You could see it happening.
The hope was it would fade after five minutes.
No, wait. Ten.
Maybe it was first period flatness?
Nope, it was pretty much through 60 minutes, maybe outside of 3 minutes in the dying moments of the third period when ‘urgent hockey’ was initiated.
To be critical would be too harsh though. While disappointing, are the Rockets not afforded the luxury of laying an egg in this abbreviated season? I will give them a mulligan on this one. A one off. Just a flat game after a weekend of playing against two teams that are above you in the standing over three consecutive nights. That said, play without jam, life or passion on Friday, one can be less lenient. Playing sluggish hockey with just three games left on the schedule - at least in these parts where the bar is set high - is simply unacceptable.
- Let’s give the Cougars credit here. Short staffed and built-in excuses were there before puck drop. Yet, a 16 year-old opens the scoring and a veteran pots a short handed goal and its 2-0 for the road team before you knew it. With a lack of urgency offensively and Taylor Gauthier making it hard for a possibly rally, the Cougars ended the Rockets winning ways at home. It was Kelowna’s first loss at Prospera Place in 6 attempts.
- The turning point was clearly three consecutive power play chances in the second period. The Rockets were unable to score on any of them. Instead they surrendered their 7th shorthanded goal against. The team allowed just 6 shorthanded goals all of last season.
The Rockets power play went 0 for 5. It’s the first time in 7 games they failed to score with the extra man.
- Mark Liwiski was able to find the back of the net late to make it a one goal game. The 19 year-old leads the team in goals with 9, which equals his total from all of last season. ‘Louie’ had a career high 11 goals two seasons ago.
- A clear indicator of how softly the game was played? From start to finish it took 2 hours and 8 minutes. It was the quickest Rockets game on record this season.
- Mark my words people. The Cougars will destroy a lot of teams in the future. Not next year, but in two years time when this core of younger players learns to win as a group. It’s keeping them together that is paramount. Win together. Hate to lose together. Keep Mark Lamb intact to cultivate a winning culture there. They’ve got the right man at the head of it all. If you think Lamb isn’t a forward thinker, look at how he was able to build the Swift Current Broncos into the powerhouse they became in 2018. Lamb could have traded away first round picks for short term gain to save face. Instead he chose to rebuild. Putting his pride in his pocket, he built through the draft and didn’t mortgage the future. That allowed Manny Viveiros to do it when he traded away Lamb’s players/prospect if you will, in the teams WHL championship season.
- What’s next? A much better effort this weekend. Veterans and rookies alike. Make Tuesday’s effort an anomaly on what can only be considered an above average season. In the minds of many, this group is better than what the naysayers had envisioned. It’s up to the players to make sure that theme resonates in our heads even after the lights at Prospera Place have been turned out for the summer and the ice plant has been shut down until the fall.