Patrick Dea earns 39-save shutout
Morgan Geekie and Michael Rasmussen scored two goals apiece to pace the Tri City Americans to a 5-0 romp over the Kelowna Rockets in game one of its first-round playoff series
Amerks goaltender Patrick Dea, 20, faced 39 shots on the evening – 30 during the first two periods to give his mates a chance to win.
“We’re going to need to get in this guy’s face,” said Rockets captain Cal Foote in media the scrum after the game. “We’re going to want to make sure we’re in front and not let him see all the pucks we’re firing at him.”
Kelowna peppered Dea with 19 first period shots, but it was Tri City which led 1-0 at the intermission on Geekie’s first of the affair at 15:22. The Rockets could not clear the zone and Tri City kept up the pressure until Geekie forced a shot under Kelowna starter James Porter. It was Geekie’s third career playoff goal in seven post-season appearances.
“We’ve had a history of not doing too well in this rink, so to come in here and get the first one like that, that’s really big for us,” Geekie said after the game in an interview with the Kelowna Daily Courier.
Isaac Johnson extended the Amerks lead at 5:11 of the second period. Nolan Yaremko won a faceoff in the Rockets zone, Johnson picked up the loose puck and ripped a shot past a screened Porter from the top of the faceoff circle.
Seconds later, Porter kept the Rockets hopes alive when he stoned Geekie on a breakaway.
Late in the second period while on a power play, Dillon Dube beat Jake Bean to the outside and drove the Tri City net. Bean recovered in time to deliver enough of a cross-check to force Dube into Dea and the goal post, dislodging the cage and sending both players to the ice.
Both Dube and Dea were slow to get up and when the smoke cleared at the 19:49 mark of the period, the officials assessed Dube a five-minute charging major, which triggers an automatic game misconduct.
Tri City made the Rockets pay dearly, scoring at 3:38 of the third period with 1:12 remaining in the major penalty. Geekie collected his second of the night, taking a cross-ice feed from Juuso Valimaki and firing a shot into the wide-open net.
Then 23 seconds later, the Americans iced the contest on the same power play when Rasmussen beat Porter for his first career playoff goal. The Detroit Red Wings first round pick tallied again, two minutes later, when he redirected a point shot from Dylan Coghlan.
With the victory, the Americans got the gorilla off its back, winning for the first time in its last 20 regular-season and playoff visits to Prospera Place.
Rockets assistant coach Adam Brown, a former WHL goaltender, confirmed in a post-game interview on AM1150 radio that he was not pleased with the Rockets performance.
“I think a common theme for us is we’ve started games very well and sometimes things go very well for us on the scoresheet,” Brown said. “A lot of times later in games we kind of sit back and stop focusing on those little details that are bringing that success.”
As for the charging major to Dube, Brown was emphatic.
“It’s not a penalty,” he said. “If you watch it he gets pushed into the goaltender when he’s driving the net – which you are allowed to do. When you watch the replay, it’s clearly not (a penalty). I know how it is. I was a goaltender. When guys are driving, you try to hold your ice.”
Dube collides hard with Dea. They were both slow to get up and Dube was given 5 min for charging and a game misconduct. pic.twitter.com/Zj4GZYKXDt
— Brandon Rivers (@hodgesheroes) March 23, 2018
“If that happened to me, I would say, why are you hitting this guy into me when he’s at full speed and has nowhere to go. It’s frustrating at first, of course, because a guy just blew you up, but really it’s your own player at fault.”
“But that’s not why we lost the game tonight.”
The teams have a day off in Kelowna before game two on Saturday night. However, if they plan to skate on Friday, they will have to use a different rink as Prospera Place will not be available. Immediately after game one, preparations for a live concert by the Canadian band, Hedley, began feverishly. The ice may be ready for a morning skate on Saturday.
Post Game Interview: Jason Smith (click here)
Post Game Interview: Cal Foote (click here)
Ice Chips…Kelowna outshot Tri City, 39-32…Tri City was 3-for-3 on the power play while Kelowna was 0-for-4…Three stars were Dea, Geekie and Rasmussen…Announced attendance was 5,168.
(DUBNetwork thanks Kevin Bain and the Kelowna Rockets for the audio/video)