|Cal Foote - Shoot the Breeze Photo|
- Early pressure, solid goaltending and a little controversy added up to a Tri City American 5-0 win over the Kelowna Rockets last night in game one of their Western Conference quarter final series. Let's start with the early pressure. The Rockets fired 19 shots at the Americans net in the opening period but came away empty handed. Had it not been for 20 year-old goaltender Patrick Dea's early exploits, the home team could have been up 3-0 instead of down 1-0 after 20 minutes. It was the Rockets best period of the three as the game went downhill after that. The Americans scored three power play goals in a span of 2:22 and the visitors walked away with a win at Prospera Place for the first time in 21 games. Yep, 21 games. The Americans had lost 15 consecutive regular season games at Prospera Place and five more in the post season. Add it up. That is 20 straight losses.
- How about the controversy? It went down when Rockets forward Dillon Dube went around Americans defenceman Jake Bean and quickly cut hard towards the goal with the puck. In an attempt to score, Dube, with the help of Bean, slammed into Tri City goalie Patrick Dea, knocking not only the goaltender down but knocking the net off its supports. Clearly a goaltender interference penalty was going to be called. Everyone in the building knew it was coming. What no one expected was Dube receiving a 5 minute major and game misconduct for charging and the Western Conference all-star was ejected from the game. The majority of the 51 hundred fans in the building were not happy. Rockets Head Coach Jason Smith was sour. The Americans would score two of three goals on the ensuing power play and it was lights out in game one.
- I can see a charging major if Dube losses the puck and crashes into the goaltending at a high rate of speed with reckless abandon. But Dube had the puck on his blade through the entire sequence. Did Dube crash into Dea at a high rate of speed? Yes he did. Is Dube one of the fastest players in junior hockey? Umm....ya! Plus, Jake Bean, beaten to the outside by Dube, did make contact with the speedy forward and only exasperated the problem by pushing him into Dea. Why was that not taken into account?
- The Americans top players made a significant difference. Leading point getter Morgan Geekie had 2+1=3 while marquee forward Michael Rassmussen matched that with two goals and one assist. The real shocker was the 2-0 goal that came off the blade of Isaac Johnson, who had 17 goals this season. When Johnson is scoring, that is a bonus goal at this time of the year.
- Speaking of the Johnson goal, it all came about after a face-off win. How many goals did the Americans score when puck possession was acquired courtesy of a face-off victory? That needs to improve in game two.
- Let me state, the Dube ejection, despite what many fans want to believe, was not the game breaking play that sent the Rockets boat sinking to the bottom of the lake. The call did break the game open, but it was NOT the reason why the home team lost. In my opinion, when the score was 2-0, the Rockets had three consecutive power play chances in the second period and didn't score. I thought that sealed their fate. Even one goal would have made such a difference that Dube's power move towards the net in desperation to get the Rockets on the board wasn't required.
- It was the first time this season the Rockets were shutout. The last playoff shutout loss at home came against the Americans in 2010, when Drew Owsley made 24 saves in a 2-0 victory.
- Don't be too concerned with the 5-0 loss in game one. Look no further than the 2016 post season when the Rockets lost game 6 (4-0) to Kamloops and came back and won game 7 in overtime.
- Game two is Saturday night. The reason why game two isn't tonight? Hedley plays at Prospera Place, so both teams have an extra 24 hours to reflect on what happened in game one.