Sunday, December 4, 2016

Merkley finds the net twice in lopsided win

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Goaltender Jordan Papirny was the best player on the ice for the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday night in a 3-1 loss to the Kelowna Rockets. Had the 20 year-old been average, the Wheat Kings would have been embarrassed on the scoreboard. Papirny stood tall and kept the score close in the two goal setback. Nick Merkley scored twice, including the Teddy Bear Toss goal, as the home team cruised to their 16th win of the season. The Rockets owned the puck the majority of the night and the score could have been much more lopsided had the Edmonton product had an off night. At the other end of the ice, rookie goaltender Brodan Salmond was having a relatively easy night with a 17 save performance, which included a late third period penalty shot save on Wheat Kings forward Ty Lewis. Outside of a minor blip in a 2-1 loss in overtime Friday to the Spokane Chiefs, the Rockets clearly are resembling the type of team many people envisioned before the puck was dropped on the 2016-2017 season. This team, when all the horses are galloping hard, are not the middle of the pack team despite where they find themselves in the Western Conference standings.    
  • Merkley's Teddy Bear Toss goal was his first even strength goal of the season. Of the 8 goals he has scored this season, 7 have been on the power play. Merkley has 18 points, with only five of those coming even strength, The 19 year-old was named Saturday's 1st star.
  • Everyone knows the biblical story of David vs. Goliath, but how about Belcourt vs. Jameson? The Rockets rookie 16 year-old defenceman was involved in his first WHL fight with Jameson, who is 3 inches taller and 45 pounds heavier. Belcourt surprised many, including Jameson, by sending the 18 year-old to the ice with several tactical right fists to the face. If you don't believe me, check out the highlites on the Kelowna Rockets website. 
  • Rockets rookie Connor Bruggen-Cate escaped serious injury when he was hit by Brandon's Barron Thompson at the conclusion of the second period. With pushing and shoving along the end boards inside the Wheat Kings zone as the buzzer sounded, Thompson, who is 6'5 and 255 pounds, came flying into the scrum of players and delivered a high hit on Bruggen-Cate. Thompson was ejected from the game but should receive supplemental discipline for his actions. Surprisingly, up until last night, Thompson had just 4 penalty minutes this season.  
  • Kole Lind had his 6 game goal scoring streak snapped. The second year forward had an assist though to extend his point streak to 7 games.
  • Tomas Soustal earned an assist in the win. The 19 year-old now has points in 10 of his last 11 games.
  • I liked the fact the coaching staff got Jake Kryski into the mix on the power play. They need too with four players (Merkley, Dube, Thurkauf, Soustal) being lost to world junior camps next week. Kryski will need to be used on the power play with those four absent from the line-up and the 18 year-old needs to get his mojo back. It was nice to see him find the back of the net for the 6th time this season. 
  • Heading into the Christmas break with just one more home game remaining, the Rockets had another strong crowd with 5,546 taking in the game. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Rockets game notes vs. Chiefs

Michael Herringer - Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets close out a two game U.S Division road trip tonight against the Spokane Chiefs. This is the first of four meetings between these two teams this season. The Rockets make a return visit on February 26th. The Chiefs make two appearances in Kelowna on January 4th and February 17th. The Rockets are coming off a 4-1 win in Tri City Wednesday night. Tomas Soustal and Kole Lind each had a goal and an assist in the win. Nolan Foote and Jordan Borstmayer added singles in the team’s 15th win of the season. The Rockets out-shot the Americans 45-21 and were 0 for 2 on the power play but were 3 for 3 on the penalty kill. Tonight’s game is the start of 8 of their 10 games before Christmas being played on opposition ice. The only home games over that stretch are against Brandon (tomorrow) and Seattle (Wednesday). In the last five seasons the Rockets are 8-2-1-1 against the Chiefs including 4-1-1-0 in their last 6 visits to Spokane Arena.

Trade Winds Blow: The Kelowna Rockets and Regina Pats completed a trade Wednesday night. The Rockets acquired 19 year-old defenceman James Hilsandager and 17 year-old Erik Gardiner for 17 year-old defenceman Jonathan Smart. Gardiner was the Pats second round pick in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. Hilsandager was a 9th round pick. Smart was the Rockets first round pick in 2014.

Broadcasters Bits: The Rockets are playing the Chiefs for the first time since trading 19 year-old forward Tanner Wishnowski to Spokane October 17th for 16 year-old prospect Colum McGauley…The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only two teams in the WHL that have not lost in overtime this season….The Rockets have played a BC Division low 26 gamesThe Rockets have lost 6 times on home ice, the exact same number of losses as a season ago when the team was 27-6-3-0 at Prospera Place…The next time the Rockets face a BC Divisional cousin is December 27th when they host the Kamloops Blazers….The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 5-7-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets are 15-11-0-0 after 26 games. Last season the team was 19-6-1-0 after 26 games and 20-6-1-0 after 27 games….Michael Herringer has started in 9 of the last 10 games and 15 of the last 17…The Rockets are 6-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in 10 of the last 16 games …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99…The Rockets are the most penalized team in the WHL…Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) and Calvin Thurkauf (Switzerland) will play for their respective countries at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships in Montreal/Toronto.…Nick Merkley and Dillon Dube will attend Hockey Canada’s main camp December 11th vying for one of 22 spots on this year’s roster. Team Canada’s main camp runs December 11-14th in Blainville, Quebec. Merkley was a late cut last year…The Kelowna Rockets raised $7,554 dollars for men’s health during ‘Movember’. The goal was $5,000 dollars.

NHL Central Scouting: NHL Central Scouting has released its November ‘Players to Watch’ list. Defenceman Cal Foote is an ‘A’ prospect for next June’s draft. Kole Lind is a ‘B’ prospect while defenceman Jonathan Smart is a ‘C’ prospect. The NHL draft this year is in Chicago.

Who’s Hot? Tomas Soustal is riding a nine game point streak. The 19 year-old has goals in 9 of his last 12 games and has 10+12=22 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 8 of his last 13 games (5+10=15)…Kole Lind has points in 14 of his last 16 games (10+13=23)…Lind has goals in five straight games….16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in 6 of his last 10 games. Foote has 4+2=6 over that period…Merkley has points in 12 of his last 16 games (6+10=16).

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 7   Hilsendager, Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn, Thurkauf
18’s – 6   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond
17’s -  5   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Impressive on ice while executing trade off it

Jonathan Smart - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Was it the Kelowna Rockets most complete road game of the season? If not, darn close. Tomas Soustal and Kole Lind each with a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win Wednesday night at the Toyota Center against the Tri City Americans. The Rockets discipline was as sharp as it's overall play as the team put together back-to-back solid efforts after an impressive 3-2 overtime win Saturday against the Regina Pats. The team took only three minor penalties, all in the third period, limiting the WHL's third best power play to only three chances with the extra man. Outside of a short flurry in the first period, the Rockets were clearly the better team 5 on 5. Kole Lind, Nolan Foote and Jordan Borstmayer added singles in the teams 15th win of the season. The Rockets are in Spokane Friday night.
  • The shot clock was a good indicator of exactly how well the Rockets played. It was the greatest margin for the season as the Rockets fired 45 shots on net while surrendering only 21 against. Michael Herringer's best save came against Americans leading point producer Michael Rasmussen on a third period power play. The 17 year-old first round prospect has been held off the score-sheet in two games against the Rockets this season.  
  • Jake Kryski fighting? Yep. The 18 year-old found himself trading punches with Americans Brendan O'Reilly. I liked it. Kryski doesn't fight. It may have been his first tilt in the WHL and it showed something about his character. It showed that he plays with emotional and intensity, which isn't often evident in his body language on the ice. The fight was an encouraging sign for a player who often finds himself in ideal scoring areas but just can't finish. By my count, Kryski had three good scoring chances last night  but came away empty handed.   
  • Kole Lind has scored a goal in five straight games. The second year forwards 14th goal of the season matches his total from all of last season. 
  • Tomas Soustal, the games first star, had a goal and an assist and is now riding a 9 game point streak.
  • This won't be a popular opinion with WHL referee haters, but I thought the game was called exceptionally well by Jason Nissen and Mike Campbell. Both officials kept their whistles in their pockets and didn't make one soft call. Not one. They stayed out of it and the game took a quick 2 hours and 9 minutes to play. 
  • Jordan Borstmayer's goal was his first in 20 games. The second year forward has three goals this season, the exact same total in 61 games in his rookie campaign. 
  • The Rockets announce a trade with the Regina Pats late in the first period of last night's game. The team sent 17 year-old defenceman Jonathan Smart to the Pats for 17 year-old prospect Erik Gardiner and 19 year-old defenceman James Hilsendager. Smart was the Rockets first round bantam pick in 2014 while Gardiner was the Pats second round pick that same year. Gardiner is the younger brother of former PA Raiders sniper Reid Gardiner and was a Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League first team all-star with the Prince Albert Mintos last season. Hilsendager was the Pats 9th round bantam pick in 2012. The Lloydminster resident is expected to make his Kelowna Rockets debut Friday in Spokane.
  • Dan Marr, the director of NHL Central Scouting took in last night's game in Tri City.    

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Biggest win of the season?

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Kole Lind walked away from last night's 3-2 overtime win against the Regina Pats with a new suit and the game winning goal. The Kelowna Rockets leading scorer was named the McDermott's Men's Wear Player of the Month for November, and then promptly finished off a nice two way passing play with teammate Tomas Soustal in arguably the biggest win of the season. The willingness to compete at a high level against one of the elite teams in the WHL was eye popping. It clearly showed this team is significantly better than its record would indicate, but, but, if they don't play at that high compete level, they will remain in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference standings all season long.
  • Assistant Coach Kris Mallette hit it on the nose when he spoke about one key area that really impressed him. "Shot blocking", he said without hesitation on the post game show. Rodney Southam was terrific in that area and so were his teammates. I thought Devante Stephens also did a great job of sacrificing his body for the greater good of the team. As Mallette told me on the post game show, "If we play like that, we are going to win some hockey games".
  • Getting back to Stephens, is the 19 year-old not having a wicked season? After struggling mightily in 2015-2016, the switch has clicked in his game and he is making great reads with and without the puck. Stephens has 6 goals this season. 6! That is off the charts good for a player who often tiptoed in the offensive zone. Now he is a regular in that area and his wicked, wicked, wicked speed makes him a valuable asset on the blue line. Coach Mallette deserves create for being patient with this player and helping him turn his game around. 
  • How good was overtime? Wow. Do you like three on three? It was scary good with chances both ways. Who would have thought that Pats d-man Connor Hobbs would cough up the puck in his own zone in overtime and leading scorer Kole Lind would find himself on a two-on-one with Tomas Soustal? Soustal, who should have been named a game star with 3 points, feathered a pass back to Lind who scored his 13th goal of the season. Game over! 
  • My colleague Wayne Moore from the Castanet (Hey Wayne, I'm crediting you, so don't be afraid to return the favour ;) said it right when we chatted after the game. "Tomas Soustal is Leon Draisaitl lite". I agree with that. Soustal is more of a bull that Leon. Sure, Draisaitl had more skill, but Soustal has very good hands for a big man and deserves a shot of playing pro hockey. 'Sous' was in on all three goals the Rockets scored. If you want to be a big player you better show up in the big game. Soustal did just that.
  • Why is Adam Brooks playing his 20 year-old season in the WHL? Holy smokes is he good. A draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brooks was the Pats best player, outside of goaltender Tyler Brown, who was terrific. Brooks is always around the puck, slows down the play and his play in his own zone is razor sharp. Brooks is not a cheater in the ugly end...the defensive zone.
  • I think the Pats are a marvelous team. They really are. This was the 6th and final road game for them, yet they did not disappoint with their skill set, effort and overall team game. They have few shortcomings, and with the addition of one or two players, have a legitimate shot of becoming the first team since the 1992-93 Swift Current Broncos to be a Saskatchewan based team to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup. 
  • A real good conversation with Pats Head Coach John Paddock before the game. To say I know Paddock well would be an outright lie. That said, we had a good chat both on the record and off it. I like him. I like his team. He didn't approach me with the 'Let's get this over with attitude'. Paddock is a pro, is personable and his team is in exceptional hands with him guiding a squad that is high on talent, has a certain confidence that championship team must have, yet the veteran coach also doesn't pull punches when his team plays poorly.    
  • Excuses could have been used in this game for both teams. The Rockets were playing without top 4 d-man Gordie Ballhorn. The Pats were playing without leading scorer Sam Steel. The Rockets were playing with 10 forwards. So, essentially Jason Smith was running three forward lines. The Pats were playing the 6th and final game of a wicked road trip. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Rockets game notes - Saturday - vs. Pats

Shoot the Breeze Photo
Tonight’s Preview: After playing four straight games against teams in the BC Division, the Kelowna Rockets open a stretch of playing 12 consecutive games outside of the division. The Rockets host the Regina Pats in the lone meeting of the season between these two teams. Last season, in Regina, the Rockets were a 4-3 winner. Cal Foote, Cole Linaker, Dillon Dube and Justin Kirkland scored in the one goal victory. Jackson Whistle earned the win (December 11/2015). The Pats last made an appearance at Prospera Place on November 29/2014 in a 3-1 win. Rourke Chartier scored his 29th goal of the season in the setback. The Pats scored two shorthanded goals in the game. The Rockets are coming off a 6-2 loss in Victoria Tuesday night. Devante Stephens and Kole Lind scored in the teams’ 11th loss of the season. The Rockets were 0 for 7 on the power play and surrendered four power play goals against. Overall, the team has 10 wins in their last 14 games. The Rockets open a U.S Division road trip Wednesday in Tri City before traveling to Spokane Friday night. The next home game is one week from tonight against the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.

Smith’s Regina Pat Connection: Kelowna Rockets Head Coach Jason Smith played 128 regular season games over two seasons with the Pats from 1991-1993. Smith was named the WHL Defenceman of the Year in 92-93 after putting up 66 points (14+52=66) in 64 games. Smith was also named an Eastern Conference 1st team all-star. That season, Smith also won a gold medal for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. While with the Pats, Smith was drafted in the first round – 18th overall – by the New Jersey Devils.

Broadcasters Bits: The Rockets have three players born in Saskatchewan. Jordon Borstmayer hails from St. Breiux, Kole Lind is from Shaunavon while Rodney Southam is from Saskatoon…Did you know that Regina Pats Athletic Therapist Greg Mayer is from Kelowna?  Mayer has been with the Pats since 2004, the year the Rockets won the Memorial Cup…The Rockets have lost 6 times on home ice, the exact same number of losses as a season ago when the team was 27-6-3-0 at Prospera Place…The next time the Rockets face a BC Divisional cousin is December 27th when they host the Kamloops Blazers….The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 5-7-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets are 13-11-0-0 after 24 games. Last season the team was 18-5-1-0 after 24 games….Michael Herringer has started in 7 of the last 8 games and 13 of the last 15…The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in 9 of the last 14 games …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99…The Rockets are the most penalized team in the WHL.

NHL Central Scouting: NHL Central Scouting has released its November ‘Players to Watch’ list. Defenceman Cal Foote is an ‘A’ prospect for next June’s draft. Kole Lind is a ‘B’ prospect while defenceman Jonathan Smart is a ‘C’ prospect. The NHL draft this year is in Chicago.

Who’s Hot?: Tomas Soustal has goals in 7 of his last 10 games and has 8+9=17 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 8 of his last 11 games (5+10=15)…Kole Lind has points in 12 of his last 14 games (8+11=19)…Nick Merkley has goals in 5 of his last 10 games…16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in five of his last 8 games. Foote has 3+2=5 over that period…Merkley has points in 11 of his last 14 games (6+9=15)…Merkley played in his 200th career game Sunday night in Victoria.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 6   Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn
18’s – 7   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s -  6   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Power Outage!

Jon Howe Photo
  • Specialty teams were anything but for the Kelowna Rockets in a 6-2 drubbing Tuesday night against the Victoria Royals. The Rockets were 0 for 7 on the power play and surrendered 4 goals against on 7 chances when down by a man. It all added up to the teams five game road winning streak coming to an abrupt end. Devante Stephens and Kole Lind scored in the loss, the Rockets 11th of the season. Just when you think this group is taking several strides forward, they come crashing back to earth with a sub par effort.  
  • You knew the Royals would be more determined after looking listless Sunday in a 5-1 home ice loss. Victoria played more determined, finishing checks and getting strong goaltending from Griffen Outhouse. The Royals, despite playing without leading scorer Tyler Soy, earned a win in the eighth and final game of the longest home stand of the season. The Royals were able to win 6 of those 8 home games which is saying something, considering most teams that play that many consecutive home games usually have a hard time getting their engines going. The Royals remain four points up on the Rockets for third place in the BC Division.
  • Kole Lind played in his 100th career game and scored his team leading 12th goal of the season. Lind now has goals in 6 of his last 7 games.
  • Rodney Southam played in his 200th career game. Southam has played 137 of those with the Rockets organization.  
  • Despite the lopsided 6-2 loss, the Rockets are improving in an effort to generate offense. The team has scored 53 goals in their last 13 games. That is an average of 4.08 goals per game. In the teams first 11 games they managed to score only 23 goals or 2.09 goals per game.
  • It is hard to believe but the team has only 12 games left before the Christmas break. Of those 12, 9 of them are on the road. The only home games are against Regina, Brandon and Seattle.   

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Rockets game notes vs. Royals

Jonathon Howe Photo
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals meet for the third time this season. The Rockets are 2-0-0-0 in the seasonal series after a 6-4 win on home ice (October 26th) and a 5-1 victory Sunday in Victoria.  Rodney Southam scored twice in the 13th win of the season. Kole Lind, Nolan Foote and Leif Mattson, with his first WHL goal, scored in the 5-1 victory. Michael Herringer made 25 saves while the power play scored once on 4 chances. Overall, the team has 10 wins in their last 13 games. The Rockets next home game is next Saturday against the visiting Regina Pats.

Digging Deeper: Kole Lind has 2+3=5 in two games against the Royals this season…Rodney Southam has back-to-back two goal games against Victoria….Michael Herringer is 2-0-0-0 against the Royals with a goals against average of 2.50 and a save percentage of .909.

Broadcasters Bits: After tonight’s game, the Rockets will play 12 straight games against teams outside of the BC Division. The next time they face a BC Divisional cousin is December 27th when they host the Kamloops Blazers…These two teams are a combined 19-0-0-0 when leading after two periods….How evenly matched are these two teams? The Rockets have a record of 13-11-1-1 against the Royals in the last five seasonsThree of the Rockets next four games are on the road ….The Rockets have scored eight power play goals in their last four games. Of the 19 goals they have scored over that stretch, 8 of them have come with the extra man….The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 5-6-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets are 13-10-0-0 after 23 games. Last season the team was 17-5-1-0 after 23 games ….Rookie forward Leif Mattson returned to the lineup Friday after serving a four game suspension for a checking from behind penalty November 1st against Kamloops….Michael Herringer has started in six of the last seven games and 12 of the last 14…The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in 9 of the last 13 games …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99…November birthdays to remember. Lucas Johansen turned 19 on November 16th. Kyle Topping turned 17 on Friday while Nolan Foote turns 16 on November 29th. Head Coach Jason Smith turned 43 on November 2nd…The Rockets are the most penalized team in the WHL averaging 17.8 pims per game.

NHL Central Scouting: NHL Central Scouting has released its November ‘Players to Watch’ list. Defenceman Cal Foote is an ‘A’ prospect for next June’s draft. Kole Lind is a ‘B’ prospect while defenceman Jonathan Smart is a ‘C’ prospect. The NHL draft this year is in Chicago.

Octoberfest: After starting the month of October with a 3-0 shutout loss in Prince George (October 1st) the team was able to win 8 of their next 11 to close out the month of October. In November, the Rockets play 10 games with six of them on home ice. Six of those 10 will be played against BC Division based teams including a visit to Victoria on November 20th and 22nd.

Who’s Hot?: Tomas Soustal has goals in 7 of his last 9 games and has 8+8=16 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 8 of his last 10 games (5+10=15)…Kole Lind has points in 11 of his last 13 games (7+11=18)…Nick Merkley has goals in 5 of his last 9 games…16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in five of his last 7 games. Foote has 3+2=5 over that period…Merkley has points in 11 of his last 13 games (6+9=15)…Merkley played in his 200th career game Sunday night in Victoria.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 6   Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn
18’s – 7   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s -  6   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Monday, November 21, 2016

Rockets route Royals

Jonathon Howe photo
  • The Victoria Royals were prime for the picking and the Kelowna Rockets enjoyed the fruits of their labour in a convincing 5-1 win Sunday night at Save On Foods Memorial Arena. The home team came off an emotional victory Saturday night over the Regina Pats and simply put, looked uninspired from the opening face-off. That sluggish play allowed the Rockets to built up a 4-0 first period lead as they coasted to their 13th win of the season. Rodney Southam scored twice. Rookie Leif Mattson opened the scoring and Kole Lind and Nolan Foote also found the back of the net. The Royals were only interested when they were awarded seven power play chances. They had a few good looks and would score their only goal that way, but on this night, the damage in the opening 20 minutes was just too great. The Royals are now 1-7-1-0 when playing back-to-back games. The Rockets are now 2-0-0-0 in the seasonal series with a rematch set for Tuesday night.
  • It was good to see rookie Leif Mattson score his first career WHL goal. It came on a missed pass inside the Royals zone. The 17 year-old picked up the puck just inside the blue line and wired a hard, low shot blocker side on Victoria goaltender Griffen Outhouse. Outhouse, the first star in Saturday's win over Regina, mirrored the image of his teammates in front of him, often fighting the puck and looking out-of-sorts in the lopsided loss. 
  • Rodney Southam now has 6 goals this season, which is just two off his career high of 8 scored last season. Southam has scored four of his 6 goals in just two games. Southam plays in his 200th career game Tuesday night.
  • Nick Merkley celebrated his 200th career game with an assist.
  • Dillon Dube picked up an assist and now has 99 career points.  
  • The Rockets are now 5-6-0-0 in 11 games against BC Division teams this season. Not bad considering the team had just one win in their first five games against Kamloops/Prince George to start the season.  
  • The Rockets made an appearance in Victoria for the first time since that epic game 7 win last April.
  • The Rockets called up 3rd round bantam pick Ted Brennan for the game. A resident of Victoria, the 16 year-old forward had a few shifts late in the game. 
  • LA Kings Assistant General Manager Rob Blake took in last nights game.
  • Director of NHL Central Scouting, Dan Marr, also took in last night's game as he makes his way across the WHL getting a first hand look at various top rated prospects.

Rockets route Royals

Jonathon Howe photo
  • The Victoria Royals were prime for the picking and the Kelowna Rockets enjoyed the fruits of their labour in a convincing 5-1 win Sunday night at Save On Foods Memorial Arena. The home team came off an emotional victory Saturday night over the Regina Pats and simply put, looked uninspired from the opening face-off. That sluggish play allowed the Rockets to built up a 4-0 first period lead as they coasted to their 13th win of the season. Rodney Southam scored twice. Rookie Leif Mattson opened the scoring and Kole Lind and Nolan Foote also found the back of the net. The Royals were only interested when they were awarded seven power play chances. They had a few good looks and would score their only goal that way, but on this night, the damage in the opening 20 minutes was just too great. The Royals are now 1-7-1-0 when playing back-to-back games. The Rockets are now 2-0-0-0 in the seasonal series with a rematch set for Tuesday night.
  • It was good to see rookie Leif Mattson score his first career WHL goal. It came on a missed pass inside the Royals zone. The 17 year-old picked up the puck just inside the blue line and wired a hard, low shot blocker side on Victoria goaltender Griffen Outhouse. Outhouse, the first star in Saturday's win over Regina, mirrored the image of his teammates in front of him, often fighting the puck and looking out-of-sorts in the lopsided loss. 
  • Rodney Southam now has 6 goals this season, which is just two off his career high of 8 scored last season. Southam has scored four of his 6 goals in just two games. Southam plays in his 200th career game Tuesday night.
  • Nick Merkley celebrated his 200th career game with an assist.
  • Dillon Dube picked up an assist and now has 99 career point.  
  • The Rockets are now 5-6-0-0 in 11 games against BC Division teams this season. Not bad considering the team had just one win in their first five games against Kamloops/Prince George to start the season.  
  • The Rockets made an appearance in Victoria for the first time since that epic game 7 win last April.
  • The Rockets called up 3rd round bantam pick Ted Brennan for the game. A resident of Victoria, the 16 year-old forward had a few shifts late in the game. 
  • LA Kings Assistant General Manager Rob Blake took in last nights game.
  • Director of NHL Central Scouting, Dan Marr, also took in last night's game as he makes his way across the WHL getting a first hand look at various top rated prospects.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Rockets game notes vs. Giants

Tomas Soustal - Shoot the Breeze Photo
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets wrap up a four game home stand tonight against the visiting Vancouver Giants. This is the second meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rockets were a 6-4 winner back on November 4th. Tomas Soustal had a goal and two assists and was named the first star. Nick Merkley had two goals and one assist in the win. Michael Herringer made 30 saves in the victory. Following tonight’s game, these two teams won’t see each other until January 20th. In the final two months of the regular season, the Rockets and Giants will face one another 6 times. The Rockets are coming off a 4-2 loss Tuesday night to the visiting Prince George Cougars. Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf scored goals in the teams 10th loss of the season. Overall, the team has 8 wins in their last 11 games. Following this game, the Rockets play two road games in Victoria Sunday (November 20th) and Tuesday (November 22nd).  The Rockets play three games in the next six nights before hosting the Regina Pats Saturday November 26th.  In the big picture, the Rockets are riding a 20 game home ice winning streak against the G-Men. The last time the Giants won a game at Prospera Place was March 19, 2011 in a 4-3 victory. Andrej Stastny had 1+2=3 and scored the game winning goal while Adam Brown took the loss in goal.

Broadcasters Bits: Four of the Rockets next six games are on the roadDuring the Rockets 20 game home ice winning streak against the Giants, 14 of the games have seen the home team score 5 or more goals….The Rockets have scored six power play goals in their last two games. Of the 9 goals they have scored over that stretch, 6 have come with the extra man….The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 3-6-0-0 against BC based teams this season……The Rockets are 11-10-0-0 after 21 games. Last season the team was 15-5-1-0 after 21 games ….Rookie forward Leif Mattson returns to the lineup tonight after serving a four game suspension for a checking from behind penalty November 1st against Kamloops….Michael Herringer has started five straight games and 11 of the last 12…The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in 7 of the last 11 games …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99…November birthdays to remember. Lucas Johansen turned 19 on November 16th. Kyle Topping turns 17 today while Nolan Foote turns 16 on November 29th. Head Coach Jason Smith turned 43 on November 2nd.
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Injury Report: Riley Stadel has missed 7 games with an upper body injury. Gordie Ballhorn has missed 7 games with a lower body injury. Both were hurt in a game against the Victoria Royals on October 26th.

Octoberfest: After starting the month of October with a 3-0 shutout loss in Prince George (October 1st) the team was able to win 8 of their next 11 to close out the month of October. In November, the Rockets play 10 games with six of them on home ice. Six of those 10 will be played against BC Division based teams including a visit to Victoria on November 20th and 22nd.

Who’s Hot?: Tomas Soustal has goals in 6 of his last 7 games and has 7+7=14 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 7 of his last 8 games (5+8=13)…Kole Lind has points in 9 of his last 11 games (5+11=16)…Nick Merkley has goals in 5 of his last 7 games…16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in four of his last five games. Foote has 2+2=4 over that period……Merkley has points in 9 of his last 11 games (6+6=12)…Merkley is two games shy of 200 for his career.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 6   Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn
18’s – 7   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s -  6   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Rockets game notes vs. Cougars

Jansen Harkins
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play game three of a four game home stand tonight against the visiting Prince George Cougars. This is already the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rockets are 0-3-0-0 in the seasonal series, having been out-scored 9-2 in the first three games. These two teams last meet on October 1st, with the Cougars earning a 3-0 win. Following tonight’s tilt, these two teams won’t see each other until back-to-back games in Prince George on February 3rd and 4th. The Rockets are coming off a convincing 7-1 win Saturday night over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. Jake Kryski scored twice while Tomas Soustal, Calvin Thurkauf, Dillon Dube, Cal Foote and Kole Lind each had three point games. The Rockets power play scored four times in five opportunities. Overall, the team has 8 wins in their last 10 games. Following this game, the Rockets welcome Vancouver (Friday November 18th) before two road games in Victoria November 20th and 22nd.

Broadcasters Bits: The Rockets are 3-5-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets scored four power play goals against the Raiders Saturday night. When was the last time the Rockets scored four power play goals in a game? Last season, in Victoria, the team scored 4 times on 6 power play chances in a 6-4 loss to the Royals….The team scored five power play goals against the Cougars, September 27/2014, in an 8-2 win….Dillon Dube returned to the lineup Saturday night after missing the first 19 games of the regular season with a lower body injury suffered in Calgary Flames training camp. Dube had three assists playing on a line with Kole Lind and Nolan FooteThe Rockets are 11-9-0-0 after 20 games. Last season the team was 14-5-1-0 after 20 games….Nolan Foote returned to the lineup Saturday after winning a silver medal at the Under 17 World Challenge in Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Assistant Coach Travis Crickard was also a silver medal winner as Team Canada’s video coach….Rookie forward Leif Mattson is serving the fourth and final game of  a four game suspension for a checking from behind penalty last Tuesday against KamloopsThree of the Rockets next five games are on home ice….The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in 7 of the last 10 games …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99…November birthdays to remember. Lucas Johansen turns 19 on November 16th. Kyle Topping turns 17 on November 18th while Nolan Foote turns 16 on November 29th. Head Coach Jason Smith turned 43 on November 2nd.
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Injury Report: Riley Stadel has missed six games with a upper body injury. Gordie Ballhorn has missed six games with a lower body injury. Both were hurt in a game against the Victoria Royals on October 26th.

Octoberfest: After starting the month of October with a 3-0 shutout loss in Prince George (October 1st) the team was able to win 8 of their next 11 to close out the month of October. In November, the Rockets play 10 games with six of them on home ice. Six of those 10 will be played against BC Division based teams including a visit to Victoria on November 20th and 22nd.

Who’s Hot?: Tomas Soustal has goals in 5 of his last 6 games and has 6+7=13 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 6 of his last 7 games (4+8=12)…Kole Lind has points in 9 of his last 10 games (5+11=16)…Nick Merkley has goals in 5 of his last 6 games…16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in four  straight games (2+2=4)……Merkley has points in 8 of his last 10 games (6+5=11)…Merkley is three games shy of 200 for his career.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 6   Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn
18’s – 7   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s -  6   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rockets rock Raiders

Dillon Dube - Shoot the Breeze Photo
  • Can one player make a dramatic difference? If that one player is Dillon Dube, the answer is yes. With the 18 year-old injected into the Kelowna Rockets line-up Saturday night against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, the slick skating centreman showed no signs of rink rust. Playing on a line with rookie Nolan Foote and leading scorer Kole Lind, Dube chipped in with three assists in a lopsided 7-1 win. You couldn't but notice Dube out on the ice. His calm demeanour with the puck and his ability to distribute it to his teammates was clearly evident. Dube is a second round NHL draft pick of the Calgary Flames and sure looked like it in his 2016-2017 debut. Dube provided his team with scoring depth and induced a second power play unit that was equally as dangerous as the first. At the end of the night, the Rockets were 4 for 5 on the power play and Dube was named the 2nd star.
  • You had a good feeling this would be a good night in the offensive zone when the Rockets dominated the territorial play for the first 7 minutes of the game. Only Raiders goaltender Ian Scott was keeping it close until Calvin Thurkauf opened the scoring when defenceman Cameron Reagan took a delay of game penalty. Thurkauf ended the night as the first star with a goal and two assists. It was the 18 year-old's third-three point game of the season.
  • Tomas Soustal continues to impress, and frankly he should be showing off every time he is on the ice. If you are a 19 year-old player, you better be doing something special for your team. Soustal delivered with a power play goal of his own and chipped in with two assists. It was Soustal's fifth-multiple game of the season and the power forward has 7 points in his last three games.
  • It was nice to see Jake Kryski have offensive success. How can this guy not be a point a game player? The skill set is there. The finish, often times, is not. That said, the 18 year-old scored twice in Saturday's win for his first-multiple goal game of the season. Heading into last night's tilt, Kryski had just one goal in 13 games. He is far and away a better player to go through such a long dry spell. Let's hope this is the sign of more consistent play from an individual who is far too good not to see his name consistently on the score-sheet.
  • You have to be impressed with Kole Lind. The dude just scores. He doesn't need to be a one man show now that Dillon Dube and Nolan Foote are his line-mates.  Lind went about his business by scoring once and collecting two assists. The sophomore forward now has goals in three straight games as he inches towards the 100 games played mark in the WHL. Lind will reach that milestone next Tuesday in Victoria against the Royals.   
  • Cal Foote scored his first goal of the season with a third period wrister from the right face-off circle. It is hard to imagine that a defenceman with such a great shot has only found the back of the net once this season. But the elder Foote is so good at both ends of the ice, which makes him special. Foote, as NHL scouts can attest, is not a one trick pony. As for his younger brother Nolan....wow. Does anyone work as hard as Nolan? When it comes to expending energy and being a pain in the *ss to play against, Nolan has to be competing with captain Rodney Southam for top honours. 
  • Speaking of Nolan Foote, the still 15 year-old (turns 16 on November 29th) is going about his business with a four game point streak in his back pocket. He was missed while attending the Under 17's in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and his value to the team can not be understated. I can't think of a single night where I haven't noticed him make a contribution. With 5 points in only 8 WHL career games, the beautiful part of this story is the soft spoken forward is only going to get better.
  • Let's be honest, it was a rough outing for the Raiders. They were chasing the game the majority of the night. They had a glimmer of hope in the second period where they out-shot the home team, but scoring chances were few and far between. Who did I like from a Raiders perspective? Despite giving up 7 goals, defenceman Brendan Guhle clearly is one of the best skating blue liners I've witnessed this season. I also really liked rookie Zach Hayes. The 9th round pick was physical with at least two solid hits and played an inspired game.
  • This was a game the Rockets had to win. No excuses. The Raiders are in the lower portion of the Eastern Conference standings and it was time for the home team to prove that a 10-9-0-0 record is not indicative of the team they have iced over the first 19 games. Every player/coach/scout I've talked with believes the team is better than the record would indicate. I tend to agree, but it sure is nice they can prove it with solid play on the ice.  
  • It was nice to catch up with Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. It was enlightening to spend 15 minutes talking to 'Habber' about his playing career. In 2016, it marks 20 years since Habscheid elected to retire as a player. It is safe to say it was the best interview I have ever conducted with the architect of leading the Kelowna Rockets to a WHL title in 2003 and a Memorial Cup in 2004. The story telling was excellent. You have a chance to listen to it on an upcoming episode of the 'The Kelowna Rockets This Week', which airs Saturday's from 6 pm until 6:30 pm on AM 1150.    
  • It was great being back in the booth for the first time in 4 games. As weird as it may sound, the three hours while calling the game is always and will always be a fulfilling experience. 
  • Up next a date with the first place Prince George Cougars. Tuesday's game is a measuring stick to see if the Rockets indeed are a middle of the pack team or one that is finding its footing after what can only be described as a slow start.  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Rockets game notes vs. Raiders

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play game two of a four game home stand tonight against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. This is the lone meeting of the season between these two teams. Last season, in Prince Albert, the Rockets fell 3-1. Lucas Johansen scored the lone goal for the visitors at Art Hauser Centre. Jackson Whistle suffered the loss in goal. The Raiders last appearance in Kelowna was December 6/2014 when the Rockets earned a 1-0 win. Dillon Dube scored the lone goal while Jackson Whistle was named the first star with a 27 save shutout performance. The Rockets are coming off a 6-2 home ice loss last Saturday to the Medicine Hat Tigers. Kole Lind and Kyle Topping scored goals in the teams 9th loss of the season. Overall, the team has 7 wins in their last 9 games. Following this game, the Rockets welcome Prince George Tuesday (Oct 15th) and Vancouver (Friday November 18th). The Kelowna Rockets next road games are in Victoria on November 20th and 22nd.

Welcome Back: Raiders Head Coach Marc Habscheid and 20 year-old forward Austin Glover return to Kelowna tonight after playing a role in the team’s success over the years. Habscheid led the team to a WHL championship in 2003 and then a Memorial Cup title in 2004. Austin Glover, a second round bantam pick of the Rockets in 2011, played 77 regular season games before being traded to the Raiders December 10/2014 with Jesse Lees and two draft picks (2nd and 3rd rounder). In return the Rockets picked up defenceman Josh Morrissey and forward Gage Quinney.

Broadcasters Bits: Odd stat of the night. The Rockets haven’t played a game on November 12th since the 2011-2012 season. On November 12th of that year, in Vancouver, Brett Bulmer and Colton Sissons both scored in a 3-2 overtime loss. Jordon Cooke made 19 saves in the setbackThe Rockets are 10-9-0-0 after 19 games. Last season the team was 14-5-0-0 after 19 games and 14-5-1-0 after 20 games….Nolan Foote returns to the lineup tonight after winning a silver medal at the Under 17 World Challenge in Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Assistant Coach Travis Crickard was also a silver medal winner as Team Canada’s video coach….Rookie forward Leif Mattson is serving game three of a four game suspension for a checking from behind penalty last Tuesday against KamloopsFour of the Rockets next six games are on home ice….The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in six of the last nine games …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99…November birthdays to remember. Lucas Johansen turns 19 on November 16th. Kyle Topping turns 17 on November 18th while Nolan Foote turns 16 on November 29th. Head Coach Jason Smith turned 43 on November 2nd. Sorry coach for pointing that out!!
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Octoberfest: After starting the month of October with a 3-0 shutout loss in Prince George (October 1st) the team was able to win 8 of their next 11 to close out the month of October. In November, the Rockets play 10 games with six of them on home ice. Six of those 10 will be played against BC Division based teams including a visit to Victoria on November 20th and 22nd.

Who’s Hot?: Tomas Soustal has goals in four of his last six games and has 5+5=10 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has points in five of his last six games (3+6=9)…Kole Lind has points in eight of his last nine games (4+9=13)…Nick Merkley has goals in four of his last five games…16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in three straight games (2+1=3)…The team has scored shorthanded goals in two of its last four games……Merkley has points in 7 of his last 9 games (5+5=10)…Merkley is four games shy of 200 for his career.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 6   Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn
18’s – 7   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s -  6   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Monday, November 7, 2016

This sucks

Being injured as an athlete is frustrating. I've been there, so I have first hand knowledge of what it's like being unable to help your team. It is no fun. Despite wanting to play, your body just won't allow it to happen.

I've been dealing with a debilitating injury, which may seem minor to some, but it is a realistic problem for those who have been inflicted with severe lower back pain. A week ago today, my back went out on me. In an effort to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, I went for a workout and picked up a heavy weight from the gym floor with my right arm. Something in my lower back went out and dropped me to my knees in excruciating pain. While I was able to make it home, once I lied down on my bed, I was literally unable to move. It was both scary and painful. I went through a series of back spasms that can only be described as taking my breath away. It is the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced in my 48 years on this planet. 

Try as I might, I couldn't make a quick recovery and bed rest and time were required in order to get back in the broadcast booth. Thanks to the quick actions of Dr. Mike Bobyn, who was able to prescribe pain killers and muscle relaxers, I was able to make the slow recovery which eventually allowed me to walk again and take the stairs in my two storey home. It was only a pipe dream a few days prior. 

It was frustrating not being able to be in the broadcast booth calling Rockets games. I had to come to the realization that games Tuesday, Friday and Saturday were just not feasible. It was the first time in my 22 years as a WHL broadcaster where I was forced to miss three straight games. It felt like 30 and my body felt like I was 90. Fortunately, I had the ability to call on Kevin Parnell to take the reins and call the action while I was bedridden. 'Parny', as I like to call him, is a faithful friend and I appreciate him for carrying the mail during my absence. 

Having a severe back injury takes time to heal, and I am not out of the woods by a long shot. Stretching and a good relationship with my chiropractor will become common place from now on.
I have learned the hard way that an ounce of prevention is like a pound of cure and it's best to listen to your body or it will eventually break down.

Everyday I am making small improvements. The pain is less and the range of motion is greater. I also have a greater appreciation for those who suffer, to even a greater degree than I have, with lower back pain.

I look forward to being BACK in the broadcast booth Saturday night.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Rockets game notes vs. Giants

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets take a three game road winning streak into tonight’s game with the Vancouver Giants. The Rockets have previously won road games over Seattle and Portland (twice). The Rockets last road loss was a 5-0 setback in Red Deer back on October 8th.  This is the first of eight meetings between these two teams this season. The Giants return the favour November 18th. In the last five seasons, the Rockets are 21-3-0-0 against the G-Men including 9-3-0-0 in their last 12 visits to the Lower Mainland. The Rockets are coming off a 5-1 home ice loss to the Kamloops Blazers Tuesday night. Nick Merkley scored the lone goal in the team’s first loss in seven games. Following this game, the team is at home tomorrow night to the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers to open a four game home stand.

Octoberfest: After starting the month of October with a 3-0 shutout loss in Prince George (October 1st) the team was able to win 8 of their next 11 to close out the month of October. In November, the Rockets play 10 games with six of them on home ice. Six of those 10 will be played against BC Division based teams including a visit to Victoria on November 20th and 22nd. The Rockets also enjoy a visit from Prince Albert on November 12th and Regina on November 26th, where they face Eastern Division teams they have failed to beat so far this season after losses to visiting Swift Current and Saskatoon.

Broadcasters Bits: Rookie forward Leif Mattson is serving game one of a four game suspension for a checking from behind penalty Tuesday against KamloopsFour of the Rockets next five games are on home ice. The only road game over that stretch is tonight in Vancouver/Langley….Devante Stephens and Jake Kryski each played in their 150th career games Sunday in Portland….The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season...Devante Stephens three goals Saturday in Portland were the first by a Rockets d-man since Riley Stadel scored three goals vs. Lethbridge in 2013..Nick Merkley has been named an associate captain for Team WHL, which will face the Russian Selects in the CHL Canada Russia Series….The Rockets have opened the scoring in three of the last six games….The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in five of the last seven games….Sixteen year-old Nolan Foote won’t play in tonight’s game. Foote is one of 66 players participating in the 2016 Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario October 27th to November 5th. Assistant Travis Crickard is a video coach for Team Canada at the event …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99….Three members of the Kelowna Rockets will represent the WHL and Hockey Canada, at the CHL Canada-Russia series. Team WHL, who’s roster consists of Nick Merkley, Dillon Dube and Cal Foote, will compete against the Russian Selects in games Monday November in Prince George and Tuesday in Edmonton.   

Who’s Hot?: Tomas Soustal has goals in three of his last four games and has 4+2=6 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has a four game point streak (2+4=6)…Kole Lind has points in six of his last seven games (2+8=10)…Nick Merkley has goals in three straight games…16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in three straight games (2+1=3)..The team has scored shorthanded goals in two of its last three games……Merkley has points in 6 of his last 7 games (3+4=7).

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 6   Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn
18’s – 7   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s -  6   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rockets/Blazers game notes

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the surging Kamloops Blazers in a BC Division showdown tonight at Prospera Place. This is the third meeting of the season, with the teams splitting the first two games. The Blazers roared to a 9-2 win on September 23rd before the Rockets regrouped for a 5-1 home ice win a night later. Following tonight’s game, we won’t see the Blazers until December 27th. The Rockets are riding high in the saddle with a six game winning streak after two victories in Portland on the weekend. Tomas Soustal scored the game winning goal with just over 8 minutes left in the third period in Sunday’s 3-2 win. Brodan Salmond made 42 saves for his first win of the season. Nick Merkley and Rodney Southam added singles in the 9th win of the season. That victory came on the heels of a 5-3 win against the Winterhawks Saturday night. Devante Stephens had the hat trick. During this six game winning streak, the Rockets have beaten Everett (4-3 OT), Tri City (4-2), Seattle (5-1), Victoria (6-4) and Portland (5-3) and (3-2). Following this game, the team is in Vancouver Friday night (Langley) before hosting the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday.

Winning Ways: The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 27-15 during the six game winning streak. Only two of the six games have been decided by a single goal. The Rockets have scored four or more goals in 5 of the 6 games with the power play striking for no less than a goal in four of the six games. The power play is 7 for 26 (27%) over that stretch while the penalty killing until has allowed 4 goals against in 31 kills. This winning streak (6 games) is the longest since 2014-2015 when the team started the season 10-0-0-0.
Octoberfest: After starting the month of October with a 3-0 shutout loss in Prince George (October 1st) the team was able to win 8 of their next 11 to close out the month of October. In November, the Rockets play 10 games with six of them on home ice. Six of those 10 will be played against BC Division based teams including a visit to Victoria on November 20th and 22nd. The Rockets also enjoy a visit from Prince Albert on November 12th and Regina on November 26th, where they face Eastern Division teams they have failed to beat so far this season after losses to visiting Swift Current and Saskatoon.
Broadcasters Bits: Five of the Rockets next six games are on home ice. The only road game over that stretch is Friday in Vancouver….Devante Stephens and Jake Kryski each played in their 150th career games Sunday in Portland….The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season...Devante Stephens three goals Saturday in Portland were the first by a Rockets d-man since Riley Stadel scored three goals vs. Lethbridge in 2013..Nick Merkley has been named an associate captain for Team WHL, which will face the Russian Selects in the CHL Canada Russia Series….The Rockets have opened the scoring in three of the last five games….The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in five of the last six  games….Sixteen year-old Nolan Foote won’t play in tonight’s game. Foote is one of 66 players participating in the 2016 Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario October 27th to November 5th. Assistant Travis Crickard is a video coach for Team Canada at the event …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99….Three members of the Kelowna Rockets will represent the WHL and Hockey Canada, at the CHL Canada-Russia series. Team WHL, who’s roster consists of Nick Merkley, Dillon Dube and Cal Foote, will compete against the Russian Selects in games November 7th in Prince George and November 8th in Edmonton. The Rockets 
Who’s Hot?: Tomas Soustal has goals in three straight games and has 4+2=6 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has a three game point streak (2+3=5)…Kole Lind has points in six straight games (2+8=10)…Nick Merkley has goals in back-to-back games…16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in three straight games (2+1=3)..The team has scored shorthanded goals in back-to-back games…Merkley has points in 5 of his last 6 games (2+4=6).

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 6   Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn
18’s – 7   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s -  6   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150