Rockets Ready For Island Life And Series Lead

The Kelowna Rockets must have enjoyed some good home cooking or maybe an afternoon at Cecil’s Perogy Palace, because it seemed that all that was needed to get back into the series against the Victoria Royals was a sleep in their own bed. Counting on home wins alone will end up burning the Rockets this round as they don’t have the last change.

After last night’s tug-o-war, the Rockets have to be feeling confident enough to know they can win this series if they keep their heads on a swivel. Game 4 was definitely a battle of special teams. Victoria just couldn’t bury on the man advantage going 0 for 5 and there were chances, there were very good chances.

What the Rockets could not do all of Round 1 was capitalize on the PP. The Royals offered up 5 power plays to Kelowna and FINALLY the Rockets made them pay. No goal was bigger than Cole Linaker’s GWG power play marker with 10 seconds left in the game. If it wasn’t for captain Rodney Southam driving to the net and getting hauled down, who knows where this game would have gone.

They could still be playing.

It was a back and forth battle with leads not lasting longer than a TV time out. Justin Kirkland took the early lead in the 3rd and every Kelowna fan was thinking about having a Game 6 on Sunday. Nice thought. Logan Fisher potted his 2nd of the night and crushed dreams, just crushed em.

Kirkland’s big body game has really been noticeable this series and the goal he scored made it all worth it. What also has been noticeable and I don’t mind being wrong about it is the play of Lucas Johansen.

I really didn’t understand why his draft status climbed so much; I thought his decisions on the power play were a bit laid back and that he held the puck too long when he could have unloaded the shot he has. Statistics seem to speak for themselves and 10 goals and 39 assists seem to do most of the talking and as I have watched him more intently, I’ve noticed his fast shot.

He has made his presence known on the back end and my criticism of his play has recoiled dramatically. He’s a solid player back there and whether he’s the next stud d-man out of Kelowna is yet to be seen, but they have reliable puck moving defender and those aren’t necessarily something that grows on trees.

Going into tonight’s game, Michael “Stone Cold” Herringer will once again need to bring the game that has kept the Rockets in this series. Game 4 wasn’t his best start but he made a few saves that well, we noticed.

Loading up on the power play again might be Kelowna’s key to victory. The 5 man forward group has panned out but to end the game adding Cal Foote was a nice safe touch, no one wants to see that backfire with 5 forwards…not in this town.

Whether Coleman Vollrath is the starter or not, the Rockets have to prepare to just drive the net again and get dirty up front. The drive by Southam that led to the game winner was a prime example of what it will take to win this thing. The Royals made the Rockets pay just the same on a few goals, a breakaway and a dog fight in front of Herringer.

Winning in Victoria won’t be easy though; these games have all been close and when it’s been a home team wins series, it will be tough to take that first one on the road. The nice thing is, if they do, there’s a pretty happy crowd ready to close it out before the weekend is done…AND they’ll be home in time to catch the season finale of Vinyl on HBO.

I’m all about creating win/wins.

Go Rockets GO!

photo – Vancouver Island CTV News

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