|Shoot the Breeze Photography|
- I hate the shootout. I absolutely detest it. I will also admit though, it was easier to digest last night after Nolan Foote scored the game winning goal in the 'skills competition' lifting the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-3 win over the visiting Tri City Americans. The Rockets were the better team through 39 minutes, but unfortunately for the home team, regulation time is measured over 60 minutes. Penalty trouble allowed the visiting Americans to battle back, scoring three unanswered goals to send the game into overtime. Two big saves in OT, one from Americans raw rookie goalie Talyn Boyko on Liam Kindree before James Porter made a game saving paddle stop on Krystof Hrabik, sent the game into the dreaded shootout. Porter was flawless while Foote and Leif Mattson scored to allow the Rockets to escape with their 13th victory of the season. On this night, it was lucky 13 as the boys in black were again on the winning end of a one goal game.
- Did the Rockets deserve the win last night? Maybe not considering they desperately held on in the third period when they were out-shot 12-5. But, I can count several times this season where the team deserved a better fate and lost. A 4-3 overtime loss in Prince George in November stands out like a sore thumb. The Cougars scored the tying goal late in the third period and then lite the lamp early in overtime and escaped with two points. At the end of the day, it all evens out doesn't it? I think it does. The team will likely win games they shouldn't and lose games they had in their clutches.
- Liam Kindree centred a line with Nolan Foote and Leif Mattson and it paid off in a big way. Kindree was the first star with a goal and an assist and had a glorious chance to end the game on a bang-bang play on a tremendous setup from Nolan Foote on a face-off win in overtime. Kindree has the best hands on the team. The 18 year-old's vision on the ice is superior to many of his teammates and his silky hands as a setup man seems to be the ideal fit with shot happy Foote. Foote, on a setup from Kindree behind the Americans net, scored his 17th goal of the season in the one goal win and turned the red light on in the shootout.
- How does James Porter not get a star last night? Someone help me here? Porter made several sensational stops when the Americans were pouring it on in the third period. Of the three goals scored by the Americans, how many were clean shots? One. Americans d-man Aaron Hyman's wrister, with what can only be considered a grade 'A' scoring chance, was the only one that beat Porter cleanly. The other two goals appeared to hit 20 year-old Parker AuCoin, parked in front of Porter, and somehow found the back of the net.
- The Americans were awarded 7 power play chances. They score on two of them. Many penalties were warranted. Others were not. Lassi Thomson's perfectly executed hip check in the third period was one that didn't deserve two minutes in the penalty box, but like the NHL, body contact is no longer looked upon with favour. Fortunately. Dalton Gally's massive crunch on Americans speedster Evan Bouchard at center ice in the third period went left undetected by both officials.
- Speaking of Gally...how good was he last night? Seeing massive time on the penalty kill, the 20 year-old made great decisions with the puck and won more battles in the corners than he lost in the one goal victory. I thought he was terrific. In my opinion, Gally is the best transaction GM Bruce Hamilton has made this season. The best! I think Gally is the best overager the team has right now. Not bad for a 10th round bantam pick that the Medicine Hat Tigers elected to throw away. Not flashy, three star selectors will never pick a guy who doesn't hit the score-sheet. It's sad, yet true that we don't award players on effort rather than skill.
- The win moved the Rockets into sole possession of second place in the BC Division, two points up on both the Victoria Royals and Kamloops Blazers. Yes, the Rockets have played significantly more games then their BC Division counterparts, but for a team that was sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference not that long ago, situated 5th among the 10 teams looks a lot better right now.
- The Rockets close out the home portion of their pre-Christmas schedule tomorrow night against the Victoria Royals. The Royals have played 6 fewer games, or have 12 available points to them in order to gain ground and leapfrog over their BC Division counterparts. If they don't, look for the Royals to offload players and subtract rather than add with the WHL trade deadline looming large.