That’s my view from the sixth floor of the Delta Grand Okanagan Hotel, located just across the street from Prospera Place where the Portland Winterhawks will try for the second time to close out their second round series against the Kelowna Rockets.
The team arrived yesterday afternoon , had a good workout and a nice dinner in downtown Kelowna. This trip is pretty much like every road trip has been since Mike Johnston and crew took over the team – business like and professional. The team knows why they are here and while the players have some laughs with each other, they know the task at hand.
The Game 5 loss was tough, but the Winterhawks played well enough to win, but just couldn’t get that all important go-ahead goal. Tonight, the first goal of the game is going to be huge. Both teams want to play with a lead and if Portland can solve Adam Brown early in the game, it could put some doubt in the minds of the Rockets.
Kelowna will be without Colton Jobke who was assessed a one game suspension for the hit on Brad Ross in Game 5. One game, according to Richard Doerksen on our broadcast on Friday night, is the league’s protocol if no injury resulted from the hit. The league hasn’t published their protocol for suspensions, ever, so, he stayed true to what he said on the air. For me, even though there was no injury to Ross, other than a cut to the face, I believe that the league should have factored intent into the mix. Todd Vrooman, who was between the benches at the time, noted before the game that during warm-ups, the Rockets were making comments directed at Ross that they were going to go after him. Jobke saw his opportunity and took it, well after the puck had left the zone. If it were me, I would have made it two games so Jobke is not eligible to return if there is a Game 7. That way, there is no possibility of this carrying over if the series carries on.
But, as I mentioned after Game 1, it is what it is. The Hawks have a tremendous chance to close it out tonight and get ready for either Spokane or Tri-City and join the Kootenay Ice and Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL’s final four.
Game time is 5:05, with the pre-game show at 4:35 on Freedom 970 with yours truly flying solo tonight. The game will also be tape delayed on Root Sports (formerly Fox Sports NW) starting at 9:00.
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