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|Carl Stankowski - www.shootthebreeze.ca|
- The smallest player on the ice made the biggest impact in game three of the Western Conference final. A generous 5 foot 9 and a slight 159 pounds, Seattle Thunderbirds goaltender Carl Stankowski made 34 saves in a 2-1 win. The rookie made several solid saves, including a skate blade stop against Calvin Thurkauf and point blank scoring chances on Tomas Soustal and Nolan Foote to name a few. Keegan Kolesar, the T-Birds best skater, opening the scoring essentially halfway through the second period and then potted the game winner with 20 seconds left in regulation time. For a second straight game, the T-Birds were able to win the game in the dying seconds. Ethan Bear scored a power play goal with 11.2 seconds left in regulation time in a 5-4 victory in game one.
- As good as Stankowski was last night, secondary chances by the Rockets were few and far between. When you record 35 shots on goal, you must get rebound chances, but the forwards were unwilling to get there in an effort to score a tap-in goal. Again, at this time of the year, style points don't count. I am sure the Rockets coaching staff were not pleased with the execution on the power play, where they manufactured a goal, but it came after missing on six previous chances. The lone goal did come with controversy, but on this night, the home team should have never needed a video review goal to get them back into the game.
- Calvin Thurkauf's goal came with controversy after Nick Merkley's wrist shot missed the net, came quickly off the glass and struck the cross bar behind Stankowski. As the puck was rolling down towards the ice, Thurkauf struck the puck with his stick in mid-air and it looked like it was a high stick. The referee, in a great position, called it a goal. After video review, it was declared a good goal, much to the dismay of Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk. What thoroughly impressed me was Konowalchuk's reaction. After receiving the bad news from the officiating staff, he verbally expressed his anger for less than 5 seconds, then quickly, like a switch went off, the veteran coach quickly regained his composure and had his team looking at 'getting the next one'. Konowalchuk could have gone off the rails. He could have stomped up and down in disagreement. He could have made a massive display on the bench for all to see, but he chose an approach, that I believe, worked in his teams favour. Konowalchuk didn't come unglued and either did his team.
- This has been a crazy series. The team that deserves the win has been on the losing end in all three games. I thought the Rockets were the better team in game one. The T-Birds deserved a better fate in game two and suffered a setback. Game three was clearly dominated by the Rockets, yet the T-Birds scored two goals on a season low 14 shots. One thing remains a constant though. The team that opens the scoring ends up winning the game.
- While Michael Herringer had a very lite workload, he didn't play poorly by any stretch of the imagination. The 21 year-old made a few point blank stops, including a nice right pad stop on a quick shot that seemed to find Kolesar's stick, who quickly fired it low only to see Herringer kick it out with cat like reflexes.
- Seattle fans will disagree because of the discrepancy in power plays (7-1), but the T-Birds deserved the majority, if not all of the penalties they took in game three. Twice, they gifted the Rockets by shooting the puck over the glass for delay of game minor penalties. Sadly, the Rockets couldn't capitalize on those gift wrapped chances. T-Birds fans may be more confused on how the Rockets, the most penalized team during the regular season, is taking so few trips to the box. All I can say is, with the T-Birds power play looking 'lights out terrific' when they get a chance, the Rockets players know full well that it is hockey suicide to make endless trips to the sin bin.
- The Rockets are 5 for 20 (25%) on the power play in this series while the T-Birds are 3 for 8 with the extra man (37.5%).
- The line of Calvin Thurkauf, Nick Merkley and Reid Gardiner were primarily matched up against the Mathew Barzal, Ryan Gropp and Keegan Kolesar line in game three. As mentioned, Kolesar scored both goals, but Barzal and Gropp were, for the most part, very quiet in the one goal win. The match-up didn't work entirely though. Reid Gardiner was no where near as effective as he was in games one and two. Gardiner had three shots on goal, but it was the unit of Dillon Dube, Tomas Soustal and Carsen Twarynski that were able to carry the majority of the offensive load. Soustal had a team high 5 shots on net and had several good looks. Dube was also buzzing and exuded the most energy. But at the end of the day, that trio didn't hit the score-sheet outside of Dube picking up an assist on Thurkauf's power play goal.
- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland was in the house. Holland, graciously, joined color analyst Kent Simpson in our 1st intermission on AM 1150.
- The road team has now won back-to-back games in this series. Seattle is now 5-0 on opposition ice in the 2017 playoffs. The Rockets are 5-2 at home.
- All three games have been decided by a single goal.
- Six of the T-Birds 10 goals scored in this series have come in the 3rd period. The Rockets have out-scored Seattle 3-1 in the first period and appear to be the better starting team in all three games.
- Game four is tonight at Prospera Place. Talk to you on the radio at 6:30.