Sunday, October 20, 2019

Cup half full after one goal loss

Allan Douglas Photo
  • If you wanted the Kelowna Rockets to play with more jam, intensity, physicality and push back, you got it in spades last night in Kamloops. What you didn't receive was a win against the Blazers though. The Rockets did put up a good fight in a 2-1 road loss. Several players went outside of their comfort zone in the one goal setback by playing with more bite. While leaving Sandman Centre without two points, it was an encouraging sign for a team that really needs to play with more jump in their step. Let's see if they can carry that on going forward against Prince George and Victoria next week.
  • Typically the Blazers led on the shot clock, which frankly I am ignoring more and more as time goes on. While getting pucks on net are valuable in an effort to score, for me it is all about scoring chances. Give me fewer shots on net but quality scoring opportunities, I'm all good. The Rockets had ample chances to score in this game. How about Mark Liwiski :29 seconds into the game? Nolan Foote with a partial breakaway in the second period where Blazers goalie Dylan Garand makes a nice glove hand save. Alex Swetlikoff almost ties the game with time ticking down but again Garand shuts the door. If those scoring chances are not there, I'm concerned. They were, so I'm not.
  • I could be really knit-picky about the Rockets power play, which went 0 for 4 on the night. I thought it was just ok in creating scoring chances. It wasn't horrible by any means. In a game against a top tier team, which Kamloops is, the power play needs to cash in at least once. It couldn't. 
  • The real positive in this game was the penalty killing unit. Statistically one of the worst in the league, it didn't allow a goal against the 4th best power play unit on 7 chances. I thought the commitment to defend was excellent and it was a real positive for this group moving forward. Whether it was the pre-scout or just a more desperate effort to win loose pucks, assistant coach Kris Mallette had to leave last night's game feeling awfully good about what they were able to accomplish. 
  • I thought Roman Basran was again very, very good. The 18 year-old made several solid stops and frankly was one of the best players on the ice. While he received some help from his goal posts, he was quick and played with good control. He should have been a game star in the building with a 37 save performance. But much like shots on goal, the three stars in the building are become more and more irrelevant. It's a fan thing. Brodi Stuart's family was happy too. 
  • Kaedan Korczak really impressed me last night. No, no he won't play error free hockey (is that a thing in junior hockey?) but his decision making and defending was impressive. You almost take for granted his stealth decision making, only to find yourself wanting more of it when he is sitting in the penalty box. The 19 year-old received a 10 minute misconduct late in the second period and was sorely missed. What the Rockets really need is another Kaedan Korczak or someone at that elite level. 
  • The negatives? The Rockets took too many penalties. They played over half of the second period shorthanded. What was impressive is the team was only down 1-0 after 40 minutes despite of it.
  • The positives? They played essentially half of the third period without Korczak yet were still in the hockey game. Mission accomplished outside of a Max Martin shot that went off Dillon Hamaliuk's stick, which elevated the flight of the puck as it screamed past the glove hand side of Basran.            
  • To be honest, I liked Ethan Ernst on the second power play unit. 
  • Leif Mattson's no look pass to Kyle Topping for the Rockets lone goal was impressive.
  • The Rockets faced a team that has won 8 of its last 9 and have earned five consecutive wins. They are rolling. To come into that building and preform as well as they did is admirable. Despite losing three straight in the seasonal series against the Blazers, this was clearly the Rockets best effort against them this season. It really makes for great hockey every time these two rivals clash. The good news is we see it 7 more times before the season is through.   
  • For the record, I would have made Takeru Kobayashi proud last night. I crushed several hot dogs prepared by the fine staff in the media area. The hot dog steamer is terrific, not only heating the wieners to perfection but additionally warming up the buns on the top deck of the two tiered unit. It's glorious and makes a great Christmas gift.
  • Up next? Popcorn in Prince George on Wednesday.

No comments: