|Shoot the Breeze Photography|
- Power play problems? What power play problems? Last night the power play struck for three goals in the Kelowna Rockets 5-3 home ice win over the visiting Portland Winterhawks. The power play, which is rated as the fifth best unit in the WHL, hasn't exactly been a constant threat this season, but it sure was Friday night against the Winterhawks. I anticipate it making a greater impact now that all of the key elements are in place. With Rourke Chartier at the right face-off circle (left hand shot), Nick Merkley at the left face-off dot (right hand shot) and Calvin Thurkauf provided a net front presence, how can this unit not create nightmares for the opposition? All it really needs is a bomb from the blue-line and Cal Foot can provide that if he isn't hesitant in shooting the puck. Oh, then the second power play unit comes on the ice with Justin Kirkland at the right face-off circle (as a left hand shooter), Tyson Baillie is at the left dot (right handed shooter) and Tomas Soustal providing a net front presence. Get the idea? No excuses for a power play that has six lethal forwards on two separate units that can change a game in an instant.
- The Rockets, traditionally a quick starter, were slow out the gates in this one and trailed 2-1 after one period. In saying that, Winterhawks goaltender Adin Hill stopped Cole Linaker, Tomas Soustal and Dillon Dube on breakaways, so the Rockets could have been up by a goal going into the intermission instead of trailing by one. I thought Hill was really good early and his play, like the Winterhawks, trailed off as the game went along.
- Michael Herringer, making his 10th straight start was solid in the win. I think he would have liked Dominic Turgeon's wrap around goal late in the third period back, but Herringer was full marks for helping his team win it's fifth consecutive game.
- After playing the night before at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game, I thought both Lucas Johansen and Dillon Dube played quiet games. The coaching staff attempted to pull back the minutes that they played in an effort to keep them fresh for essentially three games in four night's against Victoria (Sat), Seattle (Sun) and Lethbridge on Tuesday night. That said, Johansen played a team high 24 minutes in the win.
- The win enabled the Rockets to move within a single point of first place Lethbridge in the WHL standings. The Hurricanes fell 3-1 in Victoria. The Rockets do have one game in hand on the Hurricanes, which will be made up Sunday in Seattle. The Rockets host the Hurricanes Tuesday night with what could be first place showdown.
- Why does Rourke Chartier score goals? His shot is extremely accurate, but the reason why he finds the back of the net is his no hesitation mindset in shooting it. Chartier had a team high 6 shots on net last night and is always among the team leaders in that category. Winterhawks captain Dominic Turgeon lead all shooters with 7 shots on goal.
- Great discipline shown by forward Nick Merkley last night when he was hit against the boards by Turgeon with seven minutes to play in the third period. Merkley, instead of retaliating, simply let the official make the call (roughing) and allowed his team to go on the power play for the 7th time. It is that type of composure that will be needed to win games when the playoffs roll around. It is better to make the adjustment now and suck it up, rather than attempt to make the change when the puck drops on the 2016 WHL playoffs.