|Photo - Rob Wallator|
- The Red Deer Rebels are a good looking team. When fatigued, the Kelowna Rockets are not. Plain and simple, the visiting team that showed up last night at the Enmax Centrium was nowhere close to how they typically play when more gas is in the tank. The end result was a clear indicator of who was fresh and who was road weary. 7-0. It wasn't even close. I don't want to take anything away from the Rebels, who are solid and well coached, but this had blowout written all over it before the puck was even dropped. The Rockets were playing game 5 of a 6 game in 9 night road trip that had the team travel through the night - twice. The 13 hour bus trip from Portland to Prince George had fatigue written all over it, but only a day between games in 'Cougar Country' on Wednesday and Friday's game in Red Deer compounded matters. An 8 hour excursion from Prince George to Edmonton with little time to recover had the road team at a distinct disadvantage. Bus sleep is not bed sleep. Sorry, it is not. And yes, teenagers are affected as much as adults despite the misconception that players between the ages of 16 and 20 are invincible. Mental fatigue was clearly evident last night when the Rockets surrendered two shorthanded goals. That was a real indicator of how this road trip has taken its toll. The team lost for the 4th straight time and are now 1-3-1-0 on the swing, with the lone win coming in game one, when the team was fresh after a 3-1 victory in Seattle.
- The Rockets have been shut out three times this season and twice in the last four games. The team lost 3-0 in Portland on Saturday.
- The opening 10 minutes were relatively even, and the hope was the Rockets could grind through the game by getting an odd bounce and keep it close. The Rebels made sure that didn't happen by scoring a shorthanded goal to take a 1-0 lead. The rout was on. The Rebels had more jump. More energy. The passing was crisper. The execution was superior and the home teams best players made a massive impact. All three of the Rebels 20 year-old's scored. In fact, seven different player hit the score-sheet with goals as they rolled to their 8th straight home ice win.
- Head Coach Adam Foote changed goaltenders, replacing James Porter with Roman Basran, but when their is no gas in the tank, pull as hard as you want on the recoil starter rope, the lawn mower ain't starting. I don't blame the coach for making the move to get a spark. Why wouldn't he?
- It's been a rough road trip for the Rockets top players. With only 8 goals in the last 5 games, if Kyle Topping, Leif Mattson and Nolan Foote aren't scoring, the teams lack of depth really shows. Topping has points in only two of the five games on this trip. Mattson has just two assists in the five games while Nolan Foote has one goal. I am not blaming these players, I am just stating the fact that if fresh, those offensive numbers would be considerably better as that trio would be making a far greater impact in the game.
- Love the Enmax Centrium. Such a terrific place to call a game. Excellent sight lines. One of the best junior rinks on the circuit. The 52 steps to get to the broadcast booth is painful, but the location to call the games is well worth the hike.
- Tip of the hat to the PA announcer in Red Deer. Really like his delivery on the goal scoring summary announcements. Never over the top crazy when the home team scores or sounding like his dog died when announcing the Rockets goals, he kept it right in the middle and sounded like a true pro. Small detail, but terrifically executed.
- Rockets are back in Edmonton for tonight's final game of the road trip. The hockey club has traveled an astonishing 2,998 kilometers to this point. The Oil Kings own the best power play unit in the WHL on home ice. The key is to stay out of the box. The task becomes even harder when your legs are sluggish and your body won't move to pucks as quickly as if you were fresh. Staying out of the box will be pivotal for the Rockets to end off the road trip on a positive note.
- We are on the air this afternoon at 5 pm from Rogers Place with the Kelowna Rockets This Week. Typically recorded, we will do the show live with special guest Jeff Finley. Finley is a former Kelowna Rockets assistant coach and now has the pleasure of watching his 16 year-old son play in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs. Talk to you at 5 pm Pacific Standard time.