Friday, April 10, 2009

The Strong Are Alive

With good reason, the focus during this playoff season has been on the offensive weapons Evgeny Grachev and Michael Del Zotto. One player who should not be overlooked is the defensive specialist Tysen Dowzak of the Kelowna Rockets.

The Rockets have roared back from trailing the Tri-City Americans 0-2 to take a 3-2 series lead after a 5-2 win on the road. The key to the turnaround has been the Rocket defense mainly shutting down the American's power play.

In game 5 the Rockets blanked the Americans as they killed off all 7 power plays to run the kill rate to 2 for the last 19 in the 3 games. It has been the biggest of difference given how the American's 2 wins in the series were due to late game power play goals.

Even bigger has been that Dowzak has turned up his physical presence as his coaches have been wanting and the Rockets needing as size is the biggest advantage that the Rockets have. Dowzak playing a physical game is helping to wear down the smaller Americans and now the Rockets head back to Kelowna with a chance to end the series.


Evgeny Grachev and his Brampton Battalion are heading to the Eastern Conference finals after finally eliminating the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 3-2 to win their series 4-2. Grachev had an assist on the Battalion's second goal of the game for his 15th playoff point but the difference in this game was not the Brampton offense.

In the 3rd period with the Troop leading 3-2, the Battalion put on a clinic on how to forecheck and that prevented the Majors from mounting any kind of sustained offense. The Battalion limited the Majors to 8 shots on goal in the period and finished this series once and for all.

Next up is the Belleville Bulls who will have home ice advantage in the Eastern Conference finals.


Tomas Kundratek and his Medicine Hat Tigers saw their season come to a painful end as they were swept out of their WHL second round series by the Brandon Wheat Kings after a 6-2 whipping. The Tigers we are sorry to say were just overwhelmed and never in this series as the Wheat Kings dominated every area of the game.

Kundratek was not all that bad as he had 3 assists in 3 straight games but it was not enough and even if they were 3 goals it would not have been a difference maker. Kundratek finishes his season with Medicine Hat at 4-19-23 in the regular season and 0-6-6 during the WHL playoffs.

It will be interesting to see if the Rangers bring Kundratek in on an ATO or just bring him in to practice with Hartford. As long as Hartford has a full crew of healthy defensemen then it is very doubtful that he will any action unless Hartford wants to rest someone.

(Dowzak courtesy of Tim Swanky)

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