Let's face it; you need a little luck or good fortune along the way to win a WHL championship. Oh sure, good goaltending, timely scoring and character players need to emerge to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, but if the 'Hockey God's' aren't looking upon you favorably you are severely hooped.
Use the Kelowna Rockets as an example. In
the 2013 playoffs, the Rockets suffered far too many obstacles in order to
obtain the ultimate prize. The injury to captain Colton
in the second last game of the regular season was a back breaker. Many fans
wondered why it had to happen late in the season and why to the teams’ heart
and soul player? And why was the injury so significant? Why did Carter Rigby
and Mitch Wheaton have to suffer shoulder
injuries that were so serious, neither could play in the first round of the
playoffs? Why did MacKenzie Johnston get knocked
out of the opening round playoff series with Seattle before Jesse Lees suffered
a similar fate in game four? It forced the Rocket to use just five d-men to get
past the T-Birds in a series that should have never gone seven games. It ended
up taxing both the forwards and d-man and left them anything put fresh for a
second round date with the Kamloops
In round two against Kamloops,
why did the officiating staff stick it to the Rockets in game four? Why did the
team have to compete against more than just a Blazers team who needed no help
in generating quality chances even strength? No breaks from the officiating
staff and the injury bug biting mercilessly translated into a quick exit from
the playoffs and no championship title.
Good fortune was a factor in a WHL
title in 2005 though. The Rockets found themselves in the Western Conference
final against the high powered Kootenay
Ice. In game six at Prospera Place, Ice goaltender
Jeff Glass was putting on a clinic. With Kootenay
holding a slim 1-0 lead late in the third period and game seven looking like a
sure thing back in Cranbrook, the Rockets were
granted a power play late in the game. Defenceman
Mike Card would take the puck behind the Rockets net and skated with it up the
ice. Instead of dumping the puck in the corner, Card surprised Glass by firing
a long range shot from center ice that somehow beat the 19 year-old goaltender,
tying the game at one. In overtime the Rockets would score the game winning
goal. On to the finals they went where they captured the league title with a
rather easy five game series with the Brandon Wheat Kings. But why did Mike
Card's shot from centre ice beat Glass, who was indestructible through 56
Fast forward to 2009 when the Rockets faced power house Calgary in the
league final. In game six, the Rockets are awarded a power play in overtime
after Alex Plante takes a hooking penalty.
Tyson Barrie goes on to score the game winning goal sending the Rockets to the
Memorial Cup for the fourth time in franchise history. But why was a penalty
called on Plante in overtime? Was it good
fortune that played a factor in one official calling a penalty in O.T? Had
Calgary won that game the series would have gone back to the Saddledome
for a game seven where the Hitmen
would have been the odds on favorite to wrap up the series.
Again, good goaltending,
timely scoring and character players need to emerge in order to have a long
playoff run into the month of May. But if you don't think a little luck or good
fortune along the way isn't necessary in winning a league title and
representing the WHL at the Memorial Cup, you are
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