Sunday, February 25, 2018

Entertaiment value? Close to a 10!!

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • If you didn't like what you witnessed last night at Prospera Place between the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers, you have no junior hockey pulse. Zero. None.What a crazy game. Arguably the wackiest game we've witnessed this season, sadly it took until game #62 to finally come to fruition. It featured a significant lead by one team only to see the other roar back with four straight goals. It had power play goals and a shorthanded goal and then an electric finish with the home team scoring the game winning goal with 2:15 remaining on the clock. Rockets 6 - Blazers 5. If that game was served up as a drink at a local pub, I would be clearly asking for a second and likely a third. The coaches will go away thinking the game was awful. From a purely entertainment perspective, it will go down as one of the best, if not the best of the season.
  • The Rockets built up a 3-0 lead and had the game in total command. In typical Kelowna Rockets fashion, they let down their guard and the Blazers stormed back with four straight goals to take a 4-3 lead. Kamloops had very little in the way of quality offensive chances and looked like a team that indeed had scored the 5th fewest goals in the WHL. Passing was poor and the decision making on odd man rushes was frankly terrible. Blazers head coach Don Hay was often grimacing on the bench with what his team was doing. The execution was off. But once they scored the opening goal, the Blazers skill level peaked and no less than two of their goals - one from Luc Smith and another from Nolan Kneen - made them look like one of the highest scoring teams in the league, not one of the lowest. It was crazy how they transformed into such a different looking team once they realized they had a fighting chance.
  • Where did the game change back in the Rockets favour after letting it slip away? My belief is Leif Mattson's shorthanded goal midway through the third period was the TSN turning point. It not only tied the score but it also stopped a string of four consecutive goals by the Blazers. Mattson's backhand attempt on a partial breakaway was stopped by goaltender Dylan Ferguson, but the puck bounced off defender Joe Gatenby's stick and entered the net. It was Mattson's career high 20th of the season and the teams 13th shorthanded. It tied the score at 4. While the Blazers scored a power play goal 21 seconds later to regain the lead at 5-4, it did seem to give the home team a mental boost that they indeed could fight back.
  • Am I the only one concerned about the number of penalties the team took last night? While some are complaining about the officiating, the number of veteran players that took penalties needs to be addressed. That will kill you in a playoff series. In game #62, the older players have to show more restraint.
  • It was a rough night for the officials. The worst call? Blazers forward Luc Smith gets penalized for goaltender interference late in the second period. It was gross. It really was a pathetic call. Ok, let's move on.
  • Dillon Dube was named the 1st star for the third consecutive game. The 19 year-old had two goals in the win, including the opening goal where he used the new WHL kicking rule to its fullest by shin padding the puck into the net on a goal mouth scramble while literally sitting on his rear end. Dube had 5+3=8  in three games this week. Is that good enough to be named WHL Player of the Week?  
  • The Rockets have been involved in five consecutive one goal games, including three this week with wins over Prince George (6-5), Seattle (5-4) and Kamloops (6-5). While the team has scored 17 goals in those three games, they have also surrendered 14 against. Yikes!
  • The Rockets clinched a playoff spot in Friday's win over Seattle and matched their win total at home from last season (23) by upending the Blazers Saturday night. More importantly, the team moved 7 points up on Victoria for first place in the BC Division with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
  • Did you notice rookie Marek Skrvne take the face-off in the defensive zone in an effort to preserve the win? Impressive. Skrvne won the draw and the Rockets escaped with the one goal victory.
  • The Rockets handed the Blazers their first regulation loss of the season when leading after 40 minutes. Kamloops was 18-0-1-1 when carrying the lead into the third period.
  • The Rocket trailed 4-3 heading into the third period. The win was only the third time they have come back in 20 attempts this season after training after 40 minutes.  
  • What did I think of the rough stuff at the end of the game with Rockets d-man Geordie Ballhorn attempting to nail the puck in the corner as time expired? Would I expect anything less if Blazers forward Jermaine Loewen didn't take an extra run at Ballhorn at the buzzer? Rockets goaltender Brodan Salmond wanted to get his frustration out by leaving his crease and getting into the pile of players that were wanting to scrap. Joe Gatenby was also in the mix in the corner and seemed to be tangled up with Rockets captain Cal Foote. What went on at close quarters was undetectable, but word is Gatenby looked like he was attacked by an alley cat after the two teams went to their respective dressing rooms.
  • The sparks were flying at games end in what can only be described as a junior hockey game that had all the signs of old time hockey. Would I want to see it all the time? No. That said, it was fun to witness on so many levels and we didn't even need a fighting major to keep us entertained. "Hey waiter, can I get another round?"

1 comment:

gk said...

Hey Regan great description of last nights game, it was great entertainment for sure but also Fridays game was just about as entertaining with a couple of fights thrown in for good measure!! I am concerned though about the Rockets inability to hold the lead. All in all a great weekend of hockey, 2 of the best games I've witnessed this season.