You can’t keep a good man down. Just ask the Kelowna Rockets after Ryan Johansen scored three times in the Portland Winterhawks 6-3 win Sunday night in game two of a Western Conference semi final playoff series. Johansen was on the ice for three of the Rockets four even strength goals in a game one loss but made up for those miscues three night's later to tie the series at one win apiece.
Johansen’s best goal was scored after Ty Rattie came out of the penalty box. Rattie, skating with the puck on left wing, feathers a pass onto the tape of Johansen, who promptly deflects the puck high over the glove hand side of Rockets goaltender Adam Brown. That goal made it 3-2 before the 19 year-old scored again with eight seconds left in the second period to give the Hawks a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
The Rockets had a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, but much like we saw in game one Thursday night, the Hawks were considerably better in the second period. They scored four times in the middle frame and fired 20 shot towards Brown. In game one, the Hawks peppered 21 shots at Brown in the second period alone but came away empty handed.
I thought the Rockets had another good start and were on equal if not better footing than the Hawks after 20 minutes. But their play became fractured as the Hawks were able to open it up. Territorial play heavily favoured the home team in the second period and little changed in the third.
The Rockets prettiest goal came when Tyson Barrie, deep in his own end, launched a long bomb pass to center ice and found Jessey Astles sneaking behind the Hawks defense as he came out of the penalty box. Astles went in on a breakaway and beat Mac Carruth between the legs. Barrie was hurt in the third period and never returned.
Colton Sissons, Spencer Main and Cody Chikie had solid efforts from the Rockets forward core, but outside of those three it was slim picking. No one really stood out. Brett Bulmer attempted to agitate Johansen in the early stages of the game and was doing some good work but that seemed to taper off along with Bulmer's overall play. Bulmer now knows how Johansen feels. Bulmer was a minus three at games end.
Despite the 6-3 loss, this was a 2-2 game about half way through the second period.
- Referee's Steve Papp and Pat Smith called a pretty good game in my opinion. They could have issued way more penalties if they wanted to call the game by the book but the officials read it right. This is an emotionally charged time of the season where you see more pushing and shoving after the play. Unless we see dirty stuff after the whistle, I don't mind a little pushing and shoving after the play comes to an end.
We will hear word today on the length of the suspension the WHL will hand out to Hawks forward Brad Ross. Ross was suspended indefinitely after a five minute major and game misconduct for charging was issued after the 18 year-old nailed Rockets forward Zach Franko in game one. My guess? Three games.
Mitchell Chapman returned to the Rockets line up Sunday after he was hurt in an opening round series against Prince George after the penalty box door at Prospera Place came ajar.
You have to love the enthusiasm of the Hawks fans. Every time a Portland player falls to the ice they go nuts. Even if it is clearly a non penalty, they blow a gasket. It is a far cry from the subdued yet loyal Kelowna crowd we see at Prospera Place. You can’t but appreciate the zeal Hawks fans have for their team and the way they show it. In the final minute of the game they all rise to their feet and start cheering. What an atmosphere. On Sunday night I had to check my GPS to see if we were in Everett. Well done!!
So this series is down to a best if five. Throw out the first two games. The first team with three wins is off to the Western Conference final. Game three and four are in Kelowna Tuesday and Wednesday with game five back in Portland on Friday. Add it up and we are guaranteed four games over the next six evenings.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
It's now down to a best of five
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