Sunday, October 30, 2011

So long's been a blast

(photo by Tricia Mercuri)

- What a month for the hockey club and what a start to the season.  The Blazers closed off the month with four wins in a row for a record of 10-2 and 11-3 overall.  It's likely the best month for this hockey club in years.

- The Blazers start is the best start of any team in the BC Division since the 08/09 Vancouver Giants.  They were 11-0-0-3 through 14 games and didn't lost a game in regulation until a 3-2 loss against Chilliwack 18 games into the regular season

- There was a lot of great individual performances but the biggest contribution was the "team" aspect.  The month featured nine different players with game winning goals and a great 1-2 punch in goal with Cam Lanigan and Cole Cheveldave playing well off each-other as the two continue their competition for ice. 

- Since Radio NL does award a "Player of the Month" (announced Wednesday night vs Portland) let's look at two finalists:  Tyler Hansen, according to the WHL stats I use is leading the league with a +16 rating and contributed eight assists.  He's been a bit of an unsung hero this month.  Colin Smith led the Blazers with eight goals and 10 assists and a +8 rating.  His line along with JC Lipon and Tim Bozon was probably the teams most consistent trio during the month.

- Dylan Willick has had the hottest stick in the last stretch with nine goals in his last 10 games.  Brendan Ranford has also found his goal scoring touch. After missing the first three games of the season due to suspension, Ranford's lit it up for nine goals in 11 games.

- One phrase I'm trying to rid myself of when talking about the Blazers this season is "last year". Last year is well...last year. Although comparisons are easy and often very contrasting to show the turnaround of the club, the two teams really have nothing in common.  It seems we the media will point out the good start but it's always side-noted with "but last year they (missed the playoffs, took too many penalties, gave up too many goals, etc." I think we've heard enough about it, haven't we?

- Rookie 16 year-old F Matt Needham is learning a lesson that things won't come easy.  The Penticton native was set to perform in front of friends, family and a bundle of people from the Okanagan Hockey Academy Saturday night in Kelowna.  There was one problem, Matt was a healthy scratch after what the coaching staff felt was a lacklustre effort against Kelowna the night before at ISC.  A tough lesson I'm sure for the Blazer 1st round bantam pick.

- Kelowna's Prospera Place is always an electric place to watch a game.  It's a great facility and the building is full no matter what.  The Rockets have done a great job over the years of retaining their fan base.

- With a bouquet comes a beef. What's with the Rockets goal song this year? The Isley Brothers "You Make Me Wanna Shout"...I wasn't really feeling the song from 1959 the other night. I liked the old one... I think it was the hook from Def Leppard's "Rocket". Really though, whatever song they use I just hope I don't hear it very often with the Blazers four visits to Prospera Place this season.

- The Portland Winterhawks kick-off a busy month of November for the Blazers.  They visit ISC Wednesday night.  They just concluded a Central division swing going 2-3-0-1.  They'll have a couple days off to gather their bearings before playing here Wednesday and then Kelowna for back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday.  Nine games and two and a half weeks on the road for the Hawks....

- The Blazers play 12 games in November, six on the road, six at home.  The month includes a weekend road-trip in Tri-City and Spokane who have been two dominant U.S. division teams to date. The Blazers will also head to the Island for a pair of games at the end of the month against the Victoria Royals.


No comments: