third period, as the Rockets rallied. Face it, as good as rookie James Porter has been, he needed a rest and Salmond needed to get a game under his belt. Goaltending wasn't the reason behind the 4-2 loss. Generating offense was.
  • The team manufactured just 12 shots through two periods and found themselves down 3-0. I am not convinced the Royals were fully responsible for those low totals, but it came from the visitors wanting to pass the puck more for the perfect shot, rather than just shooting it. 
  • I do wonder how the game would have unfolded had the Rockets capitalized on an early power play chance when the game was scoreless. The puck movement and quality chances were there, yet they were unable to find the back of the net. The best scoring chance in the first three minutes came from rookie Liam Kindree. Kindree had Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse down with what appeared to be a wide open net, before shooting the puck only to see the 19 year-old flare out his glove to make a WHL Plays of the Week type of save. Had that scoring chance been successful, how would the game have unfolded? 
  • Rockets rookie Kyle Pow was in the line-up Saturday night. From Nanaimo, Pow had to be excited to be playing after being a healthy scratch in Friday's opener. Despite seeing limited ice time, Pow was involved in his first career WHL scrap when he dropped the gloves with Royals forward Jared Legion.
  • Even really good players make bad decisions. How about Royals leading scorer Mathew Phillips stomping on Rockets forward Kole Lind's stick after a pushing and shoving match in front of the Victoria net? Phillips, who is one of the nicest players you will ever watch, with a personality to match, used his skate to stomp on Lind's stick which was laying helplessly on the ice. Sitting in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, the Rockets scored on the power play to make it a 4-2 game.  
  • A tremendous crowd in Victoria Saturday night. It was 80's night which attracted over 65 hundred fans. The theme night had fans dressed in 80's garb and the music played over the loud speakers in the building were 'locked on the 80's' with some of the best songs of the decade. Tip of the cap to the off-ice staff in Victoria for pulling off a fun event.       
  • The Rockets now get set for four straight games on home ice, starting Friday against the Vancouver Giants. It is followed by a home game Saturday night against visiting Red Deer followed by dates against Edmonton (Tuesday Nov 14th) and Lethbridge (Friday Nov 17th).

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