Sunday, November 11, 2018

Cinderella start ends in Portland

Keith Dwiggins Photo
  • You had to know the Cinderella start for new head coach Adam Foote would eventually end. The glass slipper would eventually fall off his Foote. Sorry, I had to go there. After leading the Kelowna Rockets to four straight wins after taking over from Jason Smith, things went sideways last night in a 3-0 loss to the Portland Winterhawks. The Winterhawks, winners of four straight games, showed why they again are one of the top teams in the Western Conference this season. While lacking scoring depth, head coach Mike Johnston is able to ride skilled players like Joachim Blichfeld and Cody Glass when a goal is needed. Those two have tremendous chemistry and appear to be able to turn the switch on and off when it comes to generating scoring chances. Both play a ton. Blichfeld and Glass each had 1+2=3 in the shutout win before a big crowd of over 77 hundred at the Moda Center. The two teams do it all over again today, this time at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the rematch. It only seems fitting to play in the old barn with this being November 11th - Remembrance Day! 
  • While Blicheld and Glass were establishing offensive dominance, the Rockets top point producers were relatively quiet. It may have been a case of not having the puck much and being forced to play defense the majority of the night. The Winterhawks had the puck a lot and the Rockets were often seen skating in an attempt to get it back. Kyle Topping had his 12 game point streak snapped while Nolan Foote saw his 6 game goal scoring streak come to an end. With Topping and Foote essentially nullified in the attacking zone, Winterhawks goalie Shane Farkas made just 26 saves in likely his easy shutout of his career. 
  • The Rockets were not shut out last season on the road. The team hadn't been shut out on opposition ice since a 6-0 loss in Kamloops on February 8, 2017. 
  • Down 2-0 in the second period, the Rockets had a chance to get back in the game when the Winterhawks took two penalties to give the visitors a 5 on 3 power play. Instead of scoring though, Kyle Topping took a tripping penalty on the ensuing face-off only four seconds later and the chance of making it a one goal game was quickly erased.
  • Who was the best Rockets forward? I thought Erik Gardiner was the most engaged and had a good shot block on a Portland power play.
  • For the first time this season we saw a team given two penalties in the same game for embellishment. Joachim Blichfeld was lite on his skates in the second period and Cody Glass went down easily in the third period. Someone has clearly complained to the WHL head office about the Winterhawks players trying to fool the referee's by slipping on banana peels on the ice. It also comes with the territory when you own the best power play unit in the league and have been granted the most chances (99) with the extra man. 
  • It was nice to chat with Don Hay before the game. One of my favourite coaches to interview, I've always been a fan of the 64 year-old, who has turned back time by staying in great physical shape. Always engaging, it seems odd to see him as an assistant coach at the WHL, but I am glad he is able to do something he enjoys. I will admit it is odd seeing him behind the Winterhawks bench and not making the primary decisions, but instead providing a helping to head coach Mike Johnston. Hay didn't hide the fact that this season is a trial period to see if he likes the job. One thing is clear, Hay is with an awfully good organization in one of the best cities on the circuit.   
  • Love the Moda Center. Absolutely love it. It is really a big game venue. It has the feeling of pro written all over it. And it should considering it is the home of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. The Winterhawks should feel blessed to play a game in that wonderful building, that always has unmatched energy with 77 hundred fans enjoying the game experience and letting go of their inhibitions. On some night's, the score-clock, which is as big as a house, is often the star. If you have a zit on your nose, the clarity of that video screen at the Moda Center would show it. 
  • I count 18 scouts that the Portland Winterhawks employee. 18! That isn't normal. The Winterhawks must have the biggest stable of eyes looking for talent on the 22 team circuit. Whoever is the European scout, you may take a bow sir!          
  • We will talk to you on the radio this afternoon at 4:30 pm with the pre-game show. It is an early start this afternoon. The last 72 hours have been start times of 7:35 in Seattle (Friday), 6:05 pm in Portland (Saturday) and now 5:05 pm (Sunday). 

1 comment:

PNWHockey said...

Great seeing you Sunday visiting at the Booster Club tables.
We know “someone” took up most all your time to visit with the rest of us.
Anyway ...
For the Winterhawks the weekend ended up with “back-to-back” wins.
It was and is always “exciting” and a great experience for the teams to play in the “Rose Garden” (now the Moda Center)
But, as you say it was so appropriate to play at “our home” tonight on “Remembrance” (Veteran’s) Day in the “Glass Palace,” the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. A special place with a special history of over 40 years for the Winterhawks.
Well, anyway, we will be coming up to Kelowna Saturday, March 2 thru March 4, for another rematch with a bus load of Booster Club Members.
Win or Lose, we Love Kelowna, as we Love all the Canadian teams making the long trip into Portland. Wins are just the “Icing on the Cake!” Safe travels home!