Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rockets vs. Hurricanes

Brodan Salmond may get first start since November 4th
Game Night Preview: The Kelowna Rockets host the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the second of three times this season. The seasonal series closes January 24th in Lethbridge. These two teams met back on November 17th in the Rockets 7-4 home ice win. Dillon Dube scored twice while Cal Foote had four assists. The Rockets are coming off a 3-2 road loss Saturday in Vancouver. Connor-Bruggen-Cate and Leif Mattson scored in the loss, the teams’ first road setback in six games. Overall, the Rockets have won 9 of their last 11 games with wins over Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Kamloops (twice), Victoria, Tri City, Calgary, Spokane and Seattle. The Rockets are in Seattle Friday before hosting the Victoria Royals Saturday night.

Tidbits: The Rockets faced Hurricanes goaltender Logan Flodell when he was a member of the Swift Current Broncos. Flodell made 37 saves in a 5-1 win back on December 13th…Hurricanes 20 year-old Brad Morrison is the brother-in-law to former Kelowna Rockets captain Josh Gorges…Lethbridge defenceman Calen Addison is representing the WHL at the CHL Top Prospect Game later this month in Guelph, Ontario. The Rockets have no players participating in the game.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets made a deal with the Lethbridge Hurricanes January 8th, acquiring the playing rights to 19 year-old forward Ryan Bowen for a 8th round bantam pick. Ryan Bowen is the older brother of prospect Ethan Bowen….The Rockets made a deal January 7th with the Prince Albert Raiders, sending 17 year-old defenceman Konrad Belcourt to PA for a 5th and 8th round pick…The Rockets have 15 wins in their last 20 games with those four losses coming to Moose Jaw, Brandon, Swift Current, Tri City and Vancouver…The Rockets record after 43 games this season is 27-13-2-1. Last season the hockey club was 25-15-3-0 after 43 games….James Porter was named the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week ending December 31st after posting a 2-0-0-0 record including one shutout with a goals against average of 0.48 and a save percentage of .987…The Rockets have four hat-tricks this season from Carsen Twarynski (two vs. Portland/one vs. Prince George), and Kole Lind (vs. Prince Albert and Kamllops)…Lind had three goals in a game against the Kamloops Blazers in December, 2015…The Rockets have sent 17 players to Canada’s roster at the World Junior… The Rockets had their 13 game home ice winning streak snapped January 5th vs. Seattle.…The Rockets are 4 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube Carsen Twarynski (twice). The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 12-4-0-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets are 21-1-0-1 when leading after 2 periods…The Rockets are 20-3-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game….Erik Gardiner has missed 29 games after being injured October 28th vs. Prince George…The Rockets were 9-4 without Dube at the World Junior’s….Kole Lind is riding a 12 game point streak. Lind has 9+13=22 over that stretch….Carsen Twarynski has 5 goals in his last 6 games….Kyle Topping has points in 11 of his last 13 games. Not bad for an 11th round WHL bantam pick…Upcoming birthdays: January 27th, Wil Kushniryk, January 28th, Ted Brennan, January 29th - Kaedan Korczak.    

Milestones: Connor Bruggen-Cate played in his 100th game December 30th vs. Victoria…Kyle Topping played in his 100th career game January 10th…Jack Cowell played in his 100th career game January 12th in Seattle…Head Coach Jason Smith coached his 100th career regular season game against the Kootenay Ice on December 2nd…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game November 14th vs. Oil Kings.  

Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 5   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 9   Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 2   Korczak, Basran

NHL Drafted Players: Cal Foote (Tampa Bay 2017), Kole Lind (Vancouver 2017), Dillon Dube (Calgary 2016), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia 2016), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota 2016).  

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Rockets flat in BC Division battle

Connor Bruggen-Cate - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • The Kelowna Rockets have often faced shoddy opposition goaltending this season. Saturday night in Vancouver/Langley wasn't one of those times. Giants starter David Tendick was solid, leading his team to a 3-2 win. Tendick made several timely stops, including a point blank chance against Rockets leading scorer Kole Lind and then two tremendous saves in a ten second sequence in the third period against Braydyn Chizen and Connor Bruggen-Cate. In a season where I'd say goaltending across the league is very, very average, Tendick's exploits were a bright spot for a 18 year-old who was named the second star with a 28 save performance. The loss, the Rockets second in four meetings against the Giants this season, has the two team's separated by 1 point in the BC Division standings. The Rockets do hold two games in hand.
  • While Tendeck was sharp in the Giants goal, I think it would be fair to suggest the Rockets top end forwards were not. I thought it was a really quiet night for Lind, Carsen Twarynski and Kyle Topping. Lind's first period scoring chance was really his only one of the game. Twarynski, named the third star, also had a quiet game for a player knocking on the door of 30 goals. Topping, who has points in 11 of his last 13 games, also had a very uneventful evening. In a game against division leaders, those three can't be innocent bystanders. Twarynski and Topping combined for only three shots on goal. Lind had a total of five under the watchful eye of Vancouver Canucks Senior Advisor Stan Smyl who took in the game.
  • If you think I am being hard on the top end players, it is a fact that you will only go as far as those players carry you. Let's use this analogy. If a lead singer of a rock group has tone or pitch problems, the band, no matter how well they play the guitar or drums, will be considered unlistenable. The lead singer, or in this case, leading scorers need to be at their best.
  • Secondary scoring will be pivotal for the Rockets to have long term playoff success, but it is never good when only Leif Mattson and Connor Bruggen-Cate are hitting the score-sheet. Bruggen-Cate's one timer from the left face-off circle was a nice goal, his career high 10th of the season. The third year forward now has 4 goals in his last 6 games. Mattson's passing attempt went off a Giants defender and through the legs of Tendick to tie the score at two. It was Mattson's 14th goal of the season as he generated a team high 6 shots on net. Mattson has points now in 7 of his last 8 games. I would say those two played the hardest among the forward core and were rewarded offensively for it. 
  • While the power play was a key factor in a 6-2 win in Seattle Friday night, it let them down a night later. In a scoreless tie, the Rockets were granted three consecutive power plays in the first period but couldn't convert. The visitors could have taken over the game at that point but allowed the Giants to hang around before eventually the home team scored three of the final four goals of the game.      
  • The Rockets played the game without Dillon Dube who is sidelined with the flu. Dube has missed 13 straight games either playing for Canada or become ill at tournaments end.  We should see the 19 year-old back in the line-up Wednesday against Lethbridge.
  • Kole Lind did extend his point streak to 12 games with an assist on Connor Bruggen-Cate's opening goal.
  • Brodan Salmond was James Porter Junior's back-up in both games. Sixteen year-old Roman Basran is still be evaluated after being injured in the first period of last Wednesday's 7-4 home ice win over Spokane. 
  • The Rockets five game road winning streak came to an end. The team had picked up wins over PA, Saskatoon, Kmaloops, Calgary and Seattle before losing at the Langley Events Centre.
  • While Cal Foote had his 5 game point streak snapped Saturday night, he made a goal saving stop in the crease when Rockets goaltender James Porter Junior lost sight of the puck behind him and Foote came in and used his glove to swipe the puck from going over the goal line. We've seen that play before haven't we!
  • The Rockets are now 19-7-0-0 in their last 26 games. The Giants are 18-6-2-0 over that same stretch. In the BC Division, it will be a fight to the finish. 
  • The Rockets have a busy week ahead of them. After a home game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes Wednesday night, the team again returns to Seattle for the second time in a week on Friday. The Rockets then rush home to face the Victoria Royals Saturday night. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Thumping the T-Birds


Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • A week ago, the Seattle Thunderbirds ended the Kelowna Rockets season high 13 game home ice winning streak. It was only fitting seven days later that the Rockets ended the T-Birds 9 game point streak.  Carsen Twarynski scored his 28th and 29th goals of the season Friday night in the Rockets 6-2 win at ShoWare Center. Outplayed a week ago on home ice, the roles were reversed in the rematch of Western Conference foes. This time it was the Rockets that took the play to the T-Birds, striking for four power play goals and snuffing out any momentum by killing off five penalty killing chances. Leif Mattson with two goals, Jack Cowell and Colum McGauley also scored in the teams’ 27th win of the season.
  • The power play was terrific in the Rockets 9th win in 10 games. It set the tone with two quick strikes when the visitors were granted a 5 on 3. Twarynski opening the scoring before Cowell, playing in his 100th career game, made it 2-0 with another power play goal and the Rockets took over the game. Owning the third best unit in the league, it simply outworked the Seattle penalty killing unit to loose pucks.
  • Two crazy plays stood out in this game.  The first came in the second period when a scrum occurred in front of the Kelowna Rockets bench. With almost everyone focusing on the pushing and shoving between the two team's, rookie forward Colum McGauley collecting the puck in the neutral zone, skated on right wing and had a clear lane to the net. The 17 year-old, who has been a healthy scratch more times than he’s been in the line-up, went in on a breakaway and easily beat Seattle goaltender Liam Hughes with a quick shot – blocker side. It was McGauley second career goal and was his first game winner in the WHL.
  • The other strange play came late in the third period when the T-Birds pulled their goaltender to make a late charge. Rockets forward Leif Mattson won a puck inside the Seattle blue-line and fired it at the wide open goal. T-Birds overage defenceman Austin Strand threw his stick at the puck, deflecting it wide.  The back official quickly signaled a goal as the puck would have clearly entered the net had the stick not been thrown by the T-Bird defender.
  • Held pointless, I thought Nolan Foote had a real good game. The second year forwards battle level was excellent and he appeared to be physically engaged in the game. It looked like a carryover from his performance Wednesday night against the Spokane Chiefs where he hit the goal post three times. It may sound strange to suggest a pointless player played above average, but that’s how I saw it.
  • Cal Foote was named the first star for a second straight game. After picking up a goal in his first game back from the World Junior Hockey Championships, the 19 year-old had three assists in the victory.
  • Kole Lind extended his point streak to 11 games with an assist.
  • The win moved the Rockets three point up on the idle Vancouver Giants in the fight for first place in the BC Division heading into tonight's tilt between the two teams here in Langley. The Rockets are 2-1-0-0 in the seasonal series with a win and a loss at the LEC. 
  • There has been much excitement in the Seattle/Kent area over talk of the NHL granting an expansion franchise to begin play in 2020-2001. You would figure some of the current employees with the T-Birds would be ideal candidates to fill some of the positions should the NHL become a reality in Washington State. 
    

Friday, January 12, 2018

Rockets/T-Birds preview

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Game Night Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open a mini two game road trip tonight against the Seattle Thunderbirds. This is the first visit to the ShoWare Center since last season’s Western Conference championship series, where in game five, the T-Birds earned a 5-3 win. In that game, the Rockets out-shot the T-Birds 40-24, yet Seattle struck for three power play goals. In their most recent meeting, a week ago at Prospera Place, the T-Birds scored two-third period goals in a 6-4 win. Leif Mattson, Gordie Ballhorn, Kyle Topping and Carsen Twarynski scored in the loss, snapping the Rockets 13 game home ice winning streak. How crazy is this? These two teams battled last Friday, now tonight and meet again next Friday, again here at ShoWare Center. The seasonal series ends February 23rd at Prospera Place. The Rockets are coming off a 7-4 win over the Spokane Chiefs Wednesday night. Kyle Topping scored twice in the win while Carsen Twarynski had three assists. Overall, the Rockets have won 8 of their last 9 games with wins over Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Kamloops (twice), Victoria, Tri City, Calgary and Spokane. The Rockets are in Vancouver tomorrow night before hosting Lethbridge on Wednesday at Prospera Place.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets have received goals from defenceman in three consecutive games. Gordie Ballhorn, James Hilsendager, Braydyn Chizen, Cal Foote and Kaedan Korczak have all found the back of the net over that periodThe Rockets made a deal with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Monday, acquiring the playing rights to 19 year-old forward Ryan Bowen for a 8th round bantam pick. Ryan Bowen is the older brother of prospect Ethan Bowen….The Rockets made a deal last Sunday with the Prince Albert Raiders, sending 17 year-old defenceman Konrad Belcourt to PA for a 5th and 8th round pick…The Rockets have 14 wins in their last 18 games with those four losses coming to Moose Jaw, Brandon, Swift Current and Tri City…The Rockets record after 41 games this season is 26-12-2-1. Last season the hockey club was 23-15-3-0 after 41 games….James Porter was named the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week ending December 31st after posting a 2-0-0-0 record including one shutout with a goals against average of 0.48 and a save percentage of .987…The Rockets have four hat-tricks this season from Carsen Twarynski (two vs. Portland/one vs. Prince George), and Kole Lind (vs. Prince Albert and Kamllops)…Lind had three goals in a game against the Kamloops Blazers in December, 2015…The Rockets have sent 17 players to Canada’s roster at the World Junior…Kyle Topping and Libor Zabrasky are both rated as ‘C’ prospects for June’s NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting. Topping was not on the ‘Players to Watch’ list in October before appearing in November’s rankings…The Rockets had their 13 game home ice winning streak snapped last Friday night. The team racked up wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George (twice), Vancouver, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Kootenay and Kamloops (twice), Victoria and Tri City….The Rockets are 4 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube Carsen Twarynski (twice). The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 9-5-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….The Rockets are 12-3-0-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets are 20-1-0-1 when leading after 2 periods…The Rockets are 19-2-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game….Erik Gardiner has missed 27 games after being injured October 28th vs. Prince George…The Rockets were 7-3 without Dube and Foote at the World Junior’s.
Milestones: Connor Bruggen-Cate played in his 100th game December 30th vs. Victoria…Kyle Topping is played in his 100th career game Wednesday night….Jack Cowell plays in his 100th career game tonight….Head Coach Jason Smith coached his 100th career regular season game against the Kootenay Ice on December 2nd…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game November 14th vs. Oil Kings. 
Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 5   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 9   Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 2   Korczak, Basran
NHL Drafted Players: Cal Foote (Tampa Bay 2017), Kole Lind (Vancouver 2017), Dillon Dube (Calgary 2016), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia 2016), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota 2016).  

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Third period rally in home ice win

Kaedan Korczak all smiles after his 1st WHL goal - Shoot the Breeze photo
  • Dan Lambert’s first game against his old team earlier this season was highly successful. The personable head coach's first visit to Kelowna? Not so much. The Spokane Chiefs skated away with a 6-2 win over the Rockets in Spokane in late November against the team Lambert helped win a WHL title with in 2015. Lambert was back at Prospera Place for the first time Wednesday night where his junior hockey coaching career started as an assistant to Ryan Huska in 2009-2010. Five seasons later he was leading the Rockets to the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Kyle Topping spoiled Lambert’s return with a three point performance (2+1=3) in a 7-4 win before a crowd of 5 thousand three hundred 62.  The Rockets scored three-third period goals from Braydyn Chizen, Topping and Kole Lind in the teams 26th victory of the season. The win kept the Rockets one point up on Vancouver in the fight for first place in the BC Division.
  • Before the game, Cal Foote and Dillon Dube were recognized for winning gold for Canada at the most recent world junior hockey championship. While Foote made his way to the red carpet to shake the hand of general manager Bruce Hamilton before accept his gift of a Hugo Boss suit, it was announced on the PA system that Dube was unable to attend the game after falling ill following the tournament’s championship game. Both Dube and Foote will have the privilege of having their portraits added to the Kelowna Rockets ‘Wall of Fame’ located just outside the teams’ dressing room. That will likely happen this summer.
  • While Dube was unable to play against the Chiefs, Cal Foote made an immediate impact in his first game back. Named the first star,  Foote scored a key goal on the power play with a booming blast in the second period to give his team a 4-3 lead. Foote also was excellent defensively, initiated a perfect hip heck on an unsuspecting Chiefs forward and showed his brute strength by powering Spokane 20 year-old Zach Fischer into the gateway of the Rockets bench after a scrum occurred between a Chiefs player and Cal’s younger brother Nolan. 
  • With Foote back in the line-up, it took significant pressure away from both veteran defenders Gordie Ballhorn and James Hilsendager. Those two logged significant minutes while Foote was playing for Hockey Canada. Both overage d-man did a terrific job while Foote was away and need to be recognized for helping the team go 7 and 3 in 10 games without both Foote and Dube.
  • He finally got it! Rookie 16 year-old Kaedan Korczak scored his first career WHL goal. His seeing-eye wrister from the blue-line found its way past Spokane starting goaltender Donovan Buskey. You knew it was only a matter of time for the highly skilled defender to find the back of the net. Korczak is playing his best hockey of the season and is making significantly strides in his overall game. As for Buskey.....he was massively outplayed by the guy at the other end of the ice.
  • Let’s give James Porter Junior some credit here. The rookie goalie came into the game after 16 year-old fellow-rookie Roman Basran was injured early in the first period after making a sensational split save, denying the Chiefs of the opening goal of the game. Porter came in and didn’t miss a beat. His only error was failing to hop on a puck that he stopped, only to see Chiefs defenceman Jeff Faith, playing as a forward in the first period, beating him to it and jamming it into the net. I thought Porter was quick, engaged and made saves that could have turned the tide in the Chiefs favour with a sub par performance. Four words: an excellent relief appearance.         
  • I often find it interesting how different members of the media see the game. Was Spokane Chiefs forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan not terrific last night? Was he not worthy of a game star? Guess not. The second round pick of the LA Kings looked like one last night. Anderson-Dolan scored a goal, but his skating ability and overall dominance with the puck and his effort to get it into his grasp was outstanding. I don’t know, maybe I don’t get it and what catches my eye as being terrific, consistent play is out in left field.
  • It was a crazy day as the Western Hockey League trading deadline came to an end. It was the most bizarre series of days in my 18 years in the league. Teams were paying unprecedented prices for players (some not even considered elite) in an effort to give them a better chance at this year’s championship. I understand wanting to improve your team, heck, that’s why teams make deals, but making massive trades to obtain a significant numbers of players tells me a few things about that organization. The scouting is average to below average. I get the theory of making a few deals to solidify holes in your line-up, but if you fall that short of having quality talent and need to make massive, wholesale changes that force you to trade away high draft picks, prospects and jeopardize your future in the process, it makes no sense. Sure, your probability of success, while better, is still extremely risky.
  • On the flip side, while a few teams were willing to play ‘risky business’ at the trade deadline, I have to give both the Swift Current Broncos and Moose Jaw Warriors some slack here. A Saskatchewan based team rarely competes for the WHL title – ever. They come close sometimes, but no team since the 1993 Swift Current Broncos has ever won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. That’s 24 years of drought. 24 years! Moose Jaw was the last in the league finals in 2006, but they too lost out to eventual league champion Vancouver Giants. If either Swift Current or Moose Jaw can win a league title, maybe it’s a once in a lifetime thing? Sad but true. Therefore, why not throw out all the stops in an effort to win, even if it is at all costs with the likelihood it will cripple your team for years. Sadly, one of Swift Current and Moose Jaw will have their season come to an end when they possibly meet as early as the second round. 
  • The Rockets open a two game road trip with a stop in Seattle Friday and a first place date with the Vancouver Giants on Saturday. The Rockets will have to be ready for both. Seattle badly outworked them last Friday in a 6-4 loss while the Giants are arguably the hottest team in the Western Conference. Both games will be nothing short of terrific. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Old coach back in the building

Former Kelowna Rockets HC Dan Lambert returns to face old team
 Game Night Preview: The Kelowna Rockets are back on home ice hosting the Spokane Chiefs. This is the third meeting of the season between these two teams. Back on November 22nd the Chiefs earned a 6-2 victory before the Rockets scored a 4-2 win back on December 1st. After tonight’s game, the seasonal series ends March 3rd at Prospera Place. In the last 14 regular season games between these two teams, the Rockets are an impressive 8-2-4-0. Carsen Twarynski leads the Rockets in the seasonal series against the Chiefs with 2+1=3. Both power plays have struggled against one another. The Rockets are 1 for 7 while the Chiefs are 1 for 10. Overall, the Rockets have won 7 of their last 8 games with wins over Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Kamloops (twice), Victoria, Tri City and Calgary. The Rockets travel to Seattle Friday and Vancouver Saturday night.

Golden Boys: The Rockets were an impressive 7-3-0-0 without Dillon Dube or Cal Foote in their lineup. Both Dube and Foote return to game action tonight. Dube and Foote helped Canada earn gold at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Dube and Foote are the 9th and 10th members of the organization to win gold. Robb Gordon, Blake Comeau, Shea Weber, Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers, Jamie Benn, Josh Morrissey and Madison Bowey are all on that prestigious list.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets made a deal with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Monday, acquiring the playing rights to 19 year-old forward Ryan Bowen for a 8th round bantam pick. Ryan Bowen is the older brother of prospect Ethan Bowen….The Rockets made a deal Sunday with the Prince Albert Raiders, sending 17 year-old defenceman Konrad Belcourt to PA for a 5th and 8th round pick…The Rockets have 13 wins in their last 17 games with those four losses coming to Moose Jaw, Brandon, Swift Current and Tri City…The Rockets record after 40 games this season is 25-12-2-1. Last season the hockey club was 23-14-3-0 after 40 games….James Porter was named the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week ending December 31st after posting a 2-0-0-0 record including one shutout with a goals against average of 0.48 and a save percentage of .987…The Rockets have four hat-tricks this season from Carsen Twarynski (two vs. Portland/one vs. Prince George), and Kole Lind (vs. Prince Albert and Kamllops)…Lind had three goals in a game against the Kamloops Blazers in December, 2015…The Rockets have sent 17 players to Canada’s roster at the World Junior…Kyle Topping and Libor Zabrasky are both rated as ‘C’ prospects for June’s NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting. Topping was not on the ‘Players to Watch’ list in October before appearing in November’s rankings…The Rockets had their 13 game home ice winning streak snapped last Friday night. The team racked up wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George (twice), Vancouver, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Kootenay and Kamloops (twice), Victoria and Tri City….The Rockets are 4 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube Carsen Twarynski (twice). The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 9-5-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….The Rockets are 12-3-0-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets are 19-1-0-1 when leading after 2 periods…The Rockets are 19-2-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game….Erik Gardiner has missed 26 games after being injured October 28th vs. Prince George.

Milestones: Connor Bruggen-Cate played in his 100th game December 30th vs. Victoria…Kyle Topping is playing in his 100th career game tonight….Jack Cowell is playing in his 99th career game tonight – 1 shy of 100….Head Coach Jason Smith coached his 100th career regular season game against the Kootenay Ice on December 2nd…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game November 14th vs. Oil Kings.  

Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager          
19’s (1998) - 5   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 9  Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 2   Korczak, Basran

NHL Drafted Players: Cal Foote (Tampa Bay 2017), Kole Lind (Vancouver 2017), Dillon Dube (Calgary 2016), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia 2016), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota 2016).  


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Rockets vs. Hitmen

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Game Night Preview: The Kelowna Rockets make their lone appearance in Calgary when the two teams collide for the second time this season. The Hitmen beat the Rockets 4-3 back on October 13th. The Rockets are coming off a 6-4 home ice loss Friday night to the visiting Tri City Americans. The Rockets battled back from two-two goals deficits to tie the score at 4 after 40 minutes. The Americans would score twice in the third, snapping the Rockets 6 game winning streak. Carsen Twarynski, Leif Mattson, Gordie Ballhorn and Kyle Topping scored in the setback. Overall, the Rockets have won 6 of their last 7 games with wins over Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Kamloops (twice), Victoria and Tri City. The Rockets host Spokane Wednesday before traveling to Vancouver Friday and Vancouver Saturday night.

Golden Moment: Dillon Dube and Cal Foote helped Canada earn gold at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Dube and Foote are the 9th and 10th members of the organization to win gold. Robb Gordon, Blake Comeau, Shea Weber, Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers, Jamie Benn, Josh Morrissey and Madison Bowey are all on that prestigious list.

January Schedule: The Rockets play 13 games in January. Of those 13, six will be played on home ice. Six of those games are against teams in the Central Division including two each with Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. Five of those games are against US Division teams including three against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets out-scored the opposition 25-10 during a recent 6 game winning streak…The Rockets have 12 wins in their last 16 games with those four losses coming to Moose Jaw, Brandon, Swift Current and Tri City…The Rockets were 6-3-0-0 without Dillon Dube and Cal Foote at the World Junior Hockey Championship……The Rockets record after 39 games this season is 24-12-2-1. Last season the hockey club was 23-14-2-0 after 39 games….James Porter was named the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week ending December 31st after posting a 2-0-0-0 record including one shutout with a goals against average of 0.48 and a save percentage of .987…Carsen Twarynski has goals in 11 of his last 17 games…Twarynski had a career high 45 points with the Calgary Hitmen in 2015-2016. The 20 year-old is 2 points shy of that total this seasonThe Rockets have four hat-tricks this season from Carsen Twarynski (two vs. Portland/one vs. Prince George), and Kole Lind (vs. Prince Albert and Kamllops)…Lind had three goals in a game against the Kamloops Blazers in December, 2015…The Rockets have sent 17 players to Canada’s roster at the World Junior…Kyle Topping and Libor Zabrasky are both rated as ‘C’ prospects for June’s NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting. Topping was not on the ‘Players to Watch’ list in October before appearing in November’s rankings…The Rockets had their 13 game home ice winning streak snapped Friday night. The team racked up wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George (twice), Vancouver, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Kootenay and Kamloops (twice), Victoria and Tri City….The Rockets played their 16 hundredth regular season game in franchise history November 3rd in Victoria in a 4-2 win…The Rockets are 4 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube Carsen Twarynski (twice). The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 9-5-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….The Rockets are 12-3-0-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets are 19-1-0-1 when leading after 2 periods…The Rockets are 19-2-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game….Erik Gardiner has missed 25 games after being injured October 28th vs. Prince George.

Milestones: Connor Bruggen-Cate played in his 100th game last Saturday vs. Victoria…Kyle Topping is playing in his 99th career game tonight – 1 shy of 100….Jack Cowell is playing in his 98th career game tonight – two shy of 100….Head Coach Jason Smith coached his 100th career regular season game against the Kootenay Ice on December 2nd…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game November 14th vs. Oil Kings. 

Roster Stats:
Player total: 26
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 5   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 10  Porter, Foote, Belcourt, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 2   Korczak, Basran

NHL Drafted Players: Cal Foote (Tampa Bay 2017), Kole Lind (Vancouver 2017), Dillon Dube (Calgary 2016), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia 2016), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota 2016).  

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Escaping with two points


Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Hockey is a game of inches. Just ask Tri City Americans forward Issac Johnson. Or can I suggest you speak to Kelowna Rockets goaltender James Porter Junior? With the Rockets holding a 5-4 lead late in the third period, the Americans pulled their goaltender and were pressing for the equalizing goal. With a mad scramble in front of Porter and time ticking down, the puck squeezed out to the left side of the net where Johnson had a chance to bury the puck into a wide open portion of the goal to send the game into overtime. Instead, Johnson's shot hit the post and stayed out as the Rockets escaped with a one goal win. This was one of those games where the home team was extremely fortunate to earn two points. In fact, if you look back to the opening game between these two team's on October 17th,  Americans goaltender Beck Warm stole two points away from the Rockets in a 2-1 victory. So let's call it a little tit for tat in the seasonal series that ends with all four being decided by a single goal.
  • I never like the quote, "It allows others to step up" when describing how a team must adjust when a significant forward or defenceman is absent from the line-up. That said, there is some truth to it. Example? With the loss of Liam Kindree to injury, Connor Bruggen-Cate was elevated to a line with leading scorer Kole Lind and third leading point producer Kyle Topping. Bruggen-Cate, who is best served in a checking role on the third line, opened the scoring and closed the scoring for his first-two goal game of his career. It was nice to see the soft spoken forward find success offensively, but he must realize that he is most effective when he wins puck battles and make shows his value by being one of the teams best penalty killers.
  • While Beck Warm was the story in the season opener between the two teams, Americans head coach Mike Williamson didn't like what saw from his starting goaltender. Williamson pulled Warm after allowing two goals in the opening 15 minutes of the game. While I don't agree that Warm was the problem, I do agree that the change in goal did work. Twenty year-old Patrick Dea came in and played well and the Americans appeared to increase their level of play in the second and third period. 
  • Carsen Twarynski scored twice in last night's win. Now with 26 goals on the season. it was nice to see the 20 year-old respond with two goals from areas of the ice he should dominate. The second goal came from standing his ground in front of the Americans net and pocking in a rebound. I am a little surprised he doesn't score more goals from that area to be frank. Twarynski has great size and his release it elite. With 34 games left in the season, the third round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers should be knocking on the door on 40 goals this season.
  • Twarynski leads the team in power play goals with 9. In the previous three seasons combined, the Calgary resident had 4 power play goals. 
  • The one player who has really stood out for me since the Christmas break has been 16 year-old Kaedan Korczak. While entering his first season in the WHL with much fanfare, I thought the first round bantam pick just didn't look as poised with the puck as I expected when the season started in September. I thought he was very tentative after coming back from the Under 17's, but something clicked just prior to the prairie road trip and the 16 year-old is now showing why he was highly touted coming into the WHL bantam draft. Korczak is jumping up into the play, shooting the puck from the point and playing well defensively. Points don't matter to me when I look at his evolution as a player. Point will come. Colour Analyst Kent Simpson compared Korczak to former Edmonton Oil Kings captain Mark Pysyk. I like that thought, Pysyk, an eventual first round NHL pick of the Buffalo Sabres, had just 5 goals and 20 points in his rookie season in the WHL.  Pysyk would eventually become one of the best defenceman in the WHL and would play for Canada at the Under 18 and Under 20's where he would win a gold and a bronze medal. 
  • The Rockets have won 6 straight games, matching a season high 6 game winning streak that ended with a loss in Brandon on December 9th. The longest winning streaks this season is shared by Brandon and Portland with 10 consecutive victories. 
  • The Rockets have won 13 straight games on home ice. The team record, while the team has been based in Kelowna, is 23 consecutive games back in 2012-2013. 
  • Nolan Foote scored his 11th goal of the season in Wednesday's win. It was his first goal in 7 games for a player who had 19 goals a season ago at the tender age of 16. 
  • The Rockets close out a three game home stand Friday against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. It marks the first time these two teams have faced one another since last seasons Western Conference final. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Rockets vs. Americans preview

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Game Night Preview: Happy New Year. The Kelowna Rockets play game two of a three game home stand tonight against the visiting Tri City Americans. This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between these two teams. Two of the three games have been decided in overtime (4-3), with the Rockets suffering a 2-1 loss in Kennewick in regulation time back on October 17th. The Rockets are riding a 14 game home ice winning streak over the Americans. Tri City has not won at Prospera Place since September 29/ 2010 when they squeaked out a 4-3 victory. Brett Bulmer, Antoine Corbin and Evan Bloodoff scored in the setback. Adam Brown made 25 saves in the loss.  The Rockets are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Victoria Royals Saturday night. Leif Mattson scored the game winning goal while Roman Basran was named the 1st star with 36 saves. Overall, the Rockets have won 5 straight games with wins over Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Kamloops (twice) and Victoria.
Looking Ahead: The Rockets play 13 games in January. Of those 13, six will be played on home ice. Six of those games are against teams in the Central Division including two each with Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. Five of those games are against US Division teams including three against the Seattle Thunderbirds, the only team in the WHL they have failed to play this season.
Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 20-6 during the five game winning streak…The Rockets have 11 wins in their last 14 games with those three losses coming to Moose Jaw, Brandon and Swift Current…The Rockets are 5-2-0-0 without Dillon Dube and Cal Foote at the World Junior Hockey Championship……The Rockets record after 37 games this season is 23-11-2-1. Last season the hockey club was 23-12-2-0 after 37 games….Leif Mattson has 7 more points than he had all of last season…Carsen Twarynski has goals in 9 of his last 15 games…Twarynski had a career high 45 points with the Calgary Hitmen in 2015-2016. The 20 year-old is 6 points shy of that total this seasonThe Rockets have four hat-tricks this season from Carsen Twarynski (two vs. Portland/one vs. Prince George), and Kole Lind (vs. Prince Albert and Kamllops)…Lind had three goals in a game against the Kamloops Blazers in December, 2015…Cal Foote and Dillon Dube have made Canada’s entry at the World Junior Hockey Championships…The Rockets have sent 17 players to Canada’s roster at the World Junior Hockey Championships…Kyle Topping and Libor Zabrasky are both rated as ‘C’ prospects for June’s NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting. Topping was not on the ‘Players to Watch’ list in October before appearing in November’s rankings…The Rockets have won 12 straight games on home ice with wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George (twice), Vancouver, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Kootenay and Kamloops (twice)….The Rockets played their 16 hundredth regular season game in franchise history November 3rd in Victoria in a 4-2 win……The Rockets are 4 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube Carsen Twarynski (twice). The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 9-5-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….The Rockets are 12-3-0-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets are 18-1-0-1 when leading after 2 periods…The Rockets are 18-2-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game….Erik Gardiner has missed 23 games after being injured October 28th vs. Prince George.
Milestones: Connor Bruggen-Cate played in his 100th game Saturday vs. Victoria…Kyle Topping is playing in his 97th career game tonight – 3 shy of 100….Head Coach Jason Smith coached his 100th career regular season game against the Kootenay Ice on December 2nd…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game November 14th vs. Oil Kings. 

Roster Stats:
Player total: 26
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 5   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 10  Porter, Foote, Belcourt, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 2   Korczak, Basran

NHL Drafted Players: Cal Foote (Tampa Bay 2017), Kole Lind (Vancouver 2017), Dillon Dube (Calgary 2016), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia 2016), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota 2016).  

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fun in the fight for first

Shoot the Breeze Photography

  • If Victoria Royals leading scorer Matthew Phillips had the puck on his stick and Kelowna Rockets defenceman James Hilsendager was playing goal, you would undoubtedly put your money on the shifty, skilled forward to easily score. That exact situation presented itself last night in overtime in the Rockets 3-2 shootout win. Hilsendager made the biggest save of his WHL career when rookie goaltender Roman Basran misplayed a loose puck just inside the Rockets blue-line. With Phillips skating quickly towards it for a quality shot on goal, Basran skated dangerous out of his net in an attempt to play it. The 16 year-old wanted to shoot it up ice but missed it. Badly out of position, Basran watched in horror as Phillips picked up the puck and skated towards the wide open goal with only Hilsendager standing in his way.  Phillips fired it on net only to see the veteran defenceman get his leg on it in what can only be described as a crazy sequence of events in a highly entertaining game.
  • That was the best save of the game, right? With time ticking down in the third period, Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse made a high-lite reel glove hand stop on Rockets forward Jack Cowell. Cowell found himself sitting all alone at the side of the net with the puck on his stick. With Outhouse focused on what was happening to his right, the veteran goaltender dove across in desperation and flared his glove out to make a miraculous stop on Cowell, who had a sure goal taken away. Lucky? Yes! Desperation 101? Without question. That save is WHL Plays of the Week worthy. 
  • I think both teams will be happy with the outcome. Playing short-staffed with players either injured or participating at the World Junior Hockey Championships, the game featured end-to-end action, great goaltending and a little bit of luck. Again, the entertainment value was off the charts for two teams that meet again in late January with hopefully their entire rosters available to them. I want Cal Foote to be on the ice. I want Regan Nagy to be available. Noah Gregor needs to demonstrate his speed and Dillon Dube has to be part of the equation. It only gets better from here with four games left between these two teams.  
  • The Rockets ran their home ice winning streak to a WHL high 12 games. Brandon had it's 10 game home ice winning streak snapped earlier in the day by Moose Jaw. The Rockets are 13-3-0-1 at Prospera Place this season. The Wheat Kings and Moose Jaw Warriors each have 16 home ice wins.
  • The Rockets also extended their winning streak to five games and have 11 wins in their last 14 games. Yes, they are 11-3-0-0 over that stretch with losses to Brandon, Moose Jaw and Swift Current. Two of those three losses came without Dillon Dube, Kole Lind and Cal Foote.
  • Kyle Topping scored his 14th goal of the season, matching his career high set in his rookie campaign. The second year forward has points in 6 of his last 7 games.
  • The Rockets lost forward Liam Kindree early in the game to what appeared to be a left leg or ankle injury. The rookie forward was grimacing in pain after going awkwardly into the end boards in the first period. Kindree needed to be helped off the ice favoring his leg and did not return. 
  • Leif Mattson opened the scoring with his career high 10th goal of the season. It was his first goal in 8 games. Can Mattson score 15 goals this season? I can't see why not. If he almost reaches the 20 goal mark, that is a terrific season for a player who doesn't benefit from massive amounts of time on the power play.
  • While scoreless in his last 7 games, forward Nolan Foote hit the goal post no less than twice in the win. Foote did find the back of the net in the shootout though, beating Griffen Outhouse with a nice snap shot to the glove hand side.
  • While Tyler Soy and Matthew Phillips each had a goal and an assist, which Royals forward impressed me the most? I thought rookie Dino Kambeitz was terrific. The thing that stood out for me was how hard it is to take him off the puck. I assume the 5th round bantam pick is built like a 10 tonne truck. He looks like an immovable object.
  • James Hilsendager likely doesn't get the credit he deserves. While his save in overtime was terrific, his physical play is such a key component on the Rockets blue-line. A first period hit by Hilsendager sent Royalas forward Spencer Gerth flying into the Victoria bench. I just love how Hilsendager never avoids contact with an opposing player.  
  • Connor Bruggen-Cate played in his 100th career game Saturday night against the Royals.
  • I really liked how the coaching staff used 16 year-old rookie d-man Kaedan Korczak in overtime. He played significant minutes and didn't look out of place. The dude can skate, defend and despite the lack of offensive totals this season, the high hockey IQ is clearly there. In fact, I thought it was Korczak's best game of the season, which included a chance to score his first career WHL goal when he was fed a puck at the right face-off circle in the third period but berried his shot into Outhouse's midsection. 
  • I like sportsmanship. The photo above is a clear indication of the class of Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse as he greets 16 year-old rookie Roman Basran at centre ice. The photo was captured nicely by Marrissa Baecker/Cindy Rogers, who were both on their 'A' game last night with some outstanding photos. 
  • The Rockets closed out 2017 like they started it ...with a win. The team opens 2018 on Wednesday against the visiting Tri City Americans.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Lind/Porter lead way to road win

James Porter Junior - Shoot the Breeze Photo 
  • For the first time this season, the Kelowna Rockets are in sole possession of first place in the BC Division. On opening night they shared it with the Victoria Royals, but after chasing their Island nemesis for three months, they now sit two points up on them with two games in hand. At one point this season, the Royals enjoyed an 8 point advantage. Kole Lind scored three times last night leading the Kelowna Rockets to a 3-0 win over the Kamloops Blazers. While Lind was scoring, rookie goaltender James Porter Junior made 28 saves in the shutout as the Rockets extended their winning streak to four games. Porter has two shutouts in his last three starts.
  • Lind now has two-three goal games in his last four. Honestly, Lind could have scored more times last night but failed on a second-second period breakaway, as the 19 year-old fired a season high 9 shots on goal. Lind's skill set is elite, with some now questioning why one of the best scorers in Canadian junior hockey is not playing for his country in Buffalo this week. Since Lind's return to Kelowna after being released from Hockey Canada's main camp, the pride of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan has 7 goals and 4 assists, which is good for 11 points.
  • Lind scored 30 goals last season and has 20 goals this season. Those 50 goals have been scored in 97 regular season games.   
  • Lind scored twice on the power play and now is tied with Carsen Twarynski for the team lead in power play goals with 8. 
  • Both Kole Lind and Carsen Twarynski have enjoyed two-three goals games this season. Who was the last Kelowna Rockets player to record three hat-tricks in one season? Justin Keller accomplished the feat during the 2005-2006 season when he scored 51 times. Chuck Kobasew also had three-three goal games in 2001-2002. Kobasew scored 41 goals that season. Brett McLean had three-three goal games in 1998-99. McLean had 7 career hat-tricks wearing Kelowna Rockets colours.
  • If you compare Wednesday's 2-1 shootout win over the Blazers and last night's 3-0 road victory against the same team, it was like comparing apples to oranges. I am not saying the Rockets were without their warts in their 22nd win of the season, but it was a much improved effort from two days prior. Structurally, the team played a much better game. Puck management resulted in a significant reduction in the number of turnovers the team surrendered. In Wednesday's win, I hadn't seen the team look that disorganized in their own zone since a 6-3 loss in Moose Jaw back on December 12th. 
  • The game featured three fights. Rookie Kyle Pow, second year forward Connor Bruggen-Cate and 20 year-old Carsen Twarysnki were involved in the physical affair. It was Pow's third fight of the season and Twarynski's first as a Kelowna Rocket. Bruggen-Cate has 4 fighting majors in his career, with three of the them coming against the Blazers. Regardless of the outcome, I thought it was great to see all three guys show up and defend themselves or a teammate. Let's throw Kyle Topping in the mix, who was involved in some rough stuff after line-mate Kole Lind was labeled at the Blazers blue-line by Nolan Kneen.
  • While no penalty was called on the play, Kneen clearly had Lind lined up for a huge hit when the forward skated with the puck inside the Blazers zone,. Kneen came across and laid the boom on Lind, who crashed to the ice but quickly made his way to his skates and didn't miss a shift. On video replay it appeared to be a clean hit. I saw no head contact at all, which was good news for both players. Head contact would have likely resulted in a concussion for Lind and a suspension for Kneen.
  • The Rockets are now 4-0-0-0 in the seasonal series against the Blazers, with the penalty killing unit having killed off 13 of 14 shorthanded situations.    
  • At the half way point of the season, the Rockets sit in first place in the BC Division, but also in first place in the Western Conference standings. That's awfully impressive for a team that has played without a top six forward (Erik Gardiner) for 22 consecutive games, lost their starting goaltender to injury (Brodan Salmond) and are riding two rookie goaltenders to the top of the standings.
      

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Rockets face Blazers - again!

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Game Night Preview: The Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers meet tonight for the fourth time this season. The Rockets are 3-0-0-0 in the seasonal series, but escaped with a 2-1 shootout victory Wednesday night over their arch BC Division rivals. Kole Lind scored the lone goal in regulation time and rookie Liam Kindree scored the decisive goal in the shootout. The real story was the play of goaltender James Porter Junior, who made 46 saves in regulation/overtime and then made four additional stops in the shootout to earn first star status.  The Rockets have killed off 10 of 11 Blazers power plays in the three games and are 4 for 16 (25%) with the man advantage. The Rockets close out the month of December tomorrow night against the visiting Victoria Royals. The game against Victoria will be the first of three consecutive games on home ice. The Rockets host Tri City Wednesday and Seattle Friday. One week from Sunday, the Rockets play a single road game in Calgary against the Hitmen in a quirk in the schedule.    

Looking Ahead: The Rockets play 13 games in January. Of those 13, six will be played on home ice. Six of those games are against teams in the Central Division including two each with Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. Five of those games are against US Division teams including three against the Seattle Thunderbirds, the only team in the WHL they have failed to play this season.

Broadcasters Notebook: Kole Lind is riding a four game point streak. The 19 year-old has 5+5=10 over that span…Kyle Topping has a five game point streak (3+4=7)…The Rockets record after 35 games this season is 21-11-2-1. Last season the hockey club was 21-12-2-0 after 35 games….…Leif Mattson has 7 more points than he had all of last season…Carsen Twarynski has goals in 9 of his last 13 games…Twarynski had a career high 45 points with the Calgary Hitmen in 2015-2016. The 20 year-old is 6 points shy of that total this seasonThe Rockets have three hat-tricks this season from Carsen Twarynski (two vs. Portland/one vs. Prince George), and Kole Lind vs. Prince Albert…Kole Lind had three goals in a game against the Kamloops Blazers in December, 2015…Cal Foote and Dillon Dube have made Canada’s entry at the World Junior Hockey Championships…The Rockets have sent 17 players to Canada’s roster at the World Junior Hockey Championships….Nolan Foote has goals in four of his last 9 games…Kyle Topping and Libor Zabrasky are both rated as ‘C’ prospects for June’s NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting. Topping was not on the ‘Players to Watch’ list in October before appearing in November’s rankings…The Rockets have won 11 straight games on home ice with wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George (twice), Vancouver, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Kootenay and Kamloops….The Rockets played their 16 hundredth regular season game in franchise history November 3rd in Victoria in a 4-2 win……The Rockets are 4 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube Carsen Twarynski (twice). The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 8-5-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….The Rockets are 10-3-0-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets are 16-1-0-1 when leading after 2 periods…The Rockets are 16-2-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game….Erik Gardiner has missed 21 games after being injured October 28th vs. Prince George.

Milestones: Kyle Topping is playing in his 95th career game tonight….Head Coach Jason Smith coached his 100th career regular season game against the Kootenay Ice on December 2nd…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game November 14th vs. Oil Kings. 

Roster Stats:
Player total: 26
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 5   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 10  Porter, Foote, Belcourt, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 2   Korczak, Basran
NHL Drafted Players: Cal Foote (Tampa Bay 2017), Kole Lind (Vancouver 2017), Dillon Dube (Calgary 2016), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia 2016), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota 2016).  


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Rockets/Blazers preview


Shoot the Breeze Photography
Game Night Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open the post-Christmas break with a home game against the Kamloops Blazers. This is the third meetings of the season between these two teams. The Rockets are 2-0-0-0 after sweeping a pair of games in the first weekend of the regular season in late September. The two teams meet in Kamloops Friday night before clashing again February 16th. The Rockets are 11-3-1-0 in their last 15 regular season home games against the Blazers. The Rockets are coming off a highly successful Eastern Division road trip where the team went 3-3-0-0 with wins over Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert. After playing 6 consecutive games on the road, the Rockets enjoy playing 7 of their next 12 on home ice. The Rockets host Victoria Saturday (Dec 30th) night. 

BC Division Battle: The Kelowna Rockets had a record of 4-5-1-1 in the first 11 regular season games of the season. Since then the team is an impressive 16-6-1-0 in their last 23 games. The Kamloops Blazers are 14-8-0-1 in their last 23 regular season contests. The surging Vancouver Giants are 13-8-1-1 in their last 23 games while last place Prince George is 9-12-1-1 in their last 23 games. Victoria is 11-10-2-0 in their last 23 games.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets record after 34 games this season is 20-11-2-1. Last season the hockey club was 20-12-2-0 after 34 games….Kyle Topping had 3+3=6 on a 6 game Eastern Division road trip…Topping has 7 more points than he had all of last season…Leif Mattson has 7 more points than he had all of last season…Carsen Twarynski had 5+2=7 during the teams recently road trip through the East Division….Twarynski has goals in 9 of his last 12 games…Twarynski had a career high 45 points with the Calgary Hitmen in 2015-2016. The 20 year-old is 6 points shy of that total this season…Libor Zabransky has 5 assists in his last two games including a career high 4 assists vs. Prince Albert December 15thThe Rockets have three hat-tricks this season from Carsen Twarynski (two vs. Portland/one vs. Prince George), and Kole Lind vs. Prince Albert…Kole Lind’s three goal game last night was the second of his career. Lind had three goals in a game against the Kamloops Blazers in December, 2015…Cal Foote and Dillon Dube have made Canada’s entry at the World Junior Hockeey Championships…The Rockets have sent 17 players to Canada’s roster at the World Junior Hockey Championships….Nolan Foote has goals in four of his last 8 games…Kyle Topping and Libor Zabrasky are both rated as ‘C’ prospects for June’s NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting. Topping was not on the ‘Players to Watch’ list in October before appearing in November’s rankings…The Rockets have won 10 straight games on home ice with wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George (twice), Vancouver, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Kootenay….The Rockets played their 16 hundredth regular season game in franchise history November 3rd in Victoria in a 4-2 win……The Rockets are 4 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube Carsen Twarynski (twice). The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 8-5-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….The Rockets are 9-3-0-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets are 15-1-0-1 when leading after 2 periods…The Rockets are 15-2-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game….Erik Gardiner has missed 20 games after being injured October 28th vs. Prince George….Name the only team the Rockets have failed to play in the Western Conference this season? Answer – the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Rockets face the T-Bird three times in the next 11 games. The team makes two stops in Kent on January 12th and 19th.  The T-Birds are in Kelowna January 5th and February 23rd.

Milestones: Kyle Topping is playing in his 94th career game tonight….Head Coach Jason Smith coached his 100th career regular season game against the Kootenay Ice on December 2nd…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game November 14th vs. Oil Kings.  

Roster Stats:
Player total: 26
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 5   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 10  Porter, Foote, Belcourt, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 2   Korczak, Basran
NHL Drafted Players: Cal Foote (Tampa Bay 2017), Kole Lind (Vancouver 2017), Dillon Dube (Calgary 2016), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia 2016), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota 2016).  

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150