I finally get a few minutes to throw down some comments about Game 4 last night in Kelowna as I wait for the Spokane/Tri-City overtime to start and watching the end of the Sharks/Kings as they look like OT as well. Gotta love playoff hockey…
– It was a long bus ride home today (actually last night to Chilliwack and then the rest of the way today to Portland), and for all of us, it is a trip that none of us want to take again this weekend. The Hawks can avoid the bus miles by winning Game 5 tomorrow night at the Rose Garden in front of a hopefully loud and raucous crowd.
– For the first time in the series, the Hawks jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period with Ty Rattie and Taylor Peters scoring 40 seconds apart to open the lead. The quick-strike Hawks continue to put goals quickly together and last night it was great to do that early in the game. The Rockets responded to cut it to one on a goal by (who else?) Shane McColgan and it would stay the same score until the third period.
– In between goals, both Mac Carruth and Adam Brown played well, with each making great saves to keep it 2-1. Brown’s left pad save on Ryan Johansen was highway robbery and Carruth stopped everything thrown his way with confidence.
– To say Joe Morrow got all of it on his game-winner would be an understatement. That shot was NHL caliber and Brown had no shot as it went past his ear. With a ton of NHL scouts on hand, they had to take notice of that, if they didn’t, they shouldn’t be NHL scouts. Morrow now has goals in three straight games, something he has yet to do in the regular season.
– Nino Niederreiter got three assists to improve his point streak to a league best eight games with 17 points in that stretch. The assists led me to jokingly call Nino the “dishmaster” when he entered the bus last night. He got a good laugh out of that, but I think he likes it when the puck goes in, regardless if he is dishing or finishing.
– Johansen didn’t have his best game last night, but he had the insurance marker to alleviate some pressure in the final four minutes. Sometimes you have a feeling a player is going to score, and I had that feeling once the puck got on Johansen’s stick.
– Although I didn’t get a chance to shake his hand and say hello, it was great to see team owner Bill Gallacher at the game last night. His busy work schedule hasn’t allowed him a lot of chances to see the Hawks this year, and I know he enjoyed last night.
– I know that I made some comments about the cramped press box and obstructed site lines at the Prospera Place, but I want to point out that the Kelowna Rockets organization is first class from top to bottom. From GM Bruce Hamilton to Coach Ryan Huska on down, they are easy to work with and as accommodating as any team in the WHL. The same goes for Regan Bartel and Gord McGarva on AM 1150, our broadcast colleagues.
– Game 5 is on Friday night at the Rose Garden at 7:00…lets try to sell it out…tell your friends and family, they won’t want to miss this one. Our broadcast starts at 6:35 on Freedom 970 and in-house at 98.1 FM with myself, John Kirby and Todd Vrooman.