Saturday, December 8, 2018

Rockets add separation in 2nd place showdown

Roman Basran - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • They don't ask how. They only ask how many. The Kelowna Rockets picked up their 14th win of the season last night in a 2-0 home ice victory over the visiting Victoria Royals. In likely the dullest game I've ever witnessed between the two BC Division rivals, the Rockets used a third period goal from former Royal Lane Zablocki and then an empty netter from Nolan Foote to hand Victoria its 11th loss in 16 games. More importantly, the Rockets moved four points up on both the Royals and Kamloops Blazers for second place in the BC Division, with both teams holding 6 and 5 games in hand respectively. While Roman Basran made only 16 saves for his second career shutout, the draft eligible goalie had to make two five alarm saves against Dante Hannoun in the first period and against Tyler Lees in the second. 
  • You can't argue with the results. Since a 7-0 shutout loss on November 16th, the team is 6-2-0-1 in their last 9 games. Players. Coaches. Take a bow.  
  • Both goaltenders were named stars in the game.While Basran was the first star, Royals netminder Griffen Outhouse was the second star. Outhouse was solid, but not spectacular in allowing his team a chance to win. I thought both teams struggled to execute. Passing was often off target and decision making was questionable. It almost looked like the final game before the Christmas break as neither team had much jump. Turnovers were common place in the defensive zone and both teams were seen icing the puck with regularity. In a game that featured little in the way of animosity, it came to a close in only 2 hours and 16 minutes.
  • Just typical of how the night went, the game winner came from Lane Zablocki when his centering feed from behind the goal line went off Royals defenceman Mitchell Prowse and behind a startled Griffen Outhouse. It almost appeared that Prowse shot it into his own net. The obvious reaction is for Prowse to move the puck out of harms way when it hit his stick. Unfortunately the veteran d-man flipped the puck into his own goal.
  • Speaking of Outhouse, the 20 year-old goalie returned to the lineup after missing three games with injury. Outhouse looked no worse for wear. The Royals also had 20 year-old Ralph Jarratt back in the lineup after missing 11 games. Those two need to be mainstays for the Royals to have any chance of winning. Without those two overagers, Victoria is average at best. 
  • When I speak of average...I am pointing to teams that are playing near or at the .500 mark. More than a handful full of teams fall into that category, including the .484 winning Kelowna Rockets. The hope is all teams can be above average after the Christmas break in an effort to make a good push for a playoff spot. 
  • The Royals were the biggest surprise this season in the BC Division when they opened with 7 straight wins. I had to only look at their schedule to find out how a team, that had lost so much fire power from last season, was winning hockey games. To be frank, the Royals schedule was not only lite to start the season, but the majority of games were on home ice against inferior competition. The Royals opening eight games were all against BC Division rivals, where four out of the five teams, outside of Vancouver, are expected to tetter around the .500 mark this season.   
  • The good news? The Rockets took only three minors in a game that featured no off-setting penalties for aggressive play. It was so friendly that even Dante Hannoun taped Roman Basran on the pads after making his goal saving stop on the 20 year-old when the game was scoreless. Hey, Christmas is the season for love right?  
  • Remember how bad the Rockets were on home ice to start the season? The team is now 7-1-1-0 in their last 9 games at Prospera Place. They opened the season with 6 straight losses at home. 
  • The Rockets now get set for a four game road trip through the Central Division. It all starts Tuesday in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice. It is a gettable game to open the road trip considering the Ice have just 7 wins in 32 games and the possible news that the team is relocating to Winnipeg at seasons end. The key factor for this years edition of the Kelowna Rockets is to not play down to the level of the opposition. You can't leave these two point on the table to a team that woke up Saturday morning without a regulation win in their last 10 games. 
  • The Rockets have a rare Saturday night off. How rare? It is the first Saturday off in 12 weeks.
  • For those wondering, the team has played 31 games over 71 days, so having Saturday and Sunday off is a welcome reprieve. Only Kootenay (32) have played more games than the Rockets.  
  • I will make sure to do some video for you during our road trip out East. I will post it on my Twitter feed. We will talk to the players about Christmas and share some other shenanigans they may be up too. While the trip is all business, with wins paramount, we need to have some fun too don't we? Talk to you in Cranbrook!

No comments: