Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Case for the Defense

So last night we were talking about the offensive performance that Evgeny Grachev put on to help his Brampton Battalion win so tonight Tysen Dowzak earns high marks for his defensive work. Dowzak and his Kelowna Rockets earned a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Giants to claim a 3-2 series lead heading back to Kelowna on Monday night.

It was just one shift but it was in many ways it was the shift that sucked the life out of the Giants. It was the 3rd period with the Rockets clinging to their 1-0 lead when first Rocket left wing Brandon McMillian got called for hooking at and then the Rockets best defenseman Tyler Myers put the puck into the stands leading to 70 seconds of a 5 on 3 for Vancouver.

Dowzak came out and used his 6'5 frame to prevent any real scoring chances during that 70 seconds. Dowzak was in the passing lanes, he was blocking shots and he was just disrupting the Giant's power play.

Almost as soon as that 2 man advantage had expired when the Rockets had to kill yet another Giant power play and out came Dowzak again. Every time that the Rockets needed a defensive stand there was Dowzak out on the ice.

The difference in this series has been the penalty kill, in 3 Kelowna wins; the Rockets have killed 11 of 12 chances. In the 2 Vancouver wins they have killed just 9 of 12 and those power play goals that they have given up cost them those games.

Dowzak and his fellow blueliners have been excellent in this series shutting down 3 of the best players in the WHL and turning them into non-factors. They have not been getting the credit they deserve nor has their goalie Mark Guttenberger (who if he does not win CHL Goalie of the week it will be a huge crime) but as Dowzak said to us in February that all he wants is a championship.

Now the Rockets need to finish the job on the Giants on Monday evening which is going to be anything but easy. In the Giant's last series against Spokane, the Giants were in the exact same situation facing elimination in Game 6 but came back to win the final 2 games over the defending Memorial Cup Champs.

(Dowzak courtesy of Regan Bartel)

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