The Kelowna Rockets go into Game 3 against the Victoria Royals with something to prove. Narrowly missing overtime on a disallowed “kicked in” goal, the series has been closer than the series shows. Sure, its 2-0 Victoria, but does it look that way on the ice? Depends on who you ask. The Royals took the season series 5-4 and in the goals category it wasn’t close. The Rockets will need to get back to a full on team game to make this a series.
Michael Herringer hasn’t been lights out this playoffs and its a shame that #1 Jackson Whistle isn’t there to spell him when things get out of hand; of course if Whistle was there, it would be Herringer doing the relief work.
Stating the obvious but Kelowna’s top players will need to be at their best Tuesday night. Rourke Chartier is doing everything that’s asked of him and Tyson Baillie’s efforts are finally being rewarded. He has been the glue for the Rockets in the good times and the bad and unfortunately he’ll need to be a star in the first game back in Kelowna.
— WHL Gifs (@WHLgifs) April 10, 2016
Even with a disallowed goal, Baillie had a goal and an assist and is doing “Baillie Things”. Remember his hat trick against Seattle to clinch Game 7 in OT a few years ago? He’s Mr. Playoffs for the Rockets. I have a feeling his work isn’t done yet.
The defense for the Rockets has been suspect IMO; too much time making decisions, not shooting the puck and creating rebounds and holding the line hasn’t been the greatest either. In his draft year, Lucas Johansen needs to prove he’s worthy of a 28th overall ranking. I personally don’t think he has earned that right yet but in a series like this, he can turn a lot of heads.
Joe Gatenby also has a chance to step back up. He has usually been a rock on the back end as has Cal Foote but this defense just doesn’t impress this year and you start to notice these things when there isn’t a guy that steps up and leads that group. This team has prided itself, well the media and fans anyways, on stellar defense and there has never been questions there. I’ve had a few this season. Where is that booming shot from the point, this among others.
Up front it’s Dillon Dube and his theatrics every time he drives the net. This kid has moves, speed and during the regular season some pretty fancy finishes. Solving Coleman Vollrath will make things easier but it took Kelowna seven games to ultimately solve Connor Ingram. Big man Justin Kirkland has looked good this playoffs and driving to the net with his size can pull Victoria off their game. Kirkland has really looked like a leader this year, not an easy thing to do.
Kirkland, Riley Stadel and Rodney Southam will all need to be front and center against the Royals in Game 3. The Rockets thrive when they get their energy levels boosted, sounds like something every team does but Kelowna is a team that when they put the pedal to the medal and hold it there, it’s pretty tough to bring them down.
If the Rockets want to pull off a regicide, they’ll have to remember why they challenged for the top spot in the WHL. The Victoria Royals are no joke and quite frankly can down Kelowna a lot quicker than some will give them credit for. It’s still a seven game series and Kelowna is far from out of this.
It wouldn’t hurt the local crowd to hand over their library cards for the series and show who’s boss.
It shouldn’t be fun to play the Rockets, home or away; it should be painful going back to Victoria knowing it’s a best of 3.
Get that first goal.
photo – zimbio.com