So does anyone want to guess as to who this smiling guy is? Odds are that you have no idea as to who he is until we tell that it is Tysen Dowzak Playoff Version 1.01 of the Kelowna Rockets.
"Hatch" as we know him by has a reason to be smiling as his Kelowna Rockets opened up their WHL Western Conference finals by stealing Game 1 on the road from the Vancouver Giants 4-2.
Most will call this an upset but we can't as we have been following the Rockets closely since the beginning of the year and we know that this is a very good team. We also are happy for Dowzak as he has come a long way over the last couple of months.
Dowzak's Rockets have been playing what we call "Big Bang Hockey" where the Rockets have been pounding on the other teams with the body and then pounding some more. The fans of other teams have not been happy as in a couple of cases, the heavy hitting has led to some injuries but the hits are clean.
It is old school hockey; making sure that you finish your checks and getting a piece of the other team at every chance. Dowzak at 6'5 is not the biggest player on Kelowna or the toughest but he just might be the strongest as he does not need much to knock someone off their skates.
In Game 1, Dowzak had some good moments, a couple of bad moments and one very entertaining moment in which left us laughing. Got to start with the laugh as it was in the second period with Vancouver attacking the Kelowna Rocket goal.
It was a scene straight out of those displays of dominoes that once sees on TV, Dowzak wanting to clear the crease shoved one of the Giants who in turn fell back into a teammate and then knocked a third teammate right out of the crease. All 3 wound up cleared from the crease so with good reason, Dowzak snarled at them and none tried to re-enter the crease area.
Dowzak was active, aggressive and playing with some mean inside of him from the start of this game, he was taking the body and making smart plays to clear the zone. Dowzak is never going to be a scorer but his smarts on defense allows Kelowna a chance to go right on the attack knowing that the big guy is back their to protect them.
Dowzak was also standing up for his smaller teammates as the Rocket coaching staff has been wanting him to do during the regular season. Dowzak has been honest in acknowledging that he needs to be doing these things in order to help Kelowna win.
We had Dowzak with 6 hits overall, 5 clears, 2 blocked shots and 3 shots. Dowzak also gets some kudos for helping the Rocket penalty kill to holding Vancouver to just a 1 for 6 which is pretty good considering the firepower that Vancouver has in their lineup.
In the 3rd, Dowzak did lose his cool but in hindsight it is hard to be too upset with him considering the circumstances. Dowzak took a roughing call at 5:17 in his own zone but thanks to replay we think that Dowzak should not have been the only call.
Dowzak threw a punch after first being knocked down with a crosscheck then punched himself in the head both of which were missed by the refs (and by us at first glance as well). The frustrating thing though is that Dowzak at that point needed to remain calm as the Giants had just scored to get back into the game and were gaining momentum.
The Rockets killed off the power play but Dowzak we felt almost let that anger he was playing with almost get the best of him the rest of the game and might have let his frustration get the better of him. He took a minus when Vancouver scored their second goal at 14:01 of the 3rd to make it 3-2.
Still seeing Dowzak play with that snarl was for the most part a great sight because in the end, the Giant's best players were held off the scoresheet and Dowzak deserves some credit for it. Now if Dowzak figures out how to balance the snarl with remaining under control then the Giants will be in trouble.
Kelowna was able to hold on for the eventual win and steal home ice away from Vancouver. Even better for Kelowna is that Game 2 is tomorrow afternoon which might be to their advantage given how Vancouver might still be recovering from their series with Spokane.
(Dowzak courtesy of Regan Bartel )
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