Friday, November 17, 2017

Rockets/Hurricanes preview


Shoot the Breeze Photography
Rockets/Hurricanes Preview: This is the first of three meetings this season. The Hurricanes make a return visit January 17th before the Rockets make their lone appearance at ENMAX Centre on January 24th. The Rockets and Hurricanes met twice last season with the Rockets earning a 6-3 win October 5th before the Hurricanes recorded a 6-5 victory on December 11th. In the big picture, the Rockets are riding a 7 game home ice winning streak against the Hurricanes, who haven’t won at Prospera Place since January 20, 2012. In the last 15 regular season meetings, the Rockets have come out on the winning end 13 times. Following tonight’s game, the Rockets open a three game road trip with stops in Vancouver (tomorrow), Spokane (Tuesday) and Vancouver again one week from tonight. The Rockets have points in 5 of their last 6 games.

Anholt Returns: The Lethbridge Hurricanes General Manager is Peter Anholt. Anholt is in his third season with the Hurricanes but also coached in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets between 1996 and 1998. Anholt was a head coach to defenceman Kris Mallette, who is now an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets. Anholt’s assistant during in two seasons here was Glen Cochrane, who is a Kelowna resident and is now an NHL scout with the Anaheim Ducks.  

Hockey Hotbed: The Kelowna Rockets are in their 27th year of existence since coming into the Western Hockey League as an expansion franchise in 1991. After four seasons in Tacoma, the team relocated to Kelowna in 1995-96, where the team has spent the last 22 years in the Okanagan. The team has four WHL championships (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015) and have missed the playoffs only once in their existence. The hockey club has made four straight appearances in the Western Conference final and has registered 40 or more wins in five consecutive seasons.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets have won 6 straight games on home ice with wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George, Vancouver, Red Deer and Edmonton….The Rockets have scored 15 goals in their last three games….The Rockets played their 16 hundredth regular season game in franchise history Novembr 3rd in Victoria in a 4-2 win…Carsen Twarynski has 9 goals in his last 9 games….James Porter has started in 12 of the last 15 games…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 5-2-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….November birthdays include Kyle Topping (Nov 18th), Carsen Twarynski (Nov 24th) and Nolan Foote (Nov 29th).

Who’s Hot? Liam Kindree has 1+6=7 in his last four games and is riding a four game point streak….Kole Lind is riding a 7 game point streak (3+7=10)…Leif Mattson has goals in 6 of his last 9 games.…Carsen Twarynski has goals in 5 of his last 9 games and has 9 goals over that stretch…Kyle Topping has points in 7 of his last 10 games (4+6=10) and has points in 10 of his last 14 games…Gordie Ballhorn has points in 7 of his last 9 games (1+9=10)…Goalie James Porter is 7-0-0-1 in his last 8 starts.

Milestones: Dillon Dube is 1 assists shy of 100 in his career…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) - 4   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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Home winning streak reaches 6 games

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • The Kelowna Rockets are making hay during a four game home stand. Dillon Dube and Carsen Twarynski each scored twice in a 5-2 win over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings last night. The Rockets are now 3-0-0-0 with wins over Vancouver, Red Deer and Edmonton. In those three games, the Rockets have out-scored the opponent 15-8. Tuesday's victory against the worst team in the WHL didn't come easy though. After scoring the opening two goals with relative ease, it appeared the home team took their foot off the accelerator as the Oil Kings battled back. With a slim 3-2 lead heading into the third period, Twarynski sealed it with his 11th goal of the season on a nice setup from Dube, before scoring an empty netter in the teams 11th win of the season.
  • Scoring two goals in the first 4:22 of the game can't but put a smile on Jason Smith's face, but the way it all went down had to give his team a false sense of security. I felt it up in the broadcast booth. Would it be another blowout win, reminiscent of a 10-1 drubbing of the Oil Kings last season? Edmonton head coach Steve Hamilton calling a timeout which appeared to work in his teams favour. The Oil Kings scored a power play goal and the game was evenly played after that point. 
  • Liam Kindree was the most assertive I've seen in his short time in a Rockets uniform. I thought he was effective on the fore-check, collected two assists and extended his point streak to four games playing on a line with Twarynski and Dube. My only complaint is he isn't selfish enough and I would like him to shoot the puck more often. With not a single shot taken in last night's win, a greedier mindset will serve him well as he takes full advantage of the promotion into the teams top 6 forwards.
  • James Hilsendager played in his 200th career game and again showed his value. With Oil Kings forward Ty Gerla attempting to goat Kole Lind into a fight, Hilsendager stood curiously by and then engaged with Gerla in the lopsided tilt. Lind could have handled the situation himself, but I still like the old school mentality of Hilsendager watching the back of a teammate. Lind is the teams leading scorer, so does he really need to waste his time trading punches with Gerla who has 8 career goals? Lind should only be fighting on his own terms. It may sound like a one way street, but only trade punches with someone who is in your same skill set. Had he danced with Trey Fix-Walansky, I'm fine with that.
  • Dube is quietly going about his business, recording a point in 6 of his last 8 games. 
  • I thought rookie forward Marek Skrvne has a solid game. Recording his first WHL point with an assist on Carsen Twarynski's empty net goal, the 17 year-old was 9 for 9 at the face-off circle and was doing his best to make an impact playing on the fourth line.
  • The crazy stat of the night. The Oil Kings allow the most goals in the WHL, yet, on average, they allow the lowest number of shots on goal per game. Last night the Rockets managed 32 shots on Edmonton starter Travis Child.
  • Kole Lind extended his point streak to 7 games with an assist. Lind's longest point streak is 8 games when he started the season on fire before failing to hit the score-sheet against the Portland Winterhawks in a 8-2 loss in Portland on October 15th.
  • The Rockets 5-2 win combined with the Red Deer Rebels 5-3 victory in Victoria, closed the gap to just four points between the BC Division rivals with the Rockets holding two games in hand.
  • The Rockets wrap up the 4 game home stand Friday against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. Like the Rebels and Oil Kings, the Hurricanes make a return visit on January 17th before the Rockets pay a visit to the southern Alberta community on January 24th. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rockets/Oil Kings preview

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Rockets/Oil Kings Preview: This is the first of two meetings between the Kelowna Rockets and Edmonton Oil Kings this season. The Oil Kings make a return trip February 17th.  The Rockets were 3-0-0-0 against the Oil Kings last season, winning 1-0 on October 7th, earning a 2-1 shootout victory December 18th and scoring a 10-1 win February 22nd.  The Rockets are 6-0-0-1 in their last seven meetings between the two teams. In the big picture, the Rockets haven’t lost in regulation time to the Oil Kings in 10 straight games (8-0-0-2). The last regulation win for the Oil Kings was 5-3 back on October 27, 2012. Following tonight’s game, the Rockets host Lethbridge Friday before traveling to Vancouver to face the Giants Saturday night. The Rockets have points in 5 of their last 6 games.

Soustal Returns: The game tonight features 20 year-old Tomas Soustal returning to face his old team. Soustal was traded to the Oil Kings October 2nd for a 4th round draft pick. The Czech Republic forward played 175 regular season games with the Rockets, scoring 47 goals in 114 regular season games and was a member of the 2015 WHL championship team. This season, Soustal has 4+13=17 in 19 games with the Oil Kings.

Hockey Hotbed: The Kelowna Rockets are in their 27th year of existence since coming into the Western Hockey League as an expansion franchise in 1991. After four seasons in Tacoma, the team relocated to Kelowna in 1995-96, where the team has spent the last 22 years in the Okanagan. The team has four WHL championships (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015) and have missed the playoffs only once in their existence. The hockey club has made four straight appearances in the Western Conference final and has registered 40 or more wins in five consecutive seasons.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets have won 5 straight games on home ice with wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George, Vancouver and Red Deer….The Rockets played their 16 hundredth regular season game in franchise history Novembr 3rd in Victoria in a 4-2 win….4 of the next 7 games for the Rockets are on home ice…Carsen Twarynski has 7 goals in his last 8 games….James Porter has started in 11 of the last 14 games… The Rockets boast one first round NHL draft pick and two second rounders. Cal Foote was chosen 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in June while Kole Lind (2nd round (33rd) Canucks - 2017) and Dillon Dube (2nd round (56th) Flames - 2016) were picked in the second round….Nolan Foote, last season’s rookie of the year, is not eligible to be drafted until June 2019…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 5-2-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….November birthdays include Kyle Topping (Nov 18th), Carsen Twarynski (Nov 24th) and Nolan Foote (Nov 29th).

Who’s Hot? Liam Kindree has 1+4=5 in his last three games….Kole Lind is riding a 6 game point streak (3+6=9)…Leif Mattson has goals in 6 of his last 8 games.…Carsen Twarynski has goals in 4 of his last 8 games and has 7 goals over that stretch…Kyle Topping has points in 6 of his last 9 games (3+6=9) and has points in 9 of his last 13 games.
Milestones: Dillon Dube is 2 assists shy of 100 in his career…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game tonight vs. Oil Kings. 

Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 4   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, November 12, 2017

Home cook'n tasting better

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  • Prospera Place may finally be - 'Home Sweet Home'. After struggling on home ice to start the season (1-3-0-1 in first 5 home games), the Kelowna Rockets have finally found the formula for success in front of their own fans. A 5-2 win over the visiting Red Deer Rebels last night extended their home ice winning streak to a modest five games. An early power play goal from Dillon Dube and then three more in the second period lifted the Rockets to their 10th win of the season. In a game where it appeared the Rockets could dominate when they wanted too, two goals in a span of :26 seconds from d-men James Hilsendager and Braydyn Chizen essentially put the game on ice. The Rebels attempted to rally back in the third period, but the game was won, or in Red Deer's case, lost in the second period when the Rockets out-shot the visitors 16-4.
  • The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 25-13 during the five game home ice winning streak.
  • Liam Kindree had a goal and an assist and was named the first star. It has been tough sledding for the rookie forward, who scored his first goal since opening night against Kamloops. Kindree now has points in three straight games. Playing with Dillon Dube, the 17 year-old is getting his confidence back after seeing limited ice time and being a healthy scratch for two games earlier this season.
  • Kole Lind extended his point streak to 6 games with his 11th goal of the season. The way he protected the puck away from Rebels forward Jack Flaman prior to scoring was texted book. Lind has earned a point in 16 of the 19 games this season. Impressive!
  • How about Kole Lind's effort shorthanded in the second period? Wow. Lind stapled the puck into the side boards inside Rebels territory with four....four....Rebels unable to pry the puck away from him. The sequence was highlighted by Red Deer forward Lukus MacKenzie roughing up Lind and taking a penalty. What I liked best about Lind's reaction was - none. No retaliation. Zero. The 19 year-old skated away as the crowd applauded. 
  • Gordie Ballhorn is quietly putting a career season together. Considered a defensive defenceman with little offensive upside, the 20 year-old has racked up 14 points in 19 games. To put that in perspective, Ballhorn collected just 18 points in 103 career games coming into this season. It has really been an amazing transformation. While improving his offensive totals, Ballhorn is still an excellent defender and puck mover, but he is shooting the puck way more than a season ago. Is he not the most improved player on the roster this season?  Nineteen games into the season, the likable Ballhorn receives my vote.
  • The Rockets have 10 wins after 19 games. The team had 10 wins after 19 games a season ago. The real difference is in the loss column where this year's squad has lost 6 times while last year's team had 9 setbacks after the same stretch of games. Last season the Rockets were aided by a 6 game winning streak over the first 19 games. This season, the longest winning streak is only three games.
  • You have to win these games. Plain and simple, you have to beat those below you in the overall standings. This four game home stand features four opponents that the Rockets should beat in Vancouver, Red Deer, Edmonton and Lethbridge. That said, you can't mail it in or play sub par hockey in order to earn the two points, but if they play to their abilities, without question this stretch of games should result in 8 points in the bank. 
  • The team announced Saturday afternoon that veteran goaltender Brodan Salmond is out for between 4 to 6 weeks with a MCL knee injury. With that update, it is clearly 17 year-old rookie James Porter's time to shine. But truthfully, hasn't he already? Porter has allowed two or fewer goals in 6 of his last 9 starts.
  • The Edmonton Oil Kings provide the opposition Tuesday night.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Twarynski overtime hero again!

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  • Big is better. Carsen Twarynski proved it Friday night in a 5-4 overtime victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. The 20 year-old out-battled Giants forward Tyler Benson for body positioning on a loose puck at the Rockets blue-line, sent it forward to teammate Cal Foote who returned the favour with a quick pass to Twarynski on a two-on-one for the game winning goal. It marked the second time this season the Philadephia Flyers third round pick has scored in dramatic fashion after playing the role of hero in overtime against the Tri City Americans on October 27th.  Kole Lind, Gordie Ballhorn, Leif Mattson and Connor Bruggen-Cate scored in a game that had both teams turning over the puck on several occasions. Both coaches must have been pulling their hair out at games end, but it was a terrific game from an entertainment perspective with pretty goals and sensational saves. 
  • Twarynski has as many goals (10) than he had with the Rockets all of last season. Yep, Twarynski had 10 goals in 36 games after being acquired a season ago from the Calgary Hitmen. After 15 games this season he has found the back of the net 10 times.  
  • The Vancouver Giants power play entered the weekend as the worst unit in the WHL. It sure didn't look like it Friday night striking three times. It came up extremely large when Rockets forward Dillon Dube took a ill advised penalty with about 7 minutes left in the third period with his team clinging to a 4-3 lead. Tyler Benson would score the tying goal, setting the stage for overtime.
  • Kole Lind's shorthanded goal was a beauty. The effort was incredible. Skating wide on a defender and then cutting towards the net, the puck went harmlessly off his stick towards the goaltender. But back pressure from an opposition forward had the puck go off the Giants player and trickle into the net. It was Lind's 10th goal of the season and the teams second shorthanded goal this season. Lind now has a 5 game point streak (2+4=6).
  • Leif Mattson just keeps scoring. The second year forward has goals in 6 of his last 7 games and has scored 6 of his goals on only 17 shots. 
  • It was nice to see Connor Bruggen-Cate find the back of the net. It was his first in 12 games.   
  • Often disappointed with Tyler Benson's play, this was the best game I have ever seen him play at the WHL level. Often injured, the 19 year-old  may have been the best forward for both teams on the ice and showed flashes why he was so highly regarded heading into the 2013 WHL bantam draft. Benson put on a board battling clinic in the second period and scored twice with two quick goals that saw the puck leave his stick in a flash. I thought he was simply terrific for a player who, up until last night, I had honestly lost faith in as a marquee player. On this night, Benson proved he has game!!  
  • The game featured two American goalies going toe-to-toe. The Rockets started Idaho born James Porter against Giants netminder, and Minnesota born Todd Scott. It marked the first time American born goalies had met on Prospera Place ice since Adam Brown (California) met Mac Carruth (Minnesota) when the Kelowna Rockets faced the Portland Winterhawks in the 2012 playoffs. 
  • For those wondering, the Rockets have been to overtime in three of their last 6 games. The Rockets are 4 and 2 in extra time. 
  • The Rockets have played 9 - one goal games this season. The team is 4-2-2-1 in one goal games.
  • The Rockets have won 4 straight games on home ice. The last loss at Prospera Place was 3-1 to the Portland Winterhawks on October 20th.
  • Rookie goaltender James Porter is 6-2-2-0 on the season. The 17 year-old has not lost in regulation time in his last six starts.  
  • I like to see the coaches using Liam Kindree on the second power play unit. They need to get him going. A skilled player, the confidence isn't there right now, so lets hope he can get it back. Kindree had two assists with both coming with the extra man.
  • Up next the Rockets play host to the Red Deer Rebels Saturday night. The Rockets visit the Rebels on January 27th. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Rockets/Giants game notes

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Rockets/Giants Preview: This is the first of eight meetings between the Kelowna Rockets and Vancouver Giants this season. The Rockets are riding a 24 game home ice winning streak against the G-Men. The last win for the Giants at Prospera Place was March 19, 2011 in a 4-3 victory. This is the start of a four game home stand for the Rockets, who host Red Deer tomorrow, Edmonton on Tuesday and close out the four games in eight day stint by welcoming Lethbridge one week from tonight. The Rockets are in Vancouver Saturday November 18th. Last season the Rockets were 7-1-0-0 against their BC Division rivals. The Rockets have points in four of their last five games.

Hockey Hotbed: The Kelowna Rockets are in their 27th year of existence since coming into the Western Hockey League as an expansion franchise in 1991. After four seasons in Tacoma, the team relocated to Kelowna in 1995-96, where the team has spent the last 22 years in the Okanagan. The team has four WHL championships (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015) and have missed the playoffs only once in their existence. The hockey club has made four straight appearances in the Western Conference final and has registered 40 or more wins in five consecutive seasons.

Rockets involved in Canada/Russian Challenge: Three members of the Kelowna Rockets participated for Team WHL in the CIBC Canada-Russia series. Dillon Dube had 2+3=5 in the two games and was named the WHL player of the game Tuesday night in a 4-3 loss in Swift Current. A night earlier, in Moose Jaw, Kole Lind was named the WHL player of the game in a 7-0 win over the Russians. Sixteen year-old defenceman Kaedan Korczak and Rockets goalie prospect Roman Basran are competing at Hockey Canada’s World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek/Fort St. John November 5-11th.  Rockets assistant coach Travis Crickard will be a member of the coaching staff of one of three Canadian teams participating. 

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets played their 16 hundredth regular season game in franchise history last Friday in Victoria in a 4-2 win….6 of the next 9 games for the Rockets are on home ice…Carsen Twarynski has 6 goals in his last 6 games….James Porter has started in 9 of the last 12 games… The Rockets boast one first round NHL draft pick and two second rounders. Cal Foote was chosen 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in June while Kole Lind (2nd round (33rd) Canucks - 2017) and Dillon Dube (2nd round (56th) Flames - 2016) were picked in the second round….Nolan Foote, last season’s rookie of the year, is not eligible to be drafted until June 2019…The Rockets are 3 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube and Carsen Twarynski. The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 4-2-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….November birthdays include Kyle Topping (Nov 18th), Carsen Twarynski (Nov 24th) and Nolan Foote (Nov 29th).

Who’s Hot? Leif Mattson has goals in five of his last six games.…Carsen Twarynski has goals in three of his last 6 games and has 6 goals over that stretch…Kyle Topping has points in 5 of his last 7 games (3+4=7) and has points in 8 of his last 11 games…Cal Foote has three goals in 6 games.
Milestones: Dillon Dube is 4 assists shy of 100 in his career…Kole Lind hit the 100 assist mark last Saturday against Prince George…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game last Saturday against the Cougars…James Hilsendager is 3 games shy of 200 for his career.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 4   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

Monday, November 6, 2017

No ground gained in fight for 1st

Jonathon Howe photo
  • The Kelowna Rockets entered the weekend eight games back of the Victoria Royals in the fight for first place in the BC Division. The Rockets left the Island with the exact same deficit after splitting a pair of games on the weekend. After beating the Royals 4-2 Friday night, optimism was high to leave Victoria with four points in the bank. The Royals had other plans. The home team scored the first four goals, three of which came in the first period in a 4-2 win. The Rockets made it interesting with goals from Nolan Foote and Leif Mattson, but by then it was a little too late. The loss leaves the Rockets with 8 wins, 6 losses, two overtime losses and one shootout loss after 17 games. Hard to believe Friday's home game has us at the 1/4 point of the season. 
  • Brodan Salmond was back in goal Saturday night. In his first start since October 15th against the Portland Winterhawks, the 19 year-old really couldn't be faulted for the opening three goals. Ryan Peckford picked up a rebound at the side of the net on a booming shot from defenceman Chaz Redikopp to make it 1-0. Dante Hannoun scored on a breakaway on a turnover in the neutral zone to make it 2-0 and then Peckford scored on a nice power move by cutting to the net with the puck and chipping it high over Salmond's blocker side to make it 3-0. I thought Salmond played pretty well, specifically in the third period, as the Rockets rallied. Face it, as good as rookie James Porter has been, he needed a rest and Salmond needed to get a game under his belt. Goaltending wasn't the reason behind the 4-2 loss. Generating offense was.
  • The team manufactured just 12 shots through two periods and found themselves down 3-0. I am not convinced the Royals were fully responsible for those low totals, but it came from the visitors wanting to pass the puck more for the perfect shot, rather than just shooting it. 
  • I do wonder how the game would have unfolded had the Rockets capitalized on an early power play chance when the game was scoreless. The puck movement and quality chances were there, yet they were unable to find the back of the net. The best scoring chance in the first three minutes came from rookie Liam Kindree. Kindree had Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse down with what appeared to be a wide open net, before shooting the puck only to see the 19 year-old flare out his glove to make a WHL Plays of the Week type of save. Had that scoring chance been successful, how would the game have unfolded? 
  • Rockets rookie Kyle Pow was in the line-up Saturday night. From Nanaimo, Pow had to be excited to be playing after being a healthy scratch in Friday's opener. Despite seeing limited ice time, Pow was involved in his first career WHL scrap when he dropped the gloves with Royals forward Jared Legion.
  • Even really good players make bad decisions. How about Royals leading scorer Mathew Phillips stomping on Rockets forward Kole Lind's stick after a pushing and shoving match in front of the Victoria net? Phillips, who is one of the nicest players you will ever watch, with a personality to match, used his skate to stomp on Lind's stick which was laying helplessly on the ice. Sitting in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, the Rockets scored on the power play to make it a 4-2 game.  
  • A tremendous crowd in Victoria Saturday night. It was 80's night which attracted over 65 hundred fans. The theme night had fans dressed in 80's garb and the music played over the loud speakers in the building were 'locked on the 80's' with some of the best songs of the decade. Tip of the cap to the off-ice staff in Victoria for pulling off a fun event.       
  • The Rockets now get set for four straight games on home ice, starting Friday against the Vancouver Giants. It is followed by a home game Saturday night against visiting Red Deer followed by dates against Edmonton (Tuesday Nov 14th) and Lethbridge (Friday Nov 17th).

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Penalty killing unit, take a bow

Jonathon Howe Photo
  • The Kelowna Rockets penalty killing unit has not been very good this season. It looked anything but mediocre Friday night though, in a 4-2 win over the Victoria Royals. The four man unit was the main reason why the Rockets earned their first regulation win on the road since the opening weekend of the season. The final result also handed the Royals their first regulation loss on home ice this season. The turning point was the penalty killing unit coming up large when Rockets 20 year-old Carsen Twarynski was accessed a questionable boarding penalty. What only compounded the problem is Twarynski was given a five minute major and game misconduct for it. The call came in a 2-2 tie with about 10 minutes left in the third period. It could have been a game changer. In fact it was, but it worked in the road teams favour. The Rockets killed off a 5-on-3 for close to a minute and then came up large for the remaining four minutes with Twarynski helplessly sitting in the dressing room upon his ejection from the game. The Rockets penalty killing unit went 6 for 7 in the game, which included being down two men three times in the game. Three! At the end of the day, the penalty killing unit won this game hands down. 
  • I didn't like the call on Twarynski in the least bit. I didn't think it was even a penalty. Seriously I didn't. Twarynski came in hard on the fore-check and hit Royals forward Ryan Peckford, who appeared to lose his balance and stumble slightly which lowered his body position as Twarynski made contact. I want to be reasonable here, so Peckford was hit in a slightly vulnerable position, so I will give the referee a bit of the benefit of the doubt. What I didn't like was the referee's significant hesitation to make the call. My belief is he didn't think it was bad either until the Royals player exhibited signs that he was hurt. The delay between the hit and the referee putting his arm up had to have been close to three seconds. To compound the situation, Twarynski was given a 5 minute major penalty for boarding. The only part of the sequence I liked was Rockets head coach Jason Smith giving the referee an earful when he came over to explain why he came to his conclusion that the hit was illegal. 
  • Dillon Dube had two goals and an assist in the win. Dube's opening goal came after his pass to Kyle Topping at the side of the net appeared to hit a Royals defender before going in. The 19 year-old's third period goal came on an empty netter while trying to fend off defenceman Ralph Jarratt. On this night, Dube, a second round pick of the Calgary Flames, was better than fellow Flames prospect Matthew Phillips, and you can't say that too often. 
  • Leif Mattson scored the game winner with 3:10 left in the third period when he literally stopped a weak point shot from teammate Gordie Ballhorn (sorry Gordie on the word weak) at the side of the net. Accepting the puck on his backhand, Mattson moved it quickly to his forehand and snapped it high over Victoria goaltender Griffin Outhouse's blocker side. It was Mattson's fourth goal in seven games. Again, is any shot on net a bad shot? That goal is a clear indicator that a shot, no matter what type of velocity it may exhibit, can create a good scoring chance. 
  • Penalty trouble, which plagued this team last season, reared its ugly head, specifically in the first period. The team took five minor penalties into the opening 20 minutes. The team settled down in the second period, when they were the superior team, but again found themselves having to come up large in the PK in the third. 
  • In my opinion it was the Rockets biggest win of the season. Yes, only 16 games have been played but this was a gutsy win over a very good team. After giving up 14 shots in the opening period, the Rockets gave up only 14 shots over the final 40 minutes. It was really a game where the team, despite surrendering the opening goal just 24 seconds into the opening period, appeared to get better as it went along.
  • Matthew Phillips had his 17 game point streak snapped. It marked the first time this season the dynamic forward failed to hit the score sheet.  
  • It was nice to touch base during the morning skate with Ron Sutter. Sutter is a development coach with the Calgary Flames and is a salt of the earth type of guy. Sadly, up until yesterday, I had seen him around many arenas, but never engaged him in conversation nor an interview. I thought he was terrific explaining his role with the Flames and how he is able to communicate with prospects on how they can improve their game. 
  • In talking to Ron Sutter, I had to ask him, of all the Sutter brothers to play in the NHL, which one is the best? His answer? Brent Sutter.  
  • The team announced before the game that second year forward Erik Gardiner is out indefinitely after being hit in the helmet with a puck last week against the Tri City Americans. While symptom free after the incident, he developed symptoms several days later while being monitored by medical staff. Gardner continues to be monitored by team physicians and no time line has been set for his return. 
  • These two teams meet again tonight here in Victoria. I understand it's 80's night which is right in my wheelhouse. I just may pull out my rugby pants, beer shirt and high tops. If it's cold in the arena tonight my over sized sweatshirt will come in handy. 
  • On the 'Kelowna Rockets This Week' on AM 1150 this evening at 6 o'clock, we spent time with assistant coach Kris Mallette looking back at his playing career. We will discuss his experience at the NHL draft (Mallette was a third rounder of Philadelphia), his lack for fear to fight and his future aspirations as a coach in the WHL.   

Friday, November 3, 2017

Rockets face the 'Big Dog'.

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets are in their 27th year of existence since coming into the Western Hockey League as an expansion franchise in 1991. After four seasons in Tacoma, the team relocated to Kelowna in 1995-96, where the team has spent the last 22 years in the Okanagan. The team has four WHL championships (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015) and have missed the playoffs only once in their existence. The hockey club has made four straight appearances in the Western Conference final and has registered 40 or more wins in five consecutive seasons.

Rockets/Royals Preview: This is the second of eight meetings between these two teams this season. The Rockets are 0-1-0-0 after a 8-3 home ice loss back October 4th. Regan Nagy had three goals in the win. The Rockets were 6-2-0-0 against the Royals last season and are 14-10-1-0 in the last 25 regular season appearances between the two teams.

Rockets face Russians: Three members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to Team WHL for the CIBC Canada-Russia series. Dillon Dube, Kole Lind and Cal Foote will play in two games against the touring Russian team on November 6th in Moose Jaw and again November 7th in Swift Current. Dube is the WHL captain. Sixteen year-old defenceman Kaedan Korczak and Rockets goalie prospect Roman Basran are competing at Hockey Canada’s World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek/Fort St. John November 5-11th.  Rockets assistant coach Travis Crickard will be a member of the coaching staff of one of three Canadian teams participating. 

Broadcasters Notebook: This is somewhat of a homecoming for three members of the Kelowna Rockets. Kyle Topping is from Salt Spring Island while rookies Ted Brennan is from Victoria and Kyle Pow is from Nanaimo…Carsen Twarynski has 6 goals in his last four games…Head Coach Jason Smith turned 44 yesterday….James Porter has started in 8 of the last 10 games…Kyle Topping has goals in five of his last 9 games … The Rockets boast one first round NHL draft pick and two second rounders. Cal Foote was chosen 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in June while Kole Lind (2nd round (33rd) Canucks - 2017) and Dillon Dube (2nd round (56th) Flames - 2016) were picked in the second round….Nolan Foote, last season’s rookie of the year, is not eligible to be drafted until June 2019…The Rockets are 3 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube and Carsen Twarynski. The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 4-1-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….November birthdays include Kyle Topping (Nov 18th), Carsen Twarynski (Nov 24th) and Nolan Foote (Nov 29th)…The Rockets make a return visit to Victoria February 9th and 10th.

Who’s Hot? Leif Mattson has goals in three of his last four games.…Carsen Twarynski has goals in three of his last four games and has 6 goals over that stretch…Kyle Topping has points in four of his last five games (2+4=6) and has points in 7 of his last 9 games…Cal Foote has two goals in four games.

Milestones: Dillon Dube is 5 assists shy of 100 in his career…Kole Lind hit the 100 assist mark Saturday against Prince George…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game last Saturday against the Cougars…James Hilsendager is 5 games shy of 200 for his career.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager          
19’s (1998) - 4   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 10   Porter, Nolan 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, November 2, 2017

Add another one to the list

Fight Night:

thought I had experienced it all. Over my 23 years in the Western Hockey League, I’ve pretty much seen everything imaginable. In my first year behind the mic in 1995, I called a brawl involving the visiting Swift Current Broncos and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. All I remember was how overwhelmed I was in identifying who was fighting who. Bodies were pouring over the benches as tempers started to flare. It was like a volcano erupting as players came flying over the boards and started punching one another. I looked to my far right and it was total mayhem. I glanced to my left and mayhem ensued in that direction. The one thing that stands out for me that night was little Tyler Willis, as scrappy as they come, in the middle of it all and genuinely loving it.

Bomb Scare: 

I’ve experienced a bomb scare at the old Medicine Hat Arena. With no colour analyst beside me, during a stoppage of play, I began to give some random statistic as I waited for the two teams to arrive at the face-off circle. Typically, you can hear the public address announcer mumble something over the arena speaker system during stoppages, but it’s background noise to me. On this night though, as I wait for the two teams to resume play, the fans directly across from my broadcast location began to stand up and leave for the exits. At this point I am not sure what’s going on, but I continue to throw out statistic after statistic not knowing that danger is possibly lurking in the building. Suddenly, the two teams leave the ice surface and head for their respective dressing rooms. I finally clue in that something the public address announcer said was of utmost importance. A member of the Tigers staff, Dave Andjelic, came running into my broadcast booth out of breath, with a concerned look on his face and he blurted out, "There could be a bomb in the building, you need to leave now”.  Not knowing how to handle the situation, I resumed broadcasting back to the listeners in Swift Current, telling them the situation and that I would have to leave immediately while officials determine if a bomb indeed was present in the building. I didn't know if the game would continue momentarily or if it would be postponed. I quickly left my broadcasting gear in the booth, put my winter jacket on and ran for the exit. The game would eventually be postponed to the next day.

Roll'n, roll'n, roll'n: 

In my first year of calling games at the WHL level, I had the privilege of doing a game at the home of the Calgary Hitmen, the Calgary Saddledome, also the home of the Flames. I was pumped to be broadcasting from an NHL arena. But when you are green and new to the job, sometimes you are unaware of your surroundings. While I made it successful up to the broadcast booth to call the game, I wasn’t sure exactly how to get down quickly in order to meet the team bus afterwards. At the conclusion of the broadcast, I quickly packed my gear and headed down the elevator in hopes of finding the closest exit to the bus. Back then, being the last person on the bus was frowned upon and often verbal barbs would be thrown at you, specifically if the team was waiting for you after a loss. As I exited the Saddledome with my laptop case strung around my neck and two hands full of radio gear, I realized that the exit I took was directly at the opposite end of where the bus was situated. Panicking, with the fear of being late, I ran as quickly as I could around the exterior of the building before locating the bus, with everyone aboard, waiting for my late arrival. Seeking a shortcut to the bus, I elected to jump over a five foot handrail and walk down a modestly slopped concrete retaining wall that led to the door of the bus. Hey, it was the quickest way to get there. But as I attempted to leap over the handrail, the strap on my laptop, which was hanging around my neck, broke, and the laptop, like a tire rolling unimpeded down a hill, went painfully end-over-end-over-end down the retaining wall before meeting its fate by crashing to the ground near the bus door. Devastated at the prospect of my laptop being destroyed, I made the slow decent towards the carnage, picked up the vital piece of technology from the pavement and humbly entered the bus looking like my dog had just died. On this occasion, nothing was said to me as I slowly made my way to my seat, but those who witnessed it first hand, must have been laughing inside.   

PO'D GM:

Did I ever mention the time an opposing WHL general manager grabbed the microphone that I was using to call a playoff game and ripped it out of my hands in frustration? At the Civic Centre in Swift Current, the visiting team's management sat up in a press box which was right beside the home radio broadcast location. When the Broncos would score a goal, fans below the press box would often celebrate by banging on the side of the wooden structure, sending the sound reverberating higher to those sitting above. With tensions on the ice escalating and the officiating tilted towards the Broncos, the home team scored a series of power play goals. The GM (I won't mention who) after hearing the banging, assumed it was me and quickly got out of his seat to confront me. I remember looking to my left and seeing a red faced man peer from the other booth with an angry scowl on his face. He proceeded to say a few unkind words to me, before grabbing the stick mic out of my hand and tossing it on the table in front of me in frustration. Shocked, I picked the mic up, went about my business of calling the game while slowly coming to grips with what had just happened. My main fear was if the Broncos scored again, and the banging from below started, would the angry GM peer over from the other side and punch me in the nose this time? Thankfully that never happened. Neither a punch was thrown nor a Broncos goal was scored. An apology from the offending GM came later.

Say hello to my little friend:

Despite all of the things I’ve experienced both on the air and off it, I have never been forced to use my cellphone to call a hockey game. Never! I have heard horror stories of others dealing with broadcast equipment not working or phone lines dying with no recourse but to use a cellphone to keep the broadcast of the game ‘on the air.’ I often thanked my lucky stars that it had never happened to me. I felt fortunate to be one of the lucky few for this mishap not to happen…until it did Wednesday night! Calling a game at the Toyota Center, the home of the Tri City Americans, I heard a click in my headset microphone about six minutes into the first period. Quickly, I looked down at my broadcast equipment, with the monitor saying ‘dial tone lost’. Not good. It also isn’t good when the station operator in Kelowna texts you back saying the phone-line I am using in Kennewick rings busy. He can't call me back nor can I contact him. I was told by someone in the press box at Toyota Center that the supplier of the phone line and the Internet inside the building, not only in my location but throughout the building was out. After searching quickly on Twitter, Internet service impacted residence across Kennewick and Richland. According to some tweets, it happens often in that area. I had no other option but to use my cellphone to call the rest of the game. 
Your average person would classify this situation as ‘no big deal’, but it is like riding a bike but instructing you to do so without the use of pedals. It isn't easy. It is uncomfortable and the broadcast suffers greatly. But hey, it was a one off...right? (gulp)

What do I come away with after this latest experience? A roaming charge phone bill that will exceed 70 minutes of airtime and a memory that will last a lifetime. It is always an adventure in my world with never a dull moment.
Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way!


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Rockets/Americans game notes

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets are in their 27th year of existence since coming into the Western Hockey League as an expansion franchise in 1991. After four seasons in Tacoma, the team relocated to Kelowna in 1995-96, where the team has spent the last 22 years in the Okanagan. The team has four WHL championships (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015) and have missed the playoffs only once in their existence. The hockey club has made four straight appearances in the Western Conference final and has registered 40 or more wins in five consecutive seasons.

Rockets/Americans – Round 3: This is the third meeting between these two teams in the last 15 days. The Rockets are 1-1-0-0, having lost 2-1 in Tri City before earning a 4-3 overtime win October 27th.  James Porter has started both games in goal for the Rockets while Beck Warm and Patrick Dea have shared the duties for the Americans. The Rockets are 11 and 3 in the last 14 regular season meetings between the two teams but are just 4-3-0-0 in their last 7 regular season appearances at Toyota Centre.

Rockets face Russians: Three members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to Team WHL for the CIBC Canada-Russia series. Dillon Dube, Kole Lind and Cal Foote will play in two games against the touring Russian team on November 6th in Moose Jaw and again November 7th in Swift Current. Dube is the WHL captain. Sixteen year-old defenceman Kaedan Korczak and Rockets goalie prospect Roman Basran are competing at Hockey Canada’s World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek/Fort St. John November 5-11th.  Rockets assistant coach Travis Crickard will be a member of the coaching staff of one of three Canadian teams participating. 

Broadcasters Notebook: Carsen Twarynski has 6 goals in his last three games…Head Coach Jason Smith turns 44 next Thursday…Kole Lind leads the team with 46 shots on net….James Porter has started in 7 of the last 9 games…Kyle Topping has goals in five of his last 8 games … The Rockets boast one first round NHL draft pick and two second rounders. Cal Foote was chosen 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in June while Kole Lind (2nd round (33rd) Canucks - 2017) and Dillon Dube (2nd round (56th) Flames - 2016) were picked in the second round….Nolan Foote, last season’s rookie of the year, is not eligible to be drafted until June 2019…The Rockets are 3 and 1 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube and Carsen Twarynski. The only loss in OT came against the Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 4-1-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games.

Who’s Hot? Leif Mattson has goals in three straight games. Mattson has scored those three goals on just five shots…Carsen Twarynski has goals in three straight games and has 6 goals over that stretch…Kyle Topping is riding a four game point streak (2+4=6) and has points in 7 of his last 8 games…Cal Foote has two goals in three games.

Milestones: Dillon Dube is 6 assists shy of 100 in his career…Kole Lind hit the 100 assist mark Saturday against Prince George…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game Saturday against the Cougars…James Hilsendager is 6 games shy of 200 for his career.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 4   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 10   Porter, Nolan 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, October 29, 2017

Porter propels Rockets to home ice win

Shoot the Breeze Photography

  • Goaltender James Porter was the best player on the Kelowna Rockets power play. That my friends is not good. Your goalie should be a non-factor in that situation as he watches the play develop from the other end of the ice. Not on this night though. In a 4-2 win over the Prince George Cougars Saturday night, the 17 year-old bailed out the power play several times by making breakaway saves.  Porter's best stop came when Brogan O'Brien was awarded a penalty shot while shorthanded in the second period. Porter, while committing early on O'Brien's backhand attempt, he was able to kick his left leg out hard enough to dislodge the puck from O' Brien's blade. Then in the third period, with the Rockets holding a 4-2 lead, Porter faced Cougars forward Cody McDonald on a shorthanded breakaway and again came up large. The best player on the ice for both teams, Porter was the main reason why the Rockets were able to extend their winning streak to three games. 
  • The Cougars were the better team in the first eight minutes but it would be the Rockets that would score the opening goal. Second year forward Leif Mattson made a nice move with the puck at the blue-line and showed tremendous finish in helping the Rockets to a 1-0 lead. Mattson, who has been elevated to a top six forward role has goals in three straight games. From there the game was fairly even, with both teams having a hard time executing passes. Anything in excess of 10 feet resulted in a pass either being too far in front, behind or in the skates of the recipient. Tape-to-tape passes were hard to come by in this game and both teams struggled mightily in that department. 
  • While Leif Mattson is elevating his play after being hurt opening night against Kamloops, second year forward Kyle Topping is also having a solid campaign. Topping scored his 7th goal of the season last night and is now halfway to the 14 goals he scored in 59 games in his rookie season. The thought was several second year players would make significant contributions offensively this season and Mattson and Topping have done that. Surprisingly the quietest of the bunch has been Nolan Foote. Foote has only three goals in 14 games and is the beneficiary of power play time. While his stick has yet to get hot, the good news is the still 16 year-old (November 29th birthday) is shooting the puck more and should average five shots on goal per game. With a wicked release, the younger Foote should be firing it every chance he gets. Remember, he scored 19 goals last season and was named the Rockets rookie of the year. 
  • The Rockets hit two goal posts when Dillon Dube rang one off the bar and defenceman Braydyn Chizen also hit the pipe with a third period blast from the blue line. 
  • The good news about this three game winning streak is it hasn't been all about Kole Lind and Dillon Dube. While threats every time they have the puck, the two marquee forwards haven't been carrying the offensive mail. Lind has 1 goal in his last 8 games while Dube has two goals in his last 8 contests. If those two were doing all the scoring, which frankly they were at the start of the season, it would be concerning. It is nice to see others chipping in for the greater good of the team. I will take a diversified attack over a one trick pony. At the end of the day, Dube and Lind have to be on the score-sheet for the team to have long term success, but secondary sources of offensive is a welcome sign. 
  • Kole Lind reached the 100 assist mark with Kyle Topping's second period goal.
  • Carsen Twarynski, who has scored goals in three straight games, now leads the team with 9 this season. The 20 year-old also played in his 200th career game last night.  
  • A solid four game home stand for the Rockets concluded Saturday night. The team picked up 6 out of a possible 8 points with wins over Portland, Tri City and Prince George. Now the team opens November with a three game road trip this week with stops in Tri City (Wednesday) and back-to-back games in Victoria this weekend. Are the Rockets for real? While it is only five weeks into the season, this upcoming road trip will tell us a lot about how good this team appears to be.  

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gardiner's 'heads up' play leads Rockets to win

Shoot the Breeze Photography


  • They say imitation is flattery. With Halloween just around the corner, it looked like Kelowna Rockets forward Erik Gardiner was attempting to look like a modern day Jason Smith. With his head coach looking on from the bench, Gardiner blocked a shot late in the third period with his head. Yes, his head! A blast from the point hit him on the helmet as he was attempting to kill off a Tri City power play. I am sure the 18 year-old didn't exactly want that particular sequence to play out that way, but the warrior mentality that was a staple in Jason Smith's playing career has clearly rubbed off on the second year winger. With many gasping in the building as Gardiner went down in considerable pain and the replay was shown on the video screen, Gardiner took off his helmet, rubbed his head a few times before eventually making his way to his feet. Surprisingly, Gardiner stayed in the game, blocked another key shot on an Americans power play in overtime and then set up Carsen Twarynski for the game winner. What a night for Gardiner, who did everything in his power to help the Rockets earn a 4-3 overtime victory while stopping the Tri City Americans 6 game winning streak. At the end of the night, Gardiner, no worse for wear, must have earned brownie points from Coach Smith who wouldn't give an inch in his playing days.
  • I had a chance to see a photo of Gardiner's helmet that had a face shield attached to it when the puck came dangerously at him. The helmet, thankfully, absorbed the blow. The face shield also played a massive factor in keeping the vulnerable Gardiner safe. Can you image what may have happened if he wasn't wearing the face shield? While the shield cracked, it had to have played a roll into why he was never cut. I am always astonished by players that are forced to wear a face shield in junior but then get rid of it as soon as they play pro hockey. With your eyes so important, clearly the face shield keeps pucks and sticks from coming dangerously towards them. Last time I looked, pardon the pun, we only have one set. 
  • It only seemed fitting that Gardiner assisted on the game winning goal after two heroic shot blocks, one with time ticking down in the third period and the other in overtime. Gardiner's long bomb pass from his own blue line to an awaiting Carsen Twarynski set the stage for the 20 year-old to skate in and fire a wrist shot high to Americans goaltender Patrick Dea's glove hand side. It was Twarynski's second goal of the game and fifth in two games. The third round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers had a three goal game against Portland last weekend and scored twice in last night's win.
  • Dillon Dube, with a goal and an assist, was named the first star. The 19 year-old, who will captain Team WHL against the Russian Selects next month, was a force on the ice and showed off his skill when he stick handled away from two defenders at the Americans blue line. With one quick pass, Dube located Twarynski at the right face-off circle for a one timer. It was perfectly executed. 
  • Again, a really good outing from rookie goaltender James Porter. The 17 year-old made several timely saves and can only really be blamed for the shorthanded goal the Americans scored in the first period. Porter made an ill-advised attempt to play the puck in the right corner in his own zone, only to pass it up the middle of the ice where Tri City forward Parker Aucoin slapped it off of Jack Cowell's stick and the puck went slowly and painfully into the wide open net. In the end the play didn't cost the team. Hey, live and learn. 
  • It was nice to see the coaching staff reward second year forward Leif Mattson by bumping him up into a top six forward role in last night's win. Mattson wasn't without his flaws, but managed to score the tying goal late in the third period and also chipped in with an assist. 
  • The Rockets conclude the four game home stand tonight against the visiting Prince George Cougars. These two teams had to use overtime in back-to-back games at CN Centre earlier this month where Kole Lind and Dillon Dube played hero!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Rockets/Americans clash

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets are in their 27th year of existence since coming into the Western Hockey League as an expansion franchise in 1991. After four seasons in Tacoma, the team relocated to Kelowna in 1995-96, where the team has spent the last 22 years in the Okanagan. The team has four WHL championships (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015) and have missed the playoffs only once in their existence. The hockey club has made four straight appearances in the Western Conference final and has registered 40 or more wins in five consecutive seasons.

Rockets/Americans Déjà vu: Didn’t we just play these guys 11 days ago? Don’t we play these guys Wednesday? The answer to both questions is - yes. The Kelowna Rockets suffered a 2-1 loss to the Americans last Tuesday. Dillon Dube scored the lone goal in the setback. The two teams meet this Wednesday in Kennewick for the third time in 15 days. The seasonal series wraps up January 3rd in Kelowna.   

Rockets face Russians: Three members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to Team WHL for the ICBC Canada-Russia series. Dillon Dube, Kole Lind and Cal Foote will play in two games against the touring Russian team on November 6th in Moose Jaw and again November 7th in Swift Current. Dube is the WHL captain. At the same time, 16 year-old defenceman Kaedan Korczak and Rockets goalie prospect Roman Basran will compete at Hockey Canada’s World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek/Fort St. John November 5-11th.  Rockets assistant coach Travis Crickard will be a member of the coaching staff of one of three Canadian teams participating. 

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets are riding a 13 game home ice winning streak against the Tri City Americans. The last time the Americans won a regular season game at Prospera Place was September 29/ 2010 in a 4-3 victory…Head Coach Jason Smith turns 44 next Thursday…Kole Lind leads the team with 44 shots on net….James Porter has started in 5 of the last 7 gamesThis is game three of four straight on home ice. The Rockets host Prince George tomorrow night…Kyle Topping has goals in four of his last 6 games ….After opening up the scoring in the first seven games of the regular season, the opposition has opened the scoring in four of the last five games…The Rockets boast one first round NHL draft pick and two second rounders. Cal Foote was chosen 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in June while Kole Lind (2nd round (33rd) Canucks - 2017) and Dillon Dube (2nd round (56th) Flames - 2016) were picked in the second round….Nolan Foote, last season’s rookie of the year, is not eligible to be drafted until June 2019…Kole Lind has points in 10 of 12 games this season.

Porter enters record books: Rookie goaltender James Porter joined an elusive group by becoming only the third American born goaltender in Kelowna Rockets franchises history to start a game. Porter, from Bonners Ferry, Idaho joined Adam Brown (Yorba Linda, California) and Mark Guggenberger (Richfield, Minnesota) when he started a game in Prince George October 7/17.

Milestones: Dillon Dube is 7 assists shy of 100 in his career…Kole Lind is 1 assists shy of 100 for his career…Carsen Twarynski is 2 games shy of 200 for his career…James Hilsendager is 8 games shy of 200 for his career.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 4   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 10   Porter, Nolan 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