Thursday, January 19, 2017

Take the point and run

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Calvin Thurkauf was the best player on the ice in the third period. The 19 year-old was dominant at the face-off circle, drew two penalties with his speed and power, scored a goal on a terrific wrist shot to tie the score and blocked two shots late in the period to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately for the Kelowna Rockets, that effort was one of the few bright spots in a lackluster 3-2 overtime loss last night to the Moose Jaw Warriors. Honestly, I would walk away from that game with a smile on my face if I was the home team. Looking flat after three emotionally filled games on the road, the power play couldn't score a goal in seven opportunities, which included two 5 on 3's. On this night the power play could have saved them. It simply let them down. Brayden Burke scored the game winner with an innocent looking wrister from just inside the blue-line that beat Michael Herringer for the game winner. The overtime point moves the Rockets within a single point of the Blazers in the battle for second place in the BC Division.
  • It was nice to see Geordie Ballhorn back in the lineup. After missing 21 games, Ballhorn showed a little 'rink rust' but almost scored the opening goal when his wrister handcuffed Warriors goaltender Brody Willms. Willms, I thought,  played extremely well for the visitors with some timely saves including a beauty in the third period. Rockets alumni Jordon Cooke was always good at making the timely saves, the stops you look back at and say to yourself, "Had he not kept that puck out, the complexion of the game would have changed". Willms did that for the Warriors and deserved a star in the building.  
  • Nick Merkley opened the scoring for the Rockets with a wrap around goal in the second period to make it 2-1. Merkley appeared to make the wrong decision when he skated with speed inside the Warriors zone and had beaten a Warriors d-man to the outside for a glorious scoring chance. Instead of cutting towards the net, which appeared to be the obvious decision, Merkley surprised everyone in the building by skating with the puck behind the net and wrapping the puck around the goal, beating Willms to the far post. It was Merkley's 11th goal of the season. It was Merkley's second goal in 11 games.  
  • I thought Brett Howden was the Warriors best skater. I love his power move in overtime where he attempted to beat a defender one-on-one. Howden's power play goal with a quick wrister from the left face-off circle, when he shoots left handed, was impressive. It is far easier to one time the puck from the right face-off dot when left handed, but the Tampa Bay Lightning first round pick was able to fire it home despite it being in an awkward position for him to rip it home.
  • The Rockets have struggled against what is considered a poor East Division this season. The team has lost home games to Saskatoon, Swift Current and now earned only a single point against the Warriors. The team has beaten visiting Prince Albert but also had to use overtime in a home ice win against Regina.  
  • The Rockets played the game without forward Reid Gardiner. Gardiner was hurt after colliding with teammate Calvin Thurkauf Monday in Everett. I spoke to Gardiner, who told me he is feeling good and won't be out long term. 
  • Despite limited duty, I thought the best line early in the game was the fourth line that included Jack Cowell, Kyle Topping and Leif Mattson. That trio had some 'pop' in their game. Topping returning to the line-up after missing 6 games with an injury. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rockets vs. Warriors preview

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets host the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight in the lone meeting of the season between the two teams. Last season, in Moose Jaw, Jackson Whistle earned the shutout in a 1-0 win. The game, December 16th, saw the lone goal come off the stick of Dillon Dube at the 17:43 mark of the second period. The Warriors last made an appearance at Prospera Place February 14th, 2015 in a 6-0 loss. Jake Morrissey earned the shutout with a 28 save performance. The last time a Warriors player scored on a Rockets goalie was in the third period of a game in Moose Jaw December 11, 2013. Scott Cooke scored a third period goal on Jordon Cooke. No, I did not make that up. The shutout streak for the Rockets against the Warriors is 131:34 seconds. The Rockets are riding a four game winning streak against the Warriors. The last loss came December 10, 2011 in a 4-1 setback in Moose Jaw. Shane McColgan scored the lone goal while Rockets assistant coach Adam Brown was tagged with the loss.  

Rewards on Roady: The Rockets completed a three game road trip Monday afternoon with a 5-4 loss in Everett. Despite the setback, the team earned four out of possible 6 points and out-scored the opponent 17-10. The Rockets beat the Victoria Royals by scores of 4-3 and 9-2. The team has played a BC Division high 26 road games and head back on the road to face the Vancouver Giants in Langley on Friday night.

That’s a Fact Jack: Defenceman Gordie Ballhorn returns to the line-up tonight after missing 21 games after being injured November 22nd against Victoria…Jack Cowell has 2+2=4 in his last two games. It took him 26 games to score his first-two goals of his WHL career…The Rockets are playing the second game of four games in 6 nights. The Rockets visit the Vancouver Giants Friday before welcoming Portland Saturday night…Cal Foote’s penalty Monday afternoon in Everett was his first minor penalty in 11 games…The Rockets have surrendered 5 or more goals 8 times this season. The teams’ record, not surprisingly, is 0-7-1-0…4 of the Rockets next 6 games are against teams from outside the BC Division…Four of the next five games will be played on home ice…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 7 of his last 10 games…Tomas Soustal hit the 100 point mark for his career with two assists Monday in Everett……Dillon Dube has been held off the score-sheet just 4 times this season….7 of the teams last 10 games have been decided by a goal …Carsen Twarynski, a third round NHL pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, is making his Kelowna Rockets debut tonight against the Warriors…Reid Gardiner and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote…The Rockets are 15-6-3-0 in their last 24 games and have points in 16 of their last 21 (13-5-3-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game.

Broadcasters Bits: The Rockets are the only team in the WHL with two players on their current roster that are first round NHL draft picks. Nick Merkley was chosen in the 1srt round by the Arizona Coyotes while Lucas Johansen was selected in the opening round by the Washington Capitals…GM Bruce Hamilton has
traded/released six players from the teams opening day roster…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …The Rockets were 8-3-2-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 9-9-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 28 of the last 36 games…The Rockets are 8-1-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 January 2nd. Reid Gardiner turns 21 tomorrow (January 19th).  Assistant Coach Kris Mallette turns significantly older on that same day. Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also has a birthday in January…The Kelowna Rockets made four deals in advance of the WHL trade deadline. The Rockets acquired 19 year-old forward Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round bantam pick for 18 year-old Jake Kryski. The team shipped 18 year-old Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round bantam pick.  The team acquired Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders for a 1st round pick, a 5th round pick and a conditional 5th round selection. To make room for Gardiner, Riley Stadel was sent to Edmonton for a 5th round selection.   



Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The one that got away

Chris Mast Photo
  • It was a game that was gettable. Does that make sense? As the Kelowna Rockets bus left Xfinity Arena last night after a 5-4 road loss to the Everett Silvertips, the visitors could take solace in the fact that they were good enough to compete against the elite. Yes, the Silvertips, if you haven't noticed, have lost only 5 times in regulation and are considered one of the teams out there to challenge for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. The Rockets showed Monday afternoon that they have more than enough fire power to beat the defensive minded Tips, who average only 1.78 goals per game against on home ice. The Rockets scored twice as many goals than the seasonal average, but the problem was they surrendered five goals against. The reason behind the loss? Two things. Penalties would be one and less than average goaltending would be the other. Michael Herringer, who I am a big supporter, did not have a good night in net. It pains me to state it here, but I can't hide the fact he wasn't very good. The 20 year-old allowed 4 goals on 11 shots with three of them that Herringer would normally stop in his sleep. Two, I swear, were on the ice. As a 20 year-old on a very good team, he just need to be solid, not spectacular. It is a role he is going to have to accept where he won't be forced into making as many five alarm saves.
  • In the loss to the Tips, the Rockets were on there game. While Herringer struggled, his teammates battled back three times to tie the score at 3. The Rockets out-shot the Tips 12-8 in the opening 20 minutes and were not making glaring defensive mistakes. The visitors were in this game and were attempting to be only the fourth team to beat Everett in regulation time on home ice this season. When Tips overager Dominic Zwerger scored a power play goal from the left face-off circle to make the score 4-3, the coaching staff finally pulled Herringer in favour of Brodan Salmond. Honestly, I was surprised the hook didn't come earlier, but to the credit of the coaching staff, despite early struggles, they allowed Herringer the ability to find his game. Unfortunately that didn't happen.
  • If I am going to be honest about goaltending, let me point out that Tips goaltender Carter Hart was no shining light out there either. I thought the 18 year-old was also average at best and appeared to be fighting the puck early when defenceman Lucas Johansen's shot from the blue-line beat him to tie the score at 1. That's what makes this loss tough to handle. Hart did not steal it away from the Rockets with a goaltending display of epic proportions. The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick looked human which made a win at Xfinity Arena even more attainable.   
  • The Silvertips scored three power play goals in the win. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering the teams power play unit is top 5 in the WHL. You just need to be smart as a team and stay out of the penalty box. Control your emotions and have control of your stick. At the end of the day, The Tips had 7 power play chances. That number needs to be reduced to three - maximum. The good teams are able to fight through adversity, whether it is a none-call or surrendering a bad goal. The championship teams don't get rattled. Let's see if in the final 26 games of the regular season if the Rockets can improve in that area. Do they have the horses to compete against the best? Without question, but smart hockey must be the order of the day.
  • The Rockets not only lost the game, but 20 year-old forward Reid Gardiner. Gardiner collided at a high rate of speed with teammate Calvin Thurkauf between the benches in the second period and went down hard, likely hitting his head on the ice. Gardiner, after laying on the ice for about a minute, got up but appeared to be weak in his knees as Athletic Therapist Scott Hoyer helped him to the bench. Up to that point, Gardiner was having a solid game with 2 assists and was a difference maker every time he was out on the ice. 
  • Dillon Dube hit two goal posts and had a breakaway in the third period that Hart appeared to get his glove hand on, steering the puck wide. While Dube didn't have the glorious scoring chances he did against Victoria in back-to-back games, the 18 year-old still had no less than three opportunities to find the back of the net. 
  • The game ended with the Rockets getting one real good look in the dying seconds when Nick Merkely set up Tomas Soustal for a quick shot at the left face-off circle that Carter Hart came across to kick out his right bad. When the buzzer sounded, Rockets head coach Jason Smith and Tips assistant coach Mitch Love were seen jawing at one another in a heated discussion. I love the passion of both coaches, who I know both personally as good men, who are competitors that will defend their teams honour. I look forward to the next match-up between these two teams March 3rd.
  • A quick mention about a conversation I had with Tips GM Gary Davidson before the game. I find Gary extremely approachable and his insight and honesty made for great radio. I like the fact that he shared with me the Tips interest in Carsen Twarynski and his overall view of the trades that were made by other teams in the Western Conference. Victoria Royals GM Camerson Hope was also terrific when I interviewed him prior to Friday night's game against the Royals.   

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rockets game notes vs.Tips

Shoot the Breeze Photorgraphy
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets close out a three game road trip this afternoon against the Everett Silvertips. The Rockets are 1-0-0-0 in the seasonal series after a 4-3 overtime victory back on October 19th. Lucas Johansen scored the game winning goal at the 1:04 mark of the extra session. Rodney Southam, Devante Stephens and Nolan Foote also scored in the win. Michael Herringer made 19 saves with the team going 2 for 4 with the man advantage. The Rockets out-shot the Tips 27-22. Following this afternoon game, the seasonal series concludes March 3rd (In Everett) and March 15th (In Kelowna). Last season, the Rockets were 1-1-0-0 in Everett with a 3-1 loss and a 6-5 overtime win. In the OTW, Justin Kirkland scored the game winner at the 1:24 mark. In the last 13 meetings between these two teams, the Rockets are 8-2-3-0. The Rockets are coming off a 9-2 win Saturday night over the Victoria Royals. Dillon Dube had 3+1=4 in the win. Overall, the Rockets have won 7 of its last 11 games (7-3-1-0) and have points in 9 of its last 12 games (7-3-2-0). The Rockets host Moose Jaw Wednesday night and then travel to Vancouver Friday night.

That’s a Fact Jack: The Rockets are playing their 26th road game this afternoon in Everett. Only Tri City (28) has played more road games than the Rockets/Saskatoon Blades…Dillon Dube’s three goal game Saturday night marked the third time a Rockets player has scored a hat trick this season. Kyle Topping and Calvin Thurkauf also have three goal games under their belt…5 of the Rockets next 7 games are against teams from outside the BC Division…Following this game in Everett, four of the next five games will be played on home ice…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 7 of his last 9 games…Thurkauf has the exact same number of goals as he did in his rookie season (18)…Tomas Soustal is two points shy of 100 for his career…Cal Foote is two points shy of the 36 he put up last season…Dillon Dube has been held off the score-sheet just three times this season….6 of the teams last 9 games have been decided by a goal …Carsen Twarynski, a third round NHL pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, made his Kelowna Rockets debut Wednesday night in Victoria…Reid Gardiner and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote…The Rockets are 15-5-3-0 in their last 23 games and have points in 16 of their last 20 (13-4-3-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game.

Trade Winds Blow: The Kelowna Rockets made four deals in advance of the WHL trade deadline. The Rockets acquired 19 year-old forward Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round bantam pick for 18 year-old Jake Kryski. The team shipped 18 year-old Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round bantam pick.  The team acquired Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders for a 1st round pick, a 5th round pick and a conditional 5th round selection. To make room for Gardiner, Riley Stadel was sent to Edmonton for a 5th round selection.   

Broadcasters Bits: These two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since the 2010 season, when in the opening round, the Rockets won the series in 7 games. In the game seven win, March 29, 2010, Mark Guggenberger made 40 saves and was named the first star in a 2-1 win. George Wudrick had 7 goals in that 7 game series…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL with two players on their current roster that are first round NHL draft picks. Nick Merkley was chosen in the 1srt round by the Arizona Coyotes while Lucas Johansen was selected in the opening round by the Washington Capitals…GM Bruce Hamilton has traded/released six players from the teams opening day roster…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …The Rockets were 8-3-2-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 9-9-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 27 of the last 35 games…The Rockets are 8-0-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 January 2nd. Reid Gardiner turns 21 on January 19th along with assistant coach Kris Mallette while Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also has a birthday in January…The Rockets scored 9 goals in a 9-2 win in Victoria Saturday night. The team managed to score 9 goals on the road last season in Portland in a 9-3 win.


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A 'Royal' beatdown


Devante Stephens battles with Matthew Phillips - Jon Howe photo 
  • Beating the Victoria Royals on home ice is doable. Beating them in consecutive meetings is almost impossible. The key word here - almost. The Kelowna Rockets destroyed their BC Division brethren 9-2 Friday night in front of a crowd of over 7 thousand patrons. The win came on the heels of a 4-3 victory Wednesday night at Save on Food's Memorial Centre. Many of the Royals faithful in attendance last night have witnessed the Rockets upset the apple cart before, but not to this degree. Dillon Dube, who is as dominant as we've ever seen him, scored three times in the lopsided win and was named the first start for a second consecutive game. Dube, since returning from the World Junior's, has 5+3=8 in four games and appears to be hitting his stride as one of the best 18 year-old's in the WHL. The 'Golden Jet', as I like to call him considering he was born in Golden BC, has played just 14 regular season games but has 19 points. At this pace and healthy enough to play in every game, Dube would be north of 60 points this season which would have him leading the team in scoring.
  • Playing in only his second game, 19 year-old Carsen Twarynski earned his first point with his new team. It has been suggested that Twarynski is creating more room for Dube and the scoring chances that the Calgary Flames draft pick is creating can be attributed, in part, to Twarynski's presence on the ice. I though the Rockets latest acquisition from the Calgary Hitmen was significantly more noticeable than in Wednesday's debut. Twarynski and Dube led the team with 5 shots on goal apiece.  
  • I didn't have any doubts about the Royals goaltending coming into this series of games on the Island, but honestly, I am not so sure what to think of Griffin Outhouse. The 18 year-old, who I regarded as one of the top three goalies in the Western Conference heading into the road trip, struggled mightily Wednesday and looked worse two days later. From an outside observer, the only thing I can think of is fatigue. While top three in wins and top five in save percentage, Outhouse has played a whopping 40 games this season. That is a ton of work.That number can only be matched by Lethbridge Hurricanes goaltender Stuart Skinner.
  • It was Friday the 13th and that may have played a factor in last night's lopsided score. When defensive defenceman James Hilsendager scored his second goal of the season less than three minutes into the game, it was a sign that it may be a long night for Outhouse and the Royals d-core. After surrendering four goals, Royals head coach Dave Lowry pulled Outhouse in favour of affiliated goalie Dean McNabb. The 16 year-old brother of NHL'er Brayden McNabb didn't fare well, surrendering two goals on four shots before Lowry re-inserted Outhouse in an attempt to stop the bleeding. 
  • At one point in the game, the Rockets had more goals (8) than the Royals had shots (6). Playing almost exclusively in the offensive zone, Michael Herringer had another easy evening where he faced under 22 shots for the 8th time in his last 12 starts. 
  • The rematch after the Rockets earned a 4-3 win Wednesday was a chippy affair. When Lucas Johansen is fighting Vladimir Bobylev, you know frustration is boiling over. Johansen has gone to the penalty box just 8 times this season and has never gotten into a fight at the WHL level. I loved the way captain Rodney Southam skated past the penalty box, with Johansen sitting inside, tapping his stick on the glass as a gesture to the 19 year-old that it was a job well done.
  • While Devante Stephens had the puck taken away from him by Jack Walker for a first period breakaway goal, the 19 year-old took away a goal when he blocked a shot that Walker took towards, what appeared to be, a wide open net. With a rare mad scramble around the net and Herringer down and out of position, Stephens calmly skated into a shooting lane and made the save. 
  • The Rockets coaches believed the two games in Victoria would be won or lost on specialty teams. If that indeed was the case, the Rockets were 3/4 on the power play in the two games and 12 for 14 on the penalty kill. Those numbers are awfully impressive. 
  • After further review, rookie Jack Cowell will be credited with a goal and two assists in last night's win. It is Cowell's first-three point game of his career as he battles with rookies Leif Mattson, Kyle Topping and Nolan Foote for playing time. 
  • The back-to-back wins in Victoria was last accomplished October 25/26, 2013.
  • The Rockets had 13 players hit the score-sheet. Among those that didn't, surprisingly, were leading scorer Kole Lind and Nick Merkley.   
  • Up next, a game in Everett against the stingy Silvertips Monday afternoon. That game will be a clear indicator if the Rockets 'new team' has the ability to play against the elite in the Western Conference.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rockets rally on road vs. Royals

Carsen Twarynski - Jonathon Howe photo
  • The Kelowna Rockets penalty killing unit had an extremely good night. The Victoria Royals power play? Not so much! Despite allowing the Royals eight power play chances, including a double minor to defenceman James Hilsendager less than a minute into the game, the Rockets killed off seven of them in a 4-3 road win. Oddly enough, the Rockets third period rally including a power play goal from Cal Foote, who wired a shot past the blocker side of Royals goaltender Griffin Outhouse. Foote's goal tied the score at three and set the table for Calvin Thurkauf's eventual game winner :38 seconds later. The win, the Rockets 25th of the season, moved them into a two way tie for second place in the BC Division with the idle Kamloops Blazers. The two teams (Rockets/Royals) meet again tomorrow night at Save On Foods Memorial Centre, in a seasonal series that has seen the road team win 3 of the 5 games.
  • Dillon Dube was the best player on the ice. Every time he was out there he was noticeable. The 18 year-old's ability to chase down loose pucks was terrific and the goal he scored was what hockey people like to call, 'a goal scorers goal'. Dube worked to the slot with the puck, out waited Royals defenceman Marsel Ibragimov and then Griffen Outhouse before firing the puck high over the sprawled goaltender.  Dube has come back from the World Junior Hockey Championships loaded with confidence and it shows through his dominant play.
  • One of the more interesting match ups last night was watching Devante Stephens skate against Royals forward Jack Walker. In a battle between two of the best skaters in the Western Conference, 'Devo' didn't lose a step/stride against the quick footed Walker, who can skate as fast with the puck as without it. Again, I am a big fan of Stephens and how he has taken massive strides from the struggles of a season ago. The transformation is a good example of not giving up on a player if he indeed has a bad season.
  • Kole Lind had three assists in what I thought was a quiet game for the teams leading scorer. Having gone a season high 6 games without a goal, the good news is he isn't being relied upon to score like he was in the first three months of the season. Over the first half, Lind was doing the majority of the heavy lifting offensively.
  • A tough night for the goaltenders. I thought Royals netminder Griffen Outhouse, who has been exceptional in the seasonal series, had an off night. You could tell he was really fighting the puck and was overplaying shots. Even a routine blocker save saw the puck spring high in the air and over his head. With the puck in mid-air, Outhouse looked behind himself and used the blade of his stick to swat the puck from entering the net. It may get consideration for the WHL Plays of the Week, but truthfully, a manageable save turned into a fire sale to keep it out. Always a big backer of the goalies, I will point out that Outhouse's best save came against Rockets 20 year-old Reid Gardiner, who attempted to go high glove on the Williams Lake, BC resident from in close, but Outhouse came up large with the second period stop. 
  • Michael Herringer had an off night too. The opening goal he surrendered saw a backhand pass from behind his own net hit teammate Jack Cowell and ricochet in. That is just bad luck and is awfully tough to defend. The Royals power play goal by Ryan Peckford in the second period was stoppable though. Peckford, from in tight, fired the puck into Herringer's body and it squeezed past him on the short side. Bad luck again or preventable goal? I think both would apply here. Herringer's best save came on a point blank stop on Regan Nagy in the second period. Like Herringer's counterpart at the other end, it was a night of ups and downs. 
  • In 7 of Michael Herringer's last 11 starts, the team in front of him has allowed 22 shots or fewer on net. The bottom line is Herringer is benefiting from a team that is really committed to blocking shots and are spending very little time in the defensive zone. 
  • All good things must come to an end including the Royals 18-0-0-0 record when leading after 40 minutes. The Rockets rallied from a 2-1 third period deficit to win the game in regulation time. It was the Rockets 4th win in 19 games when trailing after 2 periods.
  • It was an eventful evening for newcomer Carsen Twarynski. The 19 year-old was noticeable in initiating contact every chance he had. Let's face it, like many teams across the WHL, the Rockets are not an overly physical group. When Twarynski starts hitting people and finishing checks, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I thought he had an effective game and played to his strengths. Assistant Coach Kris Mallette mentioned on our AM 1150 post game show how vocal Twarynski was on the bench and how positive he was verbally with his new teammates. Small detail yes, but worth noting all the same.
  • While the Rockets opening goal was somewhat controversial as the back official called it a goal despite video review showing nothing of the sort, the Royals also got away with one. The back official blew the play dead when Rockets d-man Lucas Johansen fired a shot on goal that Griffen Outhouse stopped, but mishandled, as it went off his catching glove and into the net.  
  • The Rockets are now 9-3-3-0 in one goal games this season. Six of the Rockets last eight games have been one goal games.
  • Cal Foote's power play goal was his first goal in 10 games.
  • Calvin Thurkauf's game winning goal was his 18th of the season. That matches his goal total from all of last season.
  • Captain Rodney Southam has quietly put together a four game point streak. (1+3=4). 
  • Dillon Dube has points in 10 of the 13 games he has played in this season.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rockets open roady vs. Royals

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open a three game road trip tonight in Victoria. This is the 5th meeting of the season between these two teams. The seasonal series is tied at two wins apiece with the Rockets winning 6-4 and 5-1 but the Royals have won the last two games by scores of 6-2 and 2-1. Overall, the Rockets have out-scored their BC Division rivals 14-13. The Rockets are coming off a 3-2 shootout win Saturday night over the Kamloops Blazers. Reid Gardiner and Nick Merkley scored in regulation time while Kole Lind scored the game winner in the shootout as the team snapped a four game winless streak. Brodan Salmond earned the win in goal and was 5 for 6 in the shootout. In the big picture the Rockets have won 5 of its last 9 games (5-3-1-0) and have points in 7 of its last 10 games (5-3-2-0). These two teams meet again Friday before the Rockets travel to Everett to face the Silvertips in a Monday (Martin Luther King Day) afternoon affair on January 16th.  

That’s a Fact Jack: Carsen Twarynski is a third round NHL pick of the Philadelphia Flyers and had a career season with 20+25+45 in 2015-2016. Twarynski had a three goal game last season against the Red Deer Rebels…Did you know that Rockets assistant coach Kris Mallette was a 3rd round pick also of the Flyers back in 1997?...Reid Gardiner won a Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League title with ex-Kelowna Rockets forward Rourke Chartier when they both played with the Saskatoon Contacts in 2011-2012…Gardiner was acquired on the exact same day, two years removed, from the Rockets obtaining Leon Draisaitl’s rights from the PA Raiders…Reid and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote...Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf both missed 8 games with the Kelowna Rockets while attending the World Junior’s. The Rockets were 4-2-2-0 without two of their top forwards…Dillon Dube missed 10 games after playing for Team Canada at the WJHC…The Rockets are 13-5-3-0 in their last 21 games and have points in 14 of their last 18 (11-4-3-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game. Foote is one of only two players on the Rockets roster to play in every game this season. The other is Rodney Southam. Lind leads the team in scoring. The Top Prospects game will be played in Quebec City.

Gardiner X2: The Kelowna Rockets pulled off a significant deal last Friday by acquiring 20 year-old forward Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders. Gardiner is the older brother of rookie forward Erik Gardiner. Reid Gardiner was playing this season in the American Hockey League for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Last season, Gardiner scored 43 goals and collected 92 assists and was named a WHL All-Star. To make room for Gardiner, the team sent 20 year-old Riley Stadel to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a 5th round bantam pick.

Trade Winds Blow: The Kelowna Rockets made two other deals in advance of the WHL trade deadline on Tuesday. The Rockets acquired 19 year-old forward Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round bantam pick for 18 year-old Jake Kryski. The team shipped 18 year-old Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round bantam pick.  

Broadcasters Bits: Kole Lind has 3+4=7 vs Victoria this season. Rodney Southam (4+0) and Tomas Soustal (1+3=4) have also contributed on the scoresheet against their BC Division cousins…Michael Herringer has played in all four games against the Royals, posting a record of 2 and 2 with a goals against average of 3.27…GM Bruce Hamilton has traded/released six players from the teams opening day roster..
Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …The Rockets were 8-3-2-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 7-9-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 25 of the last 33 games…The Rockets are 8-0-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 on Monday. Reid Gardiner turns 21 on January 19th along with assistant coach Kris Mallette while Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also has a birthday in January.


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Monday, January 9, 2017

Rockets add muscle

Shoot the Breeze Photography
The Kelowna Rockets have acquired 19-year-old forward Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round pick from the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for 18-year-old forward Jake Kryski.

The trade came just two days after the Rockets acquired high profile sniper Reid Gardiner in a trade with the Prince Albert Raiders.

“We felt we needed to add a big physical forward and we’re getting that in Carsen. A power forward is something we were lacking,” said Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton. “Jake Kryski is the player that Calgary wanted in return so that’s the price we had to pay.”

Kryski was acquired from Kamloops prior to the start of this season. In his short stint with the Rockets he tallied 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points along with 43 PIMS in 37 games.

The 6-foot-2 200 lb. power forward Twarynski has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points along with 42 PIMS in 36 games with the Hitmen this season. He played a total of 160 games for the Hitmen amassing 35 goals and 51 assists for 86 career WHL points.

Twarynski was taken 82nd overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Rockets will be awarded a third round draft pick if Twarynski does not return to the Rockets from NHL/AHL camps next season as a 20-year-old overage player.

Twarynski is expected to be in a Rockets uniform on Wednesday when they visit the Victoria Royals.


Fans will be able to see Twarynski in action at Prospera Place on January 18th when the Rockets host the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Gardiner's debut doesn't disappoint


Reid Gardiner celebrates - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Could you have written a better script for Reid Gardiner's debut Saturday with the Kelowna Rockets? Perhaps had he scored the game winner in the shootout, but heck, that was a pretty sweet effort in his first game back in the WHL after starting the season in the American Hockey League. Gardiner, acquired Friday from the Prince Albert Raiders, scored the tying goal while shorthanded as his new team snap a four game losing streak. Gardner's performance in a 3-2 shootout win over the Kamloops Blazers could have been more spectacular had Calvin Thurkauf scored on a third period breakaway. Gardiner delivered a perfect backhand pass to a streaking Thurkauf in the high slot but Blazers netminder Dylan Ferguson made the stop. In the end, Gardiner did not disappoint and was named the first star and showed excellent chemistry with linemates Nick Merkley and Calvin Thurkauf.  
  • Reid Gardiner isn't going to parachute down and cure all the offensive woes facing the Kelowna Rockets. That said, the 20 year-old will clearly make an impact in an effort to catch the Prince George Cougars for first place in the BC Division. The ultimate goal for the Rockets is to get their house in order in an effort to play at the ultimate level when the playoff start in late March. But...but...let's enjoy the remaining 30 games left in the regular season and what the 20 year-old sharp shooter can bring to the table and how he energizes and ultimately makes every teammate around him better. 
  • You could see it in warm-up that Gardiner was jacked up to play. His skating pace was quick, the puck came off his stick with velocity and he was ready and willing to be an active participant. I can't see how that can't rub off on his teammates. If Gardiner can be a quiet leader and play with purpose, whether it be a goal or even the ability to make body contact to win a board battle for a loose puck, others will follow his lead. Did Gardiner not have an immediate impact of Nick Merkley? It looked more and more like the 'old Nick Merkley' Saturday night, which included unloading a hard hit on Blazers d-man Luke Zazula in the third period. When Merkey is at his best, he is tenacious in hunting down pucks. He has no quit in his game. If he can get back to that one mainstay in his game that made him so effective as a 16 and 17 year-old, the Arizona Coyotes first rounder is going to make a major impact on the score-sheet.
  • The Rockets played with emotion in last night's game, but it was calculated emotion. Captain Rodney Southam got into Blazers forward Jermaine Loewen's grill on the opening face-off and several teammates attempted to initiate body contact on the well built Loewen. I thought James Hilsendager set the tone in the first period by aggressively running into Loewen at the blue line. In Friday's 3-1 Blazers win, did any Rockets player lay even a hand on Loewen? My guess is no.
  • Devante Stephens may be the goat on the Blazers first goal, but didn't he play an excellent game? I thought 'Devo' was terrific in his battle level along the boards and his skating stride gets him out of trouble. Stephens rarely hesitates in shooting the puck and makes great decisions when to pinch and when to sit back. The Buffalo Sabres need to sign this guy. A late bloomer who is rough around the edges, the 19 year-old is really making an impact on a blueline that is still without hard nosed Gordie Ballhorn. 
  • Cal Foote makes so many small plays that make a major impact on the game. Foote has the ability to get his stick on pucks destined to hit the Rockets net and his ability to cover up for a teammates miscue is uncanny. The best example was in the third period when Blazers Captain Collin Shirley had what appeared to be a grade 'A' scoring chance on goaltender Brodan Salmond in the slot. Foote came from nowhere to poke the puck away to the corner as Shirley was ready to unload the puck. It was a play that likely wasn't noticed by many, but it is the small details in Foote's game that makes one marvel at how terrific of defender he is. 
  • A shout-out to Brodan Salmond. I thought he was solid and appeared to get better with the game on the line. The 18 year-old made several solid stops and snuffed out 5 of 6 shooters in the shootout. Of the two goals he surrendered in regulation time, both were breakaways including Blazers forward Nick Chyzowski, who was awarded a second period penalty shot. 
  • For my money, the Rockets are still passing up way too many shooting opportunities. Dumb down the game. Shoot from everywhere and crash the net. The team is still attempting to make highlight reel passing plays and it isn't necessary. One shift stood out for me in the third period where a shot came from a Rockets d-man and all three forwards skated towards the net in an effort to chase down a rebound. It was picture perfect. While a rebound was not gobbled up and the Blazers cleared the zone, that needs to be constant.    
  • Funniest part of the game came in the shootout when Tomas Soustal scored. Teammate Nick Merkley, thinking the game was over and the Rockets had won, quickly jumped on the ice and skated towards Soustal and gave him a hug. Merkley then realized, that outside of Soustal, he was the only one on the ice, and with a sheepish grin on his face, skated back to the bench realizing the game wasn't over.
  • The Blazers have a gem in defenceman Luke Zazula. I thought he was terrific. The 16 year-old rookie is excellent with the puck and is a tremendous skater. That is a heck of a 4th round pick.
  • Lane Bauer made his debut with the Blazers this weekend and didn't register a point in either of the two games. But don't be fooled with the lack of production. I thought Bauer was noticeable in both games and his 25 goals this season are no fluke. Bauer is dangerous with the puck and makes the Blazers even that much more dynamic in the offensive zone.
  • You can't tell me the Kamloops Blazers are not one of the best teams in the Western Hockey League. Owning the 7th best record in the WHL, the Blazers are no easy out and are a handful for the evenly matched Rockets. Face it, and I'm biased, but the BC Division is the jewel of the WHL this season. Just ask an Eastern Conference opponent. The reason why BC Division teams don't have eye pooping records is because they are eating one another. The head-to-head games against one another is where the majority of the losses are coming from. Of the Rockets 15 losses this season, 8 have come courtesy of a BC Division opponent. I am not complaining. The BC Division hasn't been this heavy loaded....possibly ever...and the inter-division games are going to be much watch hockey. Saturday night's game between the Rockets and Blazers was another good example.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rockets game notes vs. Blazers

Reid Gardiner
Welcome back to Prospera Place for tonight’s tilt between two BC Division rivals separated by three points for second place. This is the 7th meeting of the season, with the Rockets sporting a record of 2-4-0-0 in the first six games. These two teams met last night at the Sandman Centre with the Blazers earning a 3-1 win. Dillon Dube scored the lone goal in the setback. The Rockets were 1 for 2 on the power play while going 6 for 6 on the penalty kill. The Blazers out-shot the Rockets 36-31 in the game.
Overall, the Blazers have out-scored the Rockets 25-13 in the first six games. The Blazers have opened the scoring in 5 of the 6 games. In the last 32 regular season meetings, the Rockets are 24-7-1-0 against their BC Division rivals. Overall, the Rockets have won 4 of its last 8 games (4-3-1-0) and have points in 6 of its last 9 games (4-3-2-0). Next Wednesday and Friday the Rockets visit the Victoria Royals before traveling to Everett to face the Silvertips in a Monday (Martin Luther King Day) afternoon affair on January 16th.  

Gardiner X2: The Kelowna Rockets pulled off a significant deal Friday by acquiring 20 year-old forward Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders. Gardiner is the older brother of rookie forward Erik Gardiner. Reid Gardiner was playing this season in the American Hockey League for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Last season, Gardiner scored 43 goals and collected 92 assists and was named a WHL All-Star. To make room for Gardiner, the team sent 20 year-old Riley Stadel to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a 5th round bantam pick.

Trade Winds Blow: The Kelowna Rockets made one other deal in advance of the WHL trade deadline on Tuesday. The team shipped 18 year-old Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round bantam pick.  

That’s a Fact Jack: Reid Gardiner won a Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League title with ex-Kelowna Rockets forward Rourke Chartier when they both played with the Saskatoon Contacts in 2011-2012…Gardiner was acquired on the exact same day, two years removed, from the Rockets obtaining Leon Draisaitl’s rights from the PA Raiders…Reid and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote...Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf both missed 8 games with the Kelowna Rockets while attending the World Junior’s. The Rockets were 4-2-2-0 without two of their top forwards…Dillon Dube is missed 10 games after playing for Team Canada at the WJHC…The Rockets are 12-5-3-0 in their last 20 games and have points in 13 of their last 17 (10-4-3-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game. Foote is one of only two players on the Rockets roster to play in every game this season. The other is Rodney Southam. Lind leads the team in scoring. The Top Prospects game will be played in Quebec City.

Broadcasters Bits: Jake Kryski is 6 points shy of 100 for his career…James Hilsendager played in career game #150 last night in Kamloops. Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …The Rockets were 8-3-2-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 6-9-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 25 of the last 32 games…The Rockets are 8-0-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 on Monday. Reid Gardiner turns 21 on January 19th while Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also has a birthday in January.

Who’s Hot? Lucas Johansen has a 7 game point streak (0+9=9)…Nolan Foote has goals in three of his last four games  Jake Kryski has 6+5=11 in the last 11 games and 8+7=15 in his last 14 games…Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last 5 gamesTomas Soustal has points in 12 of his last 16 games. The 19 year-old has goals in 10 of his last 19 games and has 10+15=25 over that period… Kole Lind has points in 24 of his last 30 games (16+24=40)…Lind has goals in 11 of his last 19 games.…Nick Merkley has points in 17 of his last 27 games (9+16=25).


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rockets game notes vs. Chiefs

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: Happy New Year! Welcome to January, a month that will see the Kelowna Rockets play 11 games in 24 nights. The Rockets host the Spokane Chiefs for the first time this season. The Chiefs are the only U.S Division team not to have played a game this season at Prospera Place. These two teams met back on December 2nd, in Spokane, with the Chiefs earning a 2-1 overtime win. These two teams close out the seasonal series with games February 17th (Kelowna) and February 26th (Spokane). The Rockets are 8-2-2-1 in their last 13 games against the Chiefs dating back five seasons. The Rockets have held the lead heading into the third period 18 times this season. How about the Chiefs? Only eight times (8-0-0-0). The Rockets are coming off a 2-1 loss Friday night against the Victoria Royals. Nolan Foote scored the lone goal in the teams 7th loss on home ice this season.  Overall, the Rockets have won 4 of its last 6 games and have points in 5 of its last 7 games (4-2-1-0). The Rockets face the Kamloops Blazers in a home and home series this weekend.   

December’s Top Performers: The Kelowna Rockets played 13 games in December. The top offensive performer during the month was Kole Lind. Lind had 6+12=18 in December. Jake Kryski had 8+7=15 while Cal Foote had 1+12=13. Calvin Thurkauf and Jake Kryski led the team in goals during the month with 8 apiece. Kole Lind and Nolan Foote each had 6 goals apiece.

That’s a Fact Jack: Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf have both missed 7 games with the Kelowna Rockets while attending the World Junior’s. The Rockets are 4-2-1-0 without two of their top forwards…Dillon Dube is missing his 10th straight game tonight as he plays for Team Canada at the WJHCThe Rockets have scored 5 goals in their last three games. Of those 5 goals scored, four have come on the power play with only one even strength goal…The Rockets power play is 4 for 17 (24%) in its last three games... The Rockets are 12-4-2-0 in their last 18 games and have points in 12 of their last 15 (10-3-2-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game. Foote is one of only two players on the Rockets roster to play in every game this season. The other is Rodney Southam. Lind leads the team in scoring. The Top Prospects game will be played in Quebec City.

Broadcasters Bits: Calvin Thurkauf captained team Switzerland at the World Junior’s…Rookie Erik Gardiner has 1+5=6 in 7 games with the Rockets since making his debut with the team in Medicine Hat before the Christmas break…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four games and was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …The Rockets were 8-3-2-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 6-8-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets are 23-14-2-0 after 39 games. Last season the team was 27-10-2-0 after 39 games….Michael Herringer has started in 17 of the last 23 games and 23 of the last 30…The Rockets are 8-0-1-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets are the most penalized team in the WHL and have a league high 25 fighting majors…Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) and Calvin Thurkauf (Switzerland) have returned to the team after competing at the  World Junior Hockey Championships in Montreal/Toronto. Both will play this weekend against the Kamloops Blazers.…Dillon Dube is the 15th player in Kelowna Rockets franchise history to make Canada’s world junior team…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 on Monday…Jordan Borstmayer (Jan 9th), Riley Stadel (Jan 16th) and Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also have birthdays in January….Jake Kryski is 6 points shy of 100 for his career…James Hilsendager is playing in career game #149 tonight vs. Spokane.

Who’s Hot? Lucas Johansen has a 5 game point streak (0+6=6)…Nolan Foote has goals in three straight games …Cal Foote has points in 7 of his last 12 games (1+12=13)….Jake Kryski has 6+5=11 in the last 9 games and 8+7=15 in his last 12 games…Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four gamesTomas Soustal has points in 12 of his last 15 games. The 19 year-old has goals in 10 of his last 18 games and has 10+15=25 over that period… Kole Lind has points in 24 of his last 28 games (16+24=40)…Lind has goals in 11 of his last 17 games.…Nick Merkley has points in 17 of his last 25 games (9+16=25).


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Saturday, December 31, 2016

BC Division battle

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • After two emotional wins earlier this week against the first place Prince George Cougars, you would think the Victoria Royals were in the perfect position Friday night for an emotional letdown. Unfortunately for the Kelowna Rockets and the 59 hundred patrons at Prospera Place, that didn't happen. The Royals dominated the opening period and were clearly the more physical team in a 2-1 win. The Royals set the tone earlier, physically, that if the Rockets wanted to win the game they would have to pay the price by getting to what the coaches call 'the dirty areas'. As a collective group, that didn't happen. The loss enabled the Royals to move within four points of the Rockets and Blazers for second place in the BC Division, while the first place Cougars have an 8 point cushion for first place after beating the Everett Silvertips 4-3.
  • While Royals goaltender Griffin Outhouse was solid and was named the second star, the 18 year-old had a relatively easy night. The Rockets had no where near the quality looks they had Wednesday in a 5-1 loss in Kamloops. The power play, despite scoring the lone goal, had a rough night. It looked fractured all night and it didn't look scary, even when the home team was awarded a second period 5 on 3. It was a rough night for the top six forwards, with no one player really standing out. The same could be said for the Royals top forwards, who were just OK in the one goal win.  
  • The Rockets five game home ice winning streak was snapped last night. The loss was the teams 7th at Prospera Place. Last season the team was defeated 6 times in front of the home town crowd.
  • Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry says his team is trying to fly under the radar in the BC Division. "I hope everybody keeps talking about it being a three horse race for first place (Prince George/Kelowna/Kamloops). We are going to go quietly about our business". 
  • The Rockets are now 2-2-0-0 in the seasonal series against the Royals heading into back-to-back games on the Island January 11th and 13th.
  • The Rockets have lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since October 4th and 15th when they lost 4-2 to Saskatoon and then 5-1 to the Swift Current Broncos.
  • In the three games after the Christmas break, the team has scored only five goals. Of those five goals, four have been on the power play. 
  • The Rockets host Spokane Wednesday night before playing four consecutive games against BC Division based teams. The Rockets have a home and home series next weekend against Kamloops before back-to-back against the Royals.  
  • Earlier in the day it was learned that 19 year-old forward Calvin Thurkauf had signed a three year entry level deal with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Rockets game notes vs. Royals

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play their final game of 2016 when they welcome the Victoria Royals to Prospera Place. This is the 4th meeting of the season between these two teams. The Rockets are 2-1-0-0, having beaten their BC Division rivals by scores of 5-1 and 6-4. In the last meeting, November 22nd, the Royals were a 6-2 winner. The Rockets visit the Royals for back-to-back games on January 11th and 13th. How closely are these two teams matched? In the last five seasons, the Rockets are 13-12-1-1 against Dave Lowry’s boys. The Rockets are coming off a 5-1 loss Wednesday night in Kamloops. Dylan Ferguson stole the game for the Blazers, making 46 saves. Nolan Foote scored the lone goal in the teams’ 13th setback of the season. Brodan Salmond took the loss in goal. Overall, the Rockets have won 4 of its last 5 games and have points in 5 of its last 6 games (4-1-1-0).

That’s a fact Jack: At this point last season, Michael Herringer had appeared in just 14 games. This season he has played in 28 games…Fifteen different players have scored game winning goals for the Rockets this season….The team has scored 130 goals this season after 38 games. Last season, at this same point, the Rockets found the back of the net 139 times…The team has allowed 11 more goals at this point of the season than at the 38 game mark in 2015-2016….The Rockets have two out-right regulation losses in their last 10 road games. The team is 6-2-2-0 over that stretch…Four of the next 7 games will be played on the road. With back-to-back road games in Victoria (Jan 11th/13th), the team visits the Everett Silvertips for the first time this season on January 16th…The Rockets have allowed 10 goals against in their last 5 games…These two teams (Rockets/Royals) are a combined 32-0-1-0 when leading after 40 minutes…The Rockets are 12-3-2-0 in their last 17 games and have points in 12 of their last 14 (10-2-2-0).

Top Prospects: Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game. Foote is one of only two players on the Rockets roster to play in every game this season. The other is Rodney Southam. Lind leads the team in scoring. The Top Prospects game will be played in Quebec City.

Broadcasters Bits: Nick Merkley had two assists Tuesday to give him 150 for his WHL…15 year-old rookie defenceman Kaedan Korczak made his WHL debut Tuesday night vs. the Blazers. Korczak is the Rockets 1st round bantam pick from MayCalvin Thurkauf is the captain for team Switzerland at the World Junior’s…Rookie Erik Gardiner has 1+5=6 in six games with the Rockets since making his debut with the team in Medicine Hat before the Christmas break…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four games and Monday was named the WHL Player of the Week for his antics…The Rockets are 8-2-2-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 6-8-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets are 23-13-2-0 after 38 games. Last season the team was 27-9-2-0 after 38 games….Michael Herringer has started in 16 of the last 22 games and 22 of the last 29…The Rockets are 8-0-1-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in 17 of the last 27 games while being tied three times over that period…The Rockets are the most penalized team in the WHL and have a league high 25 fighting majors…Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) and Calvin Thurkauf (Switzerland) are playing for their respective countries at the  World Junior Hockey Championships in Montreal/Toronto.…Dillon Dube became the 15th player in Kelowna Rockets franchise history to make Canada’s world junior team…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens (Jan 2nd), Jordan Borstmayer (Jan 9th), Riley Stadel (Jan 16th), Michael Herringer (Jan 26th).

Who’s Hot? Lucas Johansen has a 4 game point streak (0+5=5)…Nolan Foote has goals in back-to-back games…Cal Foote has points in 7 of his last 11 games (1+12=13)….Jake Kryski has 6+5=11 in the last 8 games and 8+7=15 in his last 11 games..Kryski had 6+5=11 (1 shootout game winning goal) on this just completed road trip…Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four gamesTomas Soustal has points in 12 of his last 15 games. The 19 year-old has goals in 10 of his last 18 games and has 10+15=25 over that period… Kole Lind has points in 23 of his last 27 games (16+23=39)…Lind has goals in 11 of his last 16 games.…Nick Merkley has points in 17 of his last 24 games (9+16=25).


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rockets defeated by red hot goalie

Dylan Ferguson -Shoot the Breeze Photography 
  • It was suggested that the Kamloops Blazers were in a heap of trouble when starting goaltender Connor Ingram was named to Canada's roster for the World Junior Hockey Championships. With Ingram out of the line-up for no less than 10 games, the Blazers would fall flat on their faces by being forces to use back-up Dylan Ferguson. The 18 year-old had other ideas. Ferguson was the second star Tuesday night in a 3-2 loss to the Kelowna Rockets and then made 46 saves Wednesday in a 5-1 win. Had it not been for Ferguson's stellar play, specifically in Wednesday's rematch, the Rockets would have extended their winning streak to five games. Instead, the Blazers moved within two points of the Rockets for second place in the BC Division with 34 games left to be played for both teams. 
  • Ferguson's best save came on a point blank chance when Rockets leading scorer Kole Lind found himself one-on-one with the Blazers goalie. With the home team leading 2-1, Lind lifted the puck up in an effort to fire it into the corner of the net. Ferguson flared out his glove to make a huge stop, denying the Rockets leading scorer of his 21st goal of the season. Shortly after that glorious chance, Jake Kryski also had a pin-point opportunity but appeared to miss the net. The Blazers would score on that same sequence when Jermaine Loewen went wide on Rockets defenceman Lucas Johansen and tucked the puck past goaltender Brodan Salmond to make the score 3-1.  In my opinion, that was the TSN turning point. Had either Lind or Kryski scored, the Blazers would have been in a heap of trouble.
  • It was just one of those nights in the offensive zone. The Rockets created 18 scoring chances which is a fairly high number. Only rookie forward Nolan Foote was able to find the back of the net with a sweet wrister on the power play that tied the score at 1. Foote now has 9 goals this season and arguably has one, if not the best release on the team. Nolan's older brother Cal was a workhorse on the blue line over the last two night's and logged major minutes. Cal seemed to play with more bite in both games and used his strength and body to punish opposing forwards. I thought he was terrific in both. Cal makes the fewest mistakes of any of the blueliners, has a booming shot and his body positioning is excellent. If he can play meaner, like he did in back-to-back games, I can't see why he won't be considered a top 10 NHL pick.
  • I still think the Rockets take too many penalties, specifically at Sandman Centre. While it has only been two visits this season, players like Jake Kryski can't be going to the penalty box three times a game. Kryski isn't a physical player, and if it isn't a physical penalty, one stick foul per game, minimum, is acceptable. The fact is, the Blazers have had 16 power play chances in two games against the Rockets at Sandman Centre. That number should be cut in half, especially against a Blazers team that isn't that physical either. The best stick foul of the game came from Blazers forward Luc Smith when he had no choice but to hook Nolan Foote. With Ferguson out of position, the puck was in Foote's wheel house but he couldn't get a shot off because Smith, who was making his Blazers debut, was hooking him. 
  • Despite the loss, the Rockets didn't lose any ground on the first place Prince George Cougars. The Rockets remain six points back of the BC Division leaders, who lost back-to-back games in Victoria. 
  • It is official. Seventeen year-old Erik Gardiner will remain with the team for the remainder of the season. Gardiner, who started the season with the SJHL's Humboldt Broncos, has 6 points in 6 games with the Rockets (1+5=6) and has points in 4 of the 6 games he has played.
  • Both teams were again playing short staffed. The Rockets welcomed Lucas Johansen back to the line-up after missing Tuesday's game with illness. In saying that, nine regulars (combined) were missing for both teams. With these two teams almost destined to meet in the playoffs, when every player is available, it should make for some excellent hockey.  
  • Lucas Johansen has a modest 4 game point streak going. The 19 year-old has 0+5=5 over that stretch.
  • Nolan Foote missed the first 6 games of the regular season while he recovered from mono. Can you image what his goal total would be had he played in those games? Foote has 9 goals in just 26 games this season, which including missing an addition 6 games while playing at the Under 17's in November.    
  • Up next? A date with the Victoria Royals on Friday. The Rockets are 2-1-0-0 against the Royals after 6-4 and 5-1 wins. Combined, these two teams are 32-0-1-0 when leading after 40 minutes. Let's just say, having the lead going into the third period will be pivotal.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fatigued but with a faint smile


  • Unbelievable. No, I am not talking about the fact I was able to wear only two different dress shirts over a span of 10 days on the Kelowna Rockets epic pre-Christmas road trip, it is the fact the team preformed without three of their top forwards, on one occasion four of their top forwards, and managed to pick up 5 wins, one loss in regulation time and suffered a single loss in overtime. The team generated 11 out of possible 14 points on a trip that had them, at one point, playing 5 games in 7 nights. The team didn't miss a beat. Honestly, they could have won all seven games had it not been for some average goaltending in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. The Rockets were in every game they played and the team passed the character test with flying colours.
  • Where do we start when it comes to the success of the team on the road trip? Look no further to the bottom six forwards who made a significant contribution offensively. Riley Stadel, Leif Mattson, Jack Cowell, newcomer Erik Gardiner and defensive defenceman Brayden Chizen were examples of players that found their name on the score-sheet when they traditionally play a secondary role. Not on this road trip though. Head Coach Jason Smith had to play four line hockey, for the most part, in an effort to keep the teams head above water with the schedule that looked daunting when it came out this summer. Is the road schedule as tough when you experience it first hand? Harder! The only saving grace is, in sports, winning heels all wounds and it lightens the mood despite the long hours on the bus and the shortage of sleep. 
  • If one player benefited more greatly from the absence of the teams top forwards on this road trip it was Jake Kryski. The 18 year-old was given a chance to be a top six forward at the start of the season but really never found his way into the hearts of the coaching staff with his play, Often inconsistent, Kryski knew this seven game road trip was a chance to get back into the good books. That is exactly what he did. Kryski scored six goals on the road swing, with another coming in the shootout (they don't count statistically) for the game winning goal against the Edmonton Oil Kings. Kryski now has 8 shootout goals to his credit in his career and has the ability to fool goaltenders with his quick hands.
  • Michael Herringer has been a workhorse for the team this season and fatigue possibly started to show. The 20 year-old struggled in games in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat and was pulled in both in favour of Brodan Salmond. That opened the door for Salmond to start consecutive games while earning his first career shutout in a 3-0 win in Red Deer. The great part of the story is Herringer did bounce back with a great effort Sunday in a 2-1 shootout win in Edmonton. Herringer made several terrific stops and looked more like himself in the one goal win. The Comox, BC resident was money in the shootout stopping all three shooters he faced, including flaring out his right pad to stone Oil Kings forward Lane Bauer. Herringer is now 11 for 11 in shootout situations in his career.
  • Did Kole Lind do enough to solidify himself as the WHL Player of the Week? Lind had a terrific road trip, but had his 13 game point streak snapped against the Oil Kings Sunday night. Lind had 4 goals and 10 assists for 14 points on the 7 game road trip. Lind has 46 points in 35 games this season and is on pace for a 90+ point season. 
  • The Rockets have now played a Western Conference high 21 road games. Only Saskatoon has played more in the WHL with 22 games away from their own arena. 
  • Erik Gardiner auditions for the team with four games during the road swing. It would be safe to say the 17 year-old impressed. While collecting 1+3=4 in those four games, Gardiner's play away from the puck was equally impressive. The coaching staff used him on the power play and the penalty killing unit and he didn't look out of place in both of those areas. Will Gardiner be invited back for the second half of the season or return to the SJHL's Humboldt Broncos? My bet is, if they can make room for him, Gardiner will be making his home debut with the Rockets on December 27th. 
  • The second half of the season begins December 27th against the visiting Kamloops Blazers. This will be the fourth of eight meetings between these two teams that are separated by only two points in the standings. Of the nine games after the Christmas break, seven of them will be against BC Division teams, including back-to-back games in Victoria in early January.     
  • At the half way point of the season, the Rockets are in the mix in the Western Conference. Could they make their 4th straight appearance in the WCF? Prince George and Everett are the clear favourites and have been consistent all season long. Both have few holes in their game. But with six games left before the WHL trade deadline, you would think a trade for a quality forward would give them an even greater shot of challenging the Cougars, Tips and even the Blazers in the fight for first place in the conference. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rockets game notes vs. Rebels

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play game five of a seven game road trip tonight with a stop in
Red Deer for a game against the Rebels. These two teams met back on October 8th with the Rebels earning a 5-0 win. The trip started last Friday in Tri City with a 3-2 overtime win. The Rockets bounced the Kootenay Ice Saturday night (7-3) before losing a heartbreaker to the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sunday (6-5). The team then concluded five games in seven nights with an 8-7 overtime loss Tuesday in Medicine Hat. While the Rockets are 4-0-0-0 in the last five seasons against the Rebels in Kelowna, they are just 2-2-0-0 over that period at the Enmax Centrium.

Rockets Review: Tuesday night, Jake Kryski (2+2=4) and Kole Lind (1+3=4) each had four point outings in an 8-7 overtime loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers. In the 15 goal game, the Tigers opened a 4-1 second period lead before the Rockets rallied to tie the score at four heading into the third period. The Tigers would again score back-to-back goals to take a 6-4 lead before the Rockets would again tie it. Leif Mattson, Cal Foote, Kyle Topping and Braydyn Chizen also scored, with the power play finding the back of the net on 2 of 5 chances. Michael Herringer started the game and was pulled after surrendering 6 goals on 21 shots. Brodan Salmond came in relief and allowed two goals on 14 shots.   

Road Rash: The road trip the team is currently on features 7 games in 10 nights with stops in Tri City (3-2 OTW), Kootenay (7-3 W), Lethbridge (6-5 L), Medicine Hat (8-7 OTL), Red Deer (Tonight), Calgary (Saturday Dec 17) and Edmonton (Sunday Dec 18th). Overall, the Rockets are 8-2-2-0 in their last 12 games and have points in 7 of their last 8 (6-1-2-0).

Top Prospects: Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game. Foote is one of only two players on the Rockets roster to play in every game this season. The other is Rodney Southam. Lind leads the team in scoring. The Top Prospects game will be played in Quebec City. NHL Central Scouting has released its November ‘Players to Watch’ list. Defenceman Cal Foote is an ‘A’ prospect for next June’s draft. Kole Lind is a ‘B’ prospect. The NHL draft is in Chicago.

Broadcasters Bits: Nick Merkley returns the lineup tonight after being released from Hockey Canada’s main camp on Tuesday….Erik Gardner made his Kelowna Rockets debut Tuesday night vs. the Medicine Hat Tigers. Gardner, acquired from Regina, laced up the skates for the first time in the WHL after playing the majority of this season in the SJHL with the Humboldt Broncos…Sixteen year-old rookie Liam Kindree also played Tuesday night with the team having 6 regulars out of the lineup. Kindree was playing his second WHL game after suiting up with the team in Vancouver/Langley earlier this season. Kindree is leading the BC Major Midget League in scoring….Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four games and Monday was named the WHL Player of the Week for his antics…The Rockets are 4-1-2-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 5-7-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets are 19-12-2-0 after 33 games. Last season the team was 25-7-1-0 after 33 games….Michael Herringer has started in 14 of the last 17 games and 20 of the last 24…The Rockets are 8-0-1-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in 14 of the last 23 games while being tied twice over that period…The Rockets are the most penalized team in the WHL…Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) and Calvin Thurkauf (Switzerland) are playing for their respective countries at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships in Montreal/Toronto.…Dillon Dube is attend Hockey Canada’s main camp vying for one of 22 spots on this year’s roster….The only December birthday is Cal Foote. Foote turned 18 on Tuesday.  

Who’s Hot? Jake Kryski has 4+4=8 in last three games and 6+6=12 in his last 6 games…Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four games…James Hilsandager has a goal and three assists in his last five  gamesTomas Soustal has points in 12 of his last 15 games. The 19 year-old has goals in 10 of his last 18 games and has 10+15=25 over that period… Kole Lind has points in 20 of his last 22 games (14+20=34)…Lind has goals in 9 of his last 11 games and is riding an 11 game point streak. Lind has 9+10=19 over that stretch…Nick Merkley has points in 14 of his last 19 games (8+13=21).


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Monday, December 12, 2016

Rockets game notes vs.Tigers

 Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play game four of a seven game road trip tonight with a stop in
Medicine Hat where they face the Tigers. These two teams last met back on November 5th, at Prospera Place, with the Tigers earning a 6-2 win. Chad Butcher had 2+1=3 in the win while out-shooting the Rockets 40-25. The Rockets have had success in Medicine Hat over the years. The Rockets have not lost in regulation time here since 2010. It was December 14, 2010 when Tyler Bunz made 26 saves in the Tigers 2-0 win. Since then, the Rockets have earned a point in seven consecutive appearances and are 5-0-0-2 over that period. Last season, in their lone visit, the Rockets were a 6-5 winner (October 6/15). This is game four of a seven game road trip for the Rockets, who began the trip last Friday in Tri City with a 3-2 overtime win. The Rockets bounced the Kootenay Ice Saturday night, 7-3, before losing a heartbreaker to the Lethbridge Hurricanes Sunday night with a 6-5 setback.

Rockets Review: Calvin Thurkauf scored twice in a 6-5 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes Sunday night. Connor Bruggen-Cate (1st WHL goal), James Hilsandager (1st as a Rockets player) and Nolan Foote also scored in the teams’ 12th loss of the season. The Rockets led the game 4-3 before the Hurricanes would strike for three straight goals. The Rockets were 1 for 3 on the power play while surrendering two goals against on four penalty kills. The visitors fired 43 shots on the opposition net.

Road Rash: The road trip the team is currently on features 7 games in 10 nights with stops in Tri City (3-2 OTW), Kootenay (7-3 W), Lethbridge (6-5 L), Medicine Hat (Tonight), Red Deer (Fri Dec 16), Calgary (Sat Dec 17) and Edmonton (Sun Dec 18th). Overall, the Rockets are 8-2-1-0 in their last 11 games and have points in 6 of their last 7 (6-1-1-0). The team has won 4 of its last 5 games straight overall.   

Broadcasters Bits: Two players will make their WHL and Kelowna Rockets debuts tonight against the Tigers. Erik Gardiner, who is a 17 year-old forward playing with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos and 16 year-old Liam Kindree, who leads the BC Major Midget League in scoring, will be in the line-up. Gardiner was acquired from the Regina Pats along with James Hilsandager in the Jonathan Smart trade while Kindree is a 4th round bantam pick of the team from 2015The Rockets have also recalled 16 year-old forward Ted Brennan. Brennan, from Victoria, has played four games with the team this season (0+1=1) and is a third round bantam pick from 2015…Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four games and Monday was named the WHL Player of the Week for his antics…The Rockets have allowed, on average, just 27 shots on goal in their last 7 games…The Rockets are 4-1-1-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 5-7-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets are 19-12-1-0 after 32 games. Last season the team was 24-7-1-0 after 32 games….Michael Herringer has started in 13 of the last 16 games and 19 of the last 23…The Rockets are 8-0-1-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in 14 of the last 22 games …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99…The Rockets are the most penalized team in the WHL…Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) and Calvin Thurkauf (Switzerland) are playing for their respective countries at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships in Montreal/Toronto.…Nick Merkley and Dillon Dube are attend Hockey Canada’s main camp vying for one of 22 spots on this year’s roster. Team Canada’s main camp runs until December 14th in Blainville, Quebec. Merkley was a late cut last year…The only December birthday is Cal Foote. Foote turns 18 today!!

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

Who’s Hot? Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four games…James Hilsandager has a goal and two assists in his last four  gamesTomas Soustal has points in 12 of his last 15 games. The 19 year-old has goals in 10 of his last 18 games and has 10+15=25 over that period… Kole Lind has points in 19 of his last 21 games (13+17=29)…Lind has goals in 8 of his last 10 games and is riding a 10 game point streak. Lind has 8+7=15 over that stretch…Nick Merkley has points in 14 of his last 19 games (8+13=21).


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150