It is what it is…

Give full marks to the Kelowna Rockets for coming into Game 1 last night at the Rose Garden and skating away with a 5-1 victory over the Portland Winterhawks.  Was it a 5-1 game, not entirely, but that doesn’t matter…it is what it is.

Some thoughts…

– First, to clear up the high stick situation late in the second period that led to the all important third goal for Kelowna and an upset Hawks bench, here is how the WHL rule book reads: “A “high stick” is one which is carried above the height of the opponent’s shoulders.  A player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follow through of a shooting motion.”

Brendan Leipsic was struck by a follow through of a dump out pass by a Rockets defender.  By the letter of the law, it was accidental contact.  Now, just a few minutes earlier Zach Stebner was sent off for a similar play, but on that play, it looked like Stebner played the puck but didn’t lower it when he had a chance before Ryan Johansen collided with Stebner’s stick.

Portland’s bench had a beef that play should have been whistled dead with Leipsic on the ice, but the Rockets had possession.  Portland did gain possession and that is normally when the whistle would be blown, but by that time, Leipsic was up and on his way to the bench.  The Hawks did seem to lose focus for a moment and that was just enough for Shane McColgan to blast one home from between the circles.

– Adam Brown was tremendous in net for Kelowna last night, especially in the second period when he made 21 saves.  At the other end, Mac Carruth didn’t have his best night, especially playing the puck and the Rockets took advantage.  Carruth made an all or nothing decision late in the first period, deciding to skate out and go after a desperate poke check on McColgan and came up snake eyes as the Rocket forward just stepped around him and put it into the open net.  That was a big play because Portland had just gained some serious momentum coming off a long penalty kill.

– I’m sure the Hawks will hear today on the status of Brad Ross and a possible suspension after his five minute major for charging and game misconduct that knocked Zach Franko out of action halfway through the first period.  It was a quick hit, that appeared when I saw it live as a shoulder hit and the video doesn’t show the hit cleanly on the archived feed.   Ten years ago, that would have most likely been deemed a good open ice hit…now, it is a five minute major.  Right or wrong, that’s the way it is.

– Taylor Peters and the rest of the penalty kill crew did a great job after the first power play goal by Stebner to kill off the final six opportunites, including an extended two-man differential and the entire five minute power play after the Ross hit.  A time frame where the Rockets only were credited with one shot on net.

– One thing is certain to me…the first round series against Everett was the least emotional, lowest intensity series I may have ever seen.  Last night, it took the Hawks a bit to get into playoff intensity and that boiled over at times.  I wouldn’t expect that to be a problem in Game 2 on Sunday.  I closed the pre-game show with a quote from Joe Morrow in the Vancouver Columbian that said “you can’t let anything bother you”.   Well, the Hawks let some things bother them last night…and the result is a one game deficit in Round 2.

This is going to be a long, intense series…as it should be…



  1. some points on why no call on the leipsic high stick: yes, it was follow through, leipsic was leaning forward to try and poke the puck, and the last one is leipsic is TINY!!!! It couldn’t have been more than 3 feet off the ice. It was a marginal call, could have gone either way! Nice post, thanks for not sugar coating it!

  2. For me the whole thing boils down to you gotta win home games in the playoffs. I was extremely disappointed with the Hawks play last night. I felt like they were an entirely different team last night.

  3. Andy,

    Well written and very objective analysis. I alsays appreciate your perspective.

  4. “This is going to be a long, intense series…”

    I agree with the intensity…the length is still TBD. With Ross looking at being suspended for multiple games, Sunday night may go a long way toward determining both the length and outcome of this series. If the Hawks don’t find a way to solve Brown and get a win, going to Kelowna down 0-2 and needing to win 4 out of 5 (with two wins in Prospera Place) is a huge challenge even for this team.

  5. The Ross hit is up on You Tube now and the view is revealing. I saw it in real time and thought it was a good call, looked from my seat (behind the net) that Ross left the box, drew a bead of Franko and mowed him over. The You Tube video is from above the penalty boxes and shows Ross going at Barrie #4 who had the puck, Barrie passed over to Franko and Ross then veered left and hit Franko. I’m not a big fan of Ross’s reckless emotions but he was clearly chasig the puck on this play. I think his reputation hurt him with the zebra’s on this play. Go Hawks!

  6. I admit that I’m writing this comment without having seen the play. I will state that while I support the on ice hustle that Ross brings to the team I have been opposed all year to the type of player Johnston allows him to be. Ross is chippy, takes horrible penalties and more often things about trying to be a physical force than being a smart player. Coach Johnston now goes on record as saying Ross isn’t a dirty player; REALLY? I don’t know what type of a person Ross is off the ice but I’d certainly like to see someone on ice bring him down a few rungs on the ladder since his coach won’t. Isn’t this also what team captains are for. All season long Ross has been a thorn but on the positive side I don’t have to watch his antics on ice in game two tonight. Where is the leadership on this squad?

  7. I couldn’t tell from the video if Brad got his elbow up or if the Kelowna player just simply just got mowed over by a big league hit. ????

  8. Hey Hawk fans …. Relax! This was a classic game 1 road victory because Kelowna has been playing and the Hawks were off for over a week. It happens all the time, in fact road teams have a better cance “stealing” game one than game 2. I expect the Hawks to come out in game 2 on Sunday and win. However, if they don’t this team can win on the road anytime and any place. Don’t forget …. What was the Hawks playoff road record last season?

  9. Hey Andy,

    Couldn’t have said it better than that, it is what it is. This team has had trouble with the penalty box during the regular season, it was bound to happen in the post. I don’t know how I feel about the Ross hit, on one hand I don’t think he was trying to hurt Franko more than you naturally do when you’re on the ice, and I think he was trying to spark a little fire in a Hawks team that seemed to be lacking out the gate. On the other hand I hate to see guys get hurt at this level so… Anywho, how often in round two does every home advantage team lose game one??? (and on the eastern confrence game two as well) Was good to see the Hawks win tonight and can’t wait to see how we do on the road. As always a big fan of the Hawks and yourself Mr. Kemper,
    Thanks much, Matt

  10. Told you…. Hawks will also win game 3 in Kelowna.

  11. Hey Andy,

    Keep it up through the series and you might get your wish for a broadcast job with another team.

    I have never in the history of the Hawks heard our broadcast team have such a love fest wtih the other teams we are playing.

    Your crappy comment at the end of the regular season that Spokane would be the team to come out of the WHL was the end for me.

    If you spent half the time discussing Portland and our players as you do having a love fest for the other teams, we might get a few more listeners.

    It is way more then just mentioning the other teams good players. It is so bad I hear a more bias radio broadcast from the other teams announcers.

    Will Regan interview you in Kelona and take up 5 minutes of their broadcast time letting you talk about how bad Kelona is???? That was the pleasure we go.

  12. What’s the status of Brad Ross’ suspension?

  13. Thanks for listening Suzy…we try to know as much about our opponents as we do our own team and if you consider that a “love fest”…well, I’m sorry that we aren’t homer enough for you. Funny thing is, I’ve been called a homer by opposing teams fans more often than not…so, I’m going to keep doing what I do.

    And I would never work for another team…regardless of the league.


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