CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3-29-18

Western Hockey League

#3 Kelowna Rockets 3 @ #7 Tri-City Americans 5 (Game 4)
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Americans win series 4-0

D Cal Foote, KEL: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoffs Totals: 4 GP, 1-4-5, -4, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 60 GP, 19-51-70, +31, 46 PIM
‘15-‘16 Totals: 71 GP, 6-51-57, +39, 41 PIM

Morgan Geekie (CAR, 2017 3rd round pick) notched his second hat trick of the series, leading the Americans in a shocking sweep of Kelowna and advancing to the WHL Western Conference semifinals. Dillon Dube (CGY, 2016 2nd round pick) scored twice for the Rockets, once on the power play in which Foote tallied his fourth assist of the series and his fifth point. Kelowna fought hard to keep the series alive, knotting the game three times at 1-1, 2-2, and 3-3, before Geekie scored two of this three goals in the last minute of the game to give Tri-City the dramatic series sweep in front of 3,000+ fans at the Toyota Center.

The loss all but draws a close to the junior career of the WHL Western Conference Defenseman of the Year and Bolt prospect Cal Foote. He will surely join the Lightning’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse as that team finishes up their regular season and prepares for what would hope to be a deep Calder Cup playoff run. Foote brings the potential of a big minute eater for that team's Top 4 and player that can be the motor to an offense in transition. And with Foote turning 20 on December 13, 2018, he will be eligible to begin AHL play for the 2018-19 season out of camp this fall, so there is really no reason for Foote to return to juniors for an overage season after racking up 70 points and goal shy of 20.

In addition to an ATO contract with Syracuse for the remainder of this season, I’m sure a three-year entry level contract will happen rather quickly now that Foote and the Rockets have been eliminated from Memorial Cup contention. And with the organization lean on right-handed defensemen, Andrej Sustr as a pending UFA at season’s end, and Jake Dotchin perhaps hitting a ceiling in his own development, a spectacular NHL camp this fall could even see Foote make the Lightning squad, especially if Braydon Coburn is dealt at the NHL draft in June. But surely by 2019, with the contracts of Coburn, Girardi, Stralman, and McDonagh expiring, Foote’s time in Syracuse will likely be a short one.