Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reddick's antics a key in Americans win

  • Tri City Americans forward Kruise Reddick ended the Kelowna Rockets season last April with an overtime game winning goal in game five. Wednesday night at Prospera Place, the now 20 year-old played a prominent role, again, in deflating the Rockets tires in another one goal loss. Instead of scoring, Reddick started a skirmish late in the second period that would eventually get his team back in the game. Reddick body checked Rockets forward Mitchell Callahan into the boards in what appeared to be a check from behind. Instead of referee Andy Thiessen making a call, he let the infraction go, resulting in a scrum which saw Rockets defenseman Colton Jobke square off with Reddick while Max Adolph danced with Americans forward Jordan Messier. While those four were fighting, 10 minute misconducts were also handed out to several players. When the dust had settled, the Rockets found themselves playing shorthanded as the visitors were granted a two minute power play. With the Rockets holding a slim 3-2 lead after 40 minutes, the Americans gained momentum off the man advantage, eventually scoring two goals in a 1:58 span for a 4-3 come-from-behind win. As luck would have it, Reddick would draw an assist on the game winning goal when 16 year-old rookie Connor Rankin finished off a nice pass from the Americans team captain.
  • The Rockets received a solid effort from two veteran players. Mitchell Callahan didn't score a goal or pick up an assist, but he was his feisty old self. Goaltender Adam Brown had a nice bounce back game with some huge saves, including a dandy in the second and a couple of beauties in the third.
  • Brett Bulmer scored for a second straight game while rookie Zach Franko earned an assist to extend his point streak to a modest two games.
  • The nicest Rockets' goal came when rookie Colton Sissons picked off a bad Americans clearing attempt, thread the needle on a perfect pass to Evan Bloodoff, who rifled a shot on a one timer into the back of the net. It was Sissons first career WHL point.
  • After being a healthy scratch Saturday, d-man Antoine Corbin responded with a two point effort. Corbin's power play goal came on a scramble at the side of the Americans net while the Rockets were enjoying a 5 on 3. The Americans complained that Thiessen had a slow whistle on the play, and they had a case. With no whistle being blown, the Rockets kept chipping away at the puck before Corbin finally got it past Tri City goalie Drew Owsley.
  • As mentioned, the Americans seem to find their game following an early third period power play. Brendan Shinnimin and Brooks Macek came alive with some dazzling puck movement and pin point passing. When those two players are given room to maneuver, they are lethal.
  • The Rockets played this game without defenseman Tyson Barrie and Shane McColgan. The two top scorers from last season won't play in Friday's rematch.
  • The win improved the Americans record to 3 and 0 while the Rockets are 0 and 2.
  • Despite some empty seats at Wednesday's game, the paid attendance was 6 thousand and 26.
  • Did you notice the odd looking box inside the one net defended by Americans goaltender Drew Owsley in the first and third periods? A camera was set inside that box which will undoubtedly produce some great shots. Can't wait to see those posted on the Rockets website in the near future.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Game notes vs. Americans

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face a familiar opponent when they face-off against the Tri City Americans tonight. These two teams met in last season’s second round of the WHL playoffs, with the Americans winning in five games. In fact, these two teams also met in the 2009 playoffs with the Rockets winning in six games in the Western Conference semi finals. They again met in the 2004 post season, with the Rockets winning in six games. Tonight’s meeting is the first of four games between the two teams this season and first of two games in the next three nights. The Rockets are in Kennewick Friday night. Last season these two teams met four times, with the Americans winning all four games. Overall the Rockets were out-scored 20-5.

Tamed by Tri City: Outside of the post season, the Rockets have had little success against the Americans over the years. Tri City is 16-4-0-0 in the last five seasons in 20 meetings between the two teams. The lack of success is especially evident at the Toyota Center, where the Rockets have lost six straight road games. The last regular season win for the Rockets in Kennewick was February 25/2006 in a 4-3 victory. Justin Keller scored twice in the win. The game featured eight players that have now played at least one game in the NHL, including Americans goaltender Carey Price.

Opening Night Jitters: The Rockets opened the 2010-2011 regular season Saturday night with a 6-2 loss to the Prince George Cougars. Brett Bulmer and Zach Franko scored for the Rockets in a losing cause, before a crowd of 6,178. Adam Brown took the loss in goal, allowing six goals on 34 shots. Rookie Jordan Cooke made a brief appearance in relief, making five stops. The Rockets were 1 for 4 on the power play.

This and That: The Kelowna Rockets are wearing pink jerseys, pink skate laces and pink hockey tape on their sticks tonight in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Fans are also asked to wear pink to the game and place bids on the jerseys the players are wearing which will be auctioned off after the game. All the proceeds will go towards the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation….The Rockets lost to the Americans in five games in last season’s second round playoff series. Three of the five games were decided by a single goal. The Rockets only win of the series was in game two in Kennewick in a 3-2 victory. Tri City wrapped up the series with a 4-3 win in overtime in game five. The Rockets had a 3-1 lead with just over 8 minutes left in the third period before the Americans stormed back to win it. Kruise Reddick scored the game winner in extra time….Defenceman Kevin Smith earned his first career point in a Rockets uniform with an assist on Brett Bulmer’s power play goal in the first period Saturday night…..Zach Franko earned his first career goal in Saturday’s loss. Franko scored 24 goals with the Winnipeg South Blues (MJHL) last season….. The Rockets franchise is playing its 1370th regular season game tonight. The team has 697 regular season wins….The Rockets return six of their top seven point getters from last season. They include Tyson Barrie, Shane McColgan, Mitchell Callahan, Brett Bulmer, Geordie Wudrick and Cody Chikie….The Rockets were 35-31-0-6 last season and beat the Everett Silvertips in seven games in the opening round…Rockets head coach Ryan Huska is a member of the coaching staff for this years entry at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Defenseman Tyson Barrie attended Team Canada’s summer camp…Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton was inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton in July…Ryan Huska is coaching in his 218th career game tonight. Huska has 120 victories as a head coach with the hockey club…The Rockets were 5 and 1 during the pre-season with two wins over Vancouver and Chilliwack before splitting a pair of games with Kamloops. Jason Seibert, Max Adolph, Zach Franko and Colton Sissons tied for the goal scoring lead with three each…The Rockets re-assigned 16 year-old forward Colton Heffley to the Swift Current Midget Legionarries on Monday….Rookie defenceman Damon Severson is the youngest player on the Rockets roster this season. Severson turned 16 on August 7th. D-man Brendon Wall is the oldest, having turned 20 on February 26th. ..Last season the Rockets didn’t win their first game of the season until beating Kamloops 5-0 in game number four. Up to that point, the Rockets were 0-2-1-0.

Who’s Back: The Rockets are led by last seasons MVP Tyson Barrie. Barrie, the league’s top defenseman, was also the teams leading scorer last season. Barrie is joined by veteran 20 year-old forward Geordie Wudrick and Evan Bloodoff. Adam Brown, now 19, is the starting goaltender. Brown was the #1 goaltender at the start of last season while overager Mark Guggenberger was recovering from a sports hernia. Western Conference rookie of the year nominee Shane McColgan also returns this season.

Rockets wear pink for a good cause

The Kelowna Rockets will be wearing pink tomorrow night when they host the Tri City Americans.
Why?
The Rockets will be wearing pink jerseys, pink skate laces and pink hockey tape on their sticks in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
Fans are also asked to wear pink to the game and place bids on the jerseys the players are wearing, which will be auctioned off after the game.
All the proceeds will go towards the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rockets reduce roster

ROCKETS ASSIGN HEFFLEY TO MIDGET TEAM

The Kelowna Rockets announce that the WHL club has reassigned forward Colton Heffley to the Swift Current Legionnaires in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA League.

"Colton did very well here, he got better every weekend," said Rockets assistant general manager Lorne Frey. "In saying that we didn't think there was going to be enough playing time here this year. He's going to go back and get lots of ice time in midget AAA and play in all situations."

Heffley played in all six Kelowna Rockets exhibition games this season collecting one assist.

The Rockets are now carrying 25 players heading into Wednesday night's game against Tri-City at Prospera Place in Kelowna.

Things that make me go hmm....

  • What is Prince George Cougars forward Brett Connolly's attitude coming back to junior? I asked him that question Saturday night. "I want to be a leader. I want to help the young guys we have here. I want to get this team into the playoffs. I think we have the guys and the character to do it. I think if we have everybody on the same page, its (playoffs) doable."
  • Now that Connolly is back in Prince George, lets hope hockey fans in Prince George get off their wallets and come out to watch this dynamo. Not only is he a tremendous player, but he's a hometown boy. If that isn't enough to draw fans to the arena, I don't know what is? Ok, winning doesn't hurt either.
  • Prior to Zach Franko scoring a goal Saturday night, who was the last 17 year-old Kelowna Rockets forward to score a goal in his first WHL game? Justin Keller also scored in his 17 year-old season, in his first career game on his first shot on goal. Keller would score 51 goals two seasons later.
  • Kyle St. Denis scored in his first career game as a 16 year-old against the Prince George Cougars January 12/2007. Tyson Barrie scored a goal in the first game of the 2007-2008 season when he was just 16, but it was his 5th career WHL game. Barrie played seven games as an underage 15 year-old a season earlier.
  • How many players have worn sweater #7 since Josh Gorges wore it as captain of the Rockets' during the Memorial Cup championship season of 2004? Only three players have worn that number since. They are Colin Joe, Aaron Borejko and 16 year-old Damon Severson
  • In case you were wondering, Ryan Howse of the Chilliwack Bruins is on pace to score 175 goals this season. Now do I have to explain why I picked the Bruins to finish first in the BC Division?
  • A funny comment from the lips of colour analyst Gord McGarva following Saturday's loss to the Cougars. "It looked like a Saturday night at the Eldorado.....it was all Cougars".
  • Prince George Cougars broadcaster Andy Neal had an interesting weekend. In his first official game Friday night in Kamloops as a play-by-play broadcaster of the Cougars, he was forced to do the game on a cell phone. His broadcast gear wasn't working, so the cell phone was put into action. I wonder what that bill will look like? No matter how much advertising the radio station sold on that night, it was a losing proposition. The only good thing about what happened to Neal was it will provide for a laughable story for years to come.
  • Just a reminder that our post game show on AM 1150 will take place in Manhattan Restaurant only on weekends this season. During the week, we will be doing the entire post game show from the broadcast booth, with Gord McGarva going down to the Rockets dressing room for player reaction. Why the change? After nine seasons it was time to switch it up. Only a handful of fans attend the post game show at Manhattan Restaurant during week day games, so it only makes sense to stay up in the broadcast both and do our business there.
  • Did you happen to notice that Stepan Novotny has been named an assistant captain with the Swift Current Broncos while Collin Bowman, another former Rocket, is wearing an 'A' with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
  • Give the Red Deer Rebels high 5's for the show they put on prior to the start of their home opener. Pyrotechnics were used to provide fans with a mini version of fireworks indoors. The Rebels didn't cut corners with that on-ice presentation. Impressive to say the least.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Winning 1st game of the season isn't easy

Surprised that the Rockets lost their opening game of the season Saturday night to the Cougars? Don't be.
The Rockets are 2-4-2 and a tie in their last nine season opening games dating back to the start of the 2002-2003 season.

Here's the breakdown:

2010: 6-2 loss to PG
2009: 6-5 OTL to Giants
2008: 5-4 W Blazers
2007: 6-5 OTL to Americans
2006: 3-1 L to Americans
2005: 3-2 SOW vs. Giants
2004: 4-2 L to Tips
2003: 2-2 T T-Birds
2002: 3-2 L to Hawks

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brett Connolly's heroics not required

  • The Prince George Cougars didn't need their top player to play a pivotal role in Saturday's 6-2 win in Kelowna. Sure, Brett Connolly scored a goal, but the Cougars marquee player wasn't needed thanks to the play of veterans Nick Bounassisi, Parker Stanfield and Spencer Asuchak. The three combined for nine points in the lopsided win.
  • The loss snapped a six game losing streak for the Cougars at Prospera Place. They were 0 and 4 last season and lost their previous two games in Kelowna during the 2008-2009 campaign. Prior to Saturday's win, the last time the Cougars picked up two points in Kelowna was January 10, 2009 in a 4-3 victory.
  • When was the last time the Rockets gave up six goals in a home opener? It was September 22, 2007 in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Tri City Americans.
  • Brett Bulmer and rookie Zach Franko scored for the Rockets, who generated little in the way of scoring chances in the third period. In fact, the Rockets managed just four shots in the final frame. It was not a good night for the veteran players, whether it was on defense or at forward.
  • Rockets captain Tyson Barrie started the game, but left after the opening period. His absence was clearly noticeable in the offensive zone, where as mentioned, little in the way of offense came from the veteran forwards.
  • Shane McColgan suited up for the game, but only for the pre-game ceremony. The 17 year-old was seen sitting in the stands as he recovers from having his tonsils removed.
  • It may have been a wake up call for defenseman Antoine Corbin who was a healthy scratch. After attending the training camp of the Dallas Stars, Corbin is sitting in the stands in favour of rookie sixteen year-old Damon Severson.
  • The best player for the Rockets may have been Severson. No question he has to improve in the defensive zone, but you can't teach a d-man that young to skate with the puck with that type of confidence. Either you have that calm, cool demeanor or you don't. Severson made two impressive rushes with the puck with one almost resulting in a goal
  • Sure, the Cougars scored two goals that could be described as lucky, but on this night they got what they deserved. Connolly gets a goal that goes off a Rockets defenseman and sails high over the head of goaltender Adam Brown to make the score 4-1. Then Asuchuk scores a third period goal that he appears to fan on, yet it slides past Brown.
  • Brown is pulled after the Cougars sixth goal, making way for 17 year-old rookie Jordan Cooke, who enjoys his first WHL action.
  • Before the game the Rockets have a moment of silence for former MLA Sindi Hawkins, who died of cancer this week.
  • Director of Officiating Kevin Muench was in the building Saturday night. Muench told me the WHL has six new referee's this season. In case you missed it, veteran official Chris Savage has decided to retire, so you won't see him on a WHL ice surface this season.

Rockets game notes vs Cougars

Tonight’s Preview: Welcome to the 2010-2011 regular season. The Rockets are celebrating their 20th anniversary this season in the Western Hockey League. The team was born in 1991 as an expansion franchise in Tacoma and played out of Washington State for 4 years before moving to Kelowna, where the team is enjoying its 16th season in the Okanagan. Tonight the Rockets host the Prince George Cougars in the first of 8 games between the two teams this season. The Cougars make a return visit November 2nd and November 12th before the Rockets head north for a pair of games in Prince George November 19th and 20th. The Rockets are meeting the Cougars five times in their first 23 regular season games.

Last season vs. Cougars: The Rockets were 7-1-0-0 in eight games against the Cougars last season. The Rockets were 4-0-0-0 at home and 3-1-0-0 in Prince George. Three of the eight games were decided by a single goal with the Rockets winning two of the games in a shootout.

Who’s Back: The Rockets are led by last seasons MVP Tyson Barrie. Barrie, the league’s top defenseman, was also the teams leading scorer last season. Barrie is joined by veteran 20 year-old forward Geordie Wudrick and Evan Bloodoff. Adam Brown, now 19, is the starting goaltender. Brown was the #1 goaltender at the start of last season while overager Mark Guggenberger was recovering from a sports hernia. Western Conference rookie of the year nominee Shane McColgan also returns this season.

Who’s Gone: The Rockets said goodbye to 20 year-olds Mark Guggenberger, Lucas Bloodoff and Dallas Jackson. Both Guggenberger and Bloodoff are playing Canadian college hockey while Jackson was released Tuesday after a tryout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Brandon McMillan will land in the Anaheim Ducks organization after signing a pro contract in May.

New Faces: Two 17 year-old rookies cracked the Rockets opening day roster. Zach Franko, the teams 2nd round pick in 2008, and Colton Sissons, acquired from Saskatoon in the Curt Gogol trade last season, have made the cut. Nineteen year-old European forward Andreas Stene is also a new addition up front. The Rockets also acquired 20 year-old defenseman Brendon Wall from Prince Albert and 19 year-old Kevin Smith from Moose Jaw in separate deals in August.

Recent Moves: On Tuesday the Rockets released 19 year-old Codey Ito and 18 year-old Sean Aschim. Ito made the team last year on a tryout while Aschim was acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders for a 6th round bantam pick. The Rockets also sent 16 year-old Tyrell Goulbourne back to Edmonton for another year of midget hockey.

This and That: The Rockets are starting the season with back-to-back games at home. The Rockets host Tri City Wednesday before visiting the Americans Friday night….Eight of the Rockets first 12 games of the regular season are on home ice….The Rockets franchise is playing its 1369th regular season game tonight. The team has 697 regular season wins….The Rockets return six of their top seven point getters from last season. They include Tyson Barrie, Shane McColgan, Mitchell Callahan, Brett Bulmer, Geordie Wudrick and Cody Chikie….The Rockets were 35-31-0-6 last season and beat the Everett Silvertips in seven games in the opening round. The Rockets would eventually fall to the Tri City Americans in five games in round two…Rockets head coach Ryan Huska is a member of the coaching staff for this years entry at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Defenseman Tyson Barrie attended Team Canada’s summer camp…Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton was inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton in July…Ryan Huska is coaching in his 217th career game tonight. Huska has 120 victories as a head coach with the hockey club…The Rockets were 5 and 1 during the pre-season with two wins over Vancouver and Chilliwack before splitting a pair of games with Kamloops. Jason Seibert, Max Adolph, Zach Franko and Colton Sissons tied for the goal scoring lead with three each…The Rockets named their captain for the 2010-2011 season. Tyson Barrie will wear the ‘C’ while Colton Jobke, Kevin Smith and Evan Bloodoff have been named assistant captains…Jobke signed an entry level contract with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Jobke, never drafted, attended the Wild’s rookie camp and was invited to main camp before earning the deal….Brett Bulmer was in the Minnesota Wild’s lineup Friday night in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Are You Ready?

video

Now we're 'Cooke'n

The battle of the backup's is over.
Seventeen year-old Jordan Cooke has beaten out 18 year-old Chase Martin for the backup goaltending duties with the Kelowna Rockets this season.
Cooke will backup veteran 19 year-old Adam Brown.
Brown will get the start tomorrow night when the Rockets host the Prince George Cougars.
Speaking of Prince George...the Cougars announced today that forward Brett Connolly is returning to the team from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Connolly, the Lightnings first round pick in this summers NHL draft, is a game time decision for tonight's game in Kamloops, but will play tomorrow night against the Rockets.

Marc Habscheid is going to love me

Why?
I picked the Chilliwack Bruins to finish first in the BC Division this season.
Last night on Dan Russell's SportsTalk, I picked Habscheid's Bruins to win the division for the first time in franchise history.
I picked the Rockets to finish second, Vancouver third, Kamloops fourth and Prince George fifth.
But before Bruins faithful get too excited that I took their team to win the divisional crown, I picked the Blazers to finish first last season and then they essentially blew up their team at the trade deadline.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rockets name captain


The Kelowna Rockets have named 19 year-old defenseman Tyson Barrie as captain.
Barrie's assistants are Colton Jobke, Evan Bloodoff and Kevin Smith.
Barrie is a great choice. Solid player no question, but Barrie is a class act. He's a pro. He interviews like a pro, prepares like a pro and carries himself like a pro.
An 'A' for Jobke. What does that say about the 18 year old?
A second year guy getting a letter just speaks to the character this player shows both on and off the ice.
Great choice.

Jobke signed by Wild

Colton Jobke of the Kelowna Rockets has signed an entry level contract with the Minnesota Wild.
The 18 year-old defenseman signed the deal after attending the Wild's rookie camp on a free agent tryout.
Jared Spurgeon, Tyler Spurgeon's younger brother, also signed an entry level deal with the Wild.
Spurgeon will remain in the Wild training camp at least until the next reduction date.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rockets GM wins award

Another big win for the President, G-M and owner of the Kelowna Rockets.
Bruce Hamilton will be honoured with the 2010 Business Leader of the Year Award at next month's Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award dinner.
Hamilton brought the WHL franchise to Kelowna from Washington State 15 years ago.
The Rockets have been one of the CHL’s most successful teams over the last decade. They've made 4 appearances at the Memorial Cup in the last 7 years.

The Rockets won the Memorial Cup in 2004.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rockets veterans released

The Kelowna Rockets announced this afternoon that 19 year-old Codey Ito and 18 year-old Sean Aschim have been released.

Ito made the team as an 18 year-old rookie last season on a tryout while Aschim was acquired last season from the Prince Albert Raiders for a 6th round bantam pick.

Both players became expendable with the emergence of 19 year-old forward Andreas Stene and 17 year-old rookies Colton Sissons and Zach Franko.

The Rockets also re-assigned Tyrell Goulbourne back to midget in Edmonton.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A better appreciation for Mitchell Chapman

We've all had encounters in life with someone and come away saying, "man, that guy is a jerk".
But every once in a while it's nice to come away from a conversation with someone you don't know very well and have a better appreciation for that individual.
That's what happened to me this morning after sitting down with Rockets defenseman Mitchell Chapman.
I don't profess to know Chapman well, and frankly when it comes down to it, I don't often speak much to rookies either on the bus or at the rink. Unless they are offensively gifted in their first season in the WHL, like Shane McColgan, the media - me included - often stay away and let them have their space.
My encounters with Chapman last season were brief at best , his first in the WHL.
After a Monday morning workout though, I sat down with Chapman and discussed his life away from the rink.
He was open and interesting to talk too. No cliches here.
Let's just say I have a greater appreciation for Mitchell Chapman - the person - then I did prior to our five minute conversation.
The details of that interview can be heard Saturday night on our opening season broadcast on AM 1150.

Bloodoff returns

Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney announced today that the Coyotes have reduced their training camp roster by five players.

The following players have been assigned to their respective junior clubs:

Evan Bloodoff Forward Kelowna WHL.

As per the Coyotes website.

Cally coming back to K-Town

The Detroit Red Wings announced this afternoon that Mitchell Callahan is returning to the Kelowna Rockets.
The move surprises me a little bit. I thought Callahan may play in an exhibition game, or in the worse case, the Wings red and white game.
I don't feel as bad for Callahan when I saw that Landon Ferraro was returned back to the Everett Silvertips too.
Ferraro is a second round pick, and was the Wings 1st pick two years ago.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Does Evan Bloodoff follow the same path as Colin Long?



  • At this time last year the Rockets had two concerns. Would Tyler Myers return to the team as a 19 year-old and would Colin Long be back as an overage player? Lightning won't strike twice this year, as 19 year-old defenceman Tyson Barrie is injured and won't play in the NHL this season. That said, 20 year-old Evan Bloodoff could impress the Coyotes to the point that they offer him a contract and put him in the minors in San Antonio, which is what they did with Long one year ago.

  • At this time last year we were already two games into the regular season. Not only were the Rockets 0-1-0-1 in their first two regular season games, but they iced a team minus some of their best players. The early start had several players participating at NHL training camps which meant they, and others across the league, were not icing the best team possible. Instead they had young players chewing up big minutes when they were ill prepared to do so. The end result was sloppy play for both teams involved. Had the league not started a week later this season the Rockets would have been minus Tyson Barrie, Shane McColgan, Brett Bulmer, Colton Jobke, Mitchell Callahan and Evan Bloodoff . Now with the regular season starting a week later, only Barrie should be missing when the team opens the season at home Saturday night against Prince George. A later start was the right choice.

  • It has become a regular occurrence on Dan Russell's Sportstalk program and this season is no exception. Be listening Thursday as the five radio broadcasters in the BC Division join Dan for a preview of what we expect from our teams this season. The program will likely air in the 10 or 11 o'clock hour Thursday night. You can hear Dan Russell's show on AM 1150, seven days a week from 9 until midnight. Of the five BC Division broadcasters, only Randy Merkley (Chilliwack) and myself are returning. Jon Keen (Kamloops), Andy Neil (Prince George) and Dan Elliot (Vancouver) are all new in the broadcast booth.

  • I always think of the parents at this time of the year as they see their 16 year-old son's moving on to major junior hockey. For many it's the first time away from home. They are in good hands in Kelowna, no question, but having your son playing 19 hundred kilometers from home is still tough. Who is 19 hundred kilometers from home? Rookie forward Zach Franko and his family from Winnipeg, Manitoba are obviously finding life difficult right now.

  • In case you were wondering, last season the Rockets were 2 and 3 during the pre-season.

  • Did you notice Geordie Wudrick wearing sweater #12 during Saturday's pre-season game? Wudrick wore #11 last season and had sweater #18 with the Swift Current Broncos. Will the 20 year-old be changing his digits this season?

  • What veteran player has yet to record a point with the Kelowna Rockets? Forward Sean Achim has yet to record a point in 21 games in a Rockets uniform.

  • Last week the Rockets organization was holding tryouts for anthem singers. Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer a human singing the national anthem by picking up a microphone and physically standing on the ice over a pre-recorded anthem being piped in over the loud speakers.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rockets 4 Bruins 1 Final

  • If you followed me on twitter, you would know the score far ahead of this posting. The Kelowna Rockets closed out the exhibition schedule Saturday night with a 4-1 win over the Chilliwack Bruins. Cody Chikie, Antoine Corbin, Geordie Wudrick and Spencer Main scored for the Rockets, who finish the pre-season with a record of 5 and 1.
  • Rockets veteran goaltender Adam Brown went the distance in goal and made a sensational glove hand save off of Chilliwack forward Chris Collins in the third period to earn the win. Brown's backup was Chase Martin.
  • Veterans Codey Ito and Tyler Matheson did not play. Both sat out with injuries.
  • This game was one last chance for everyone to catch the eye of the coaching staff before the team trims the roster. The knife will have to come out this week to cut away the fat, with the expected return of veterans Brett Bulmer, Evan Bloodoff, Mitchell Callahan and Colton Jobke from NHL training camps.
  • What one player stood out for me Saturday night? Steven Hodges. Who? Hodges is the Bruins 16 year-old forward from Delta. Hodges was great with the puck, controlled the play and the Bruins didn't miss with picking him in the first round of the WHL bantam draft two years ago. Wow.
  • It was nice to catching up with Manitoba Moose play-by-play man Brian Munz. Munz was in town taking in the game after spending the week down in Penticton, where the Canucks held their rookie tournament and main camp. Munz will have added responsibilities early next year when he and his wife welcome their first child.
  • I met Rockets rookie forward Colton Heffley's father after the game. As it turns out I watched Colton's dad Darwin play a lot of softball during my time growing up in Swift Current. Darwin Heffley was a good softball player in the small community of Rush Lake. I didn't put two and two together until I saw him standing outside the Rockets dressing room.

Four horse race for exhibition scoring leader

Jason Siebert, Zach Franko, Colton Sissons and Max Adolph are in a four way tie for the most goals scored by a Kelowna Rockets player during the exhibition schedule.
All four players have three goals apiece.
Cody Chikie and Andreas Stene are next with two goals apiece.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rockets improve to 4 and 1

The Kelowna Rockets earned a lopsided 9-1 win in Chilliwack tonight.
Jason Siebert, Zach Franko, Andreas Stene and Colton Scissons scored twice in the win.
Max Adolph also scored as the Rockets out-shot the Bruins 36-20.
In goal, Jordan Cooke stopped all seven shots he faced while Chase Martin gave up one goal on 13 shots.
Thanks to Bruins play-by-play man Randy Merkley for the update.

Rockets 8 Bruins 1 in the third

Siebert, Franko and Scissons each have scored twice. Max Adolph and Andreas Stene have singles.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Two remain at NHL camps, two return and one is in limbo

  • Defenseman Antoine Corbin is headed back to Kelowna after participating with the Dallas Stars at the Traverse City tournament. Corbin was given a free agent tryout by the Stars.
  • Geordie Wudrick is also headed back to Kelowna after a free agent tryout with the Phoenix Coyotes. Wudrick scored twice in the Coyotes 7-1 exhibition win over his old team, the LA Kings, Wednesday night. That must have felt good.
  • Evan Bloodoff is off to main camp with the Coyotes. You may remember last year he couldn't attend camp after failing a physical and then undergoing knee surgery. Bloodoff may be 20, but this is his first main camp with the team that drafted him a couple of years ago.
  • Forward Brett Bulmer is headed to main camp with the Minnesota Wild. This shouldn't be a surprise considering drafted players tend to get an invite to main camp, especially if you are a second rounder.
  • The Detroit Red Wings haven't released its roster for main camp, but you would think Mitchell Callahan will be there. Callahan had an uneventful tournament in Traverse City, but maybe his old feisty self will emerge at Wings main camp.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Six questions I can't answer

  • Who will back up Adam Brown in goal? Is it Chase Martin or Jordon Cooke?
  • How many 16 year-old rookies will the Rockets carry this season? Tyrell Goulbourne, Jason Siebert, Colton Heffley and Damon Severson fall in that category. Severson is the youngest of the group after turning 16 in early August.
  • Who are the three overage players that will see regular duty? Bloodoff and Wudrick were at NHL rookie camps while Wall and Matheson were trying to impress the coaches in Kelowna.
  • If rookies Colton Scissons and Zach Franko earn spots, what two veteran forwards are shown the exit?
  • Do we see more than two veteran forwards on the move? If Gal Koren and Andreas Stene stick, which I expect them to, who else is shown the door?
  • Will Shane McColgan be ready for opening night? McColgan gets his tonsils out tomorrow.

McColgan goes under the knife

Shane McColgan goes under the knife tomorrow morning.
Man, that sounds nasty doesn't it?
The 17 year-old will undergo a tonsillectomy in California.
McColgan tells me he should be back in the Okanagan on Monday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bloodoff impresses in exhibition loss

Evan Bloodoff scored twice in the Phoenix Coyote rookies 5-4 shootout loss Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Kings rookies.
Former Rockets Colin Long and Justin Bernhardt missed in the shootout for the Coyotes.
Geordie Wudrick, who has a tryout with the Coyotes, was held off the score sheet.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kelowna was 'Oil Country' for a day


  • The weekend brought the Edmonton Oilers to Prospera Place. I was one of the few local media to witness the workout. CHBC made a visit, as did the Kelowna Daily Courier. No other local radio, outside of AM 1150 were present. TSN was there, as was CBC. Those national broadcasters don't take the weekend off.

  • It probably isn't following the rules, but I made my way up towards Oilers' head coach Tom Renney, who was watching the workout from the stands. I thought welcoming him to Kelowna was an appropriate thing for me to do without sticking my mic in his face looking for an interview. Renney could have given me the cold shoulder but he didn't snub me in any way. He may be harder to deal with as the season goes on but Renney was a class act during the exchange I had with him.

  • I introduced myself to new Oilers' radio play-by-play man Jack Michaels. Michaels was at the workout at Prospera Place with a watchful eye. No, I was not tempted to push Michaels down the stairs in an attempt to injury him. If you don't understand why I would jokingly suggest that, just ignore the comment. Michaels is living the dream and is in a spot that many of us, me included, would love to be. Congrats to him for getting the Oilers' radio gig. Envious? Yes. Sour grapes? No.

  • After introducing myself to Michaels, I ran into Oilers' color analyst Bob Stauffer. Let me state, while my encounters with Stauffer have been few, I like him. Smart, personable and solid at what he does, I have the utmost respect for him and believe the feeling is mutual.

  • My goal at the workout was to obtain a comment from Taylor Hall which pertained to his visit to Kelowna. The Oilers number one pick from this summers draft spoke about the Rockets winning tradition, and specifically pointed to a painting of Tyler Myers, which is on the wall just outside the Rockets dressing room. Hall is no stranger with Kelowna, having played in a minor hockey tournament here years ago.

  • Hall is a classy kid. He could have bolted to an awaiting bus outside of Prospera Place once the workout was over, but he put on the brakes to sign a few autographs for the fans that were waiting for a glimpse of the future star.

  • Is Jordan Eberle 30? The reason I suggest that is his composure or relaxed approach in media scrums. It looks like he enjoys being behind the mic or in front of the TV camera. Eberle spent some time this summer in Kelowna working out at the Redline High Performance Hockey Centre. He obviously played a few games in Prospera Place as a junior with the Regina Pats. For the record, Eberle is 20.

  • I spoke quickly to Milan Kytnar. Kytnar, a former Rocket, was playing in the middle between Hall and Eberle during Saturday's workout. Kytnar is no longer junior eligible after an injury riddled campaign with the Saskatoon Blades.

  • No one is playing more in the shadows of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle than Kelowna product Curtis Hamilton. Hamilton was the Oilers second round pick in this summers draft, yet few fans, at least now, don't know who he is.

  • So the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton is playing host to the Vancouver Canucks Prospects Tournament this week, but could Kelowna host an event of this magnitude? If you looked at the existing dressing rooms in the arena, the answer is no. Until R.G Properties does some major work to improve the cramped quarters, hosting an event like this won't happen. Sad, but true.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Now that's a hardcore Oilers fan

This Oilers fan was waiting outside Prospera Place Saturday afternoon looking for a few autographs.

Brown and company get it done

  • The Kelowna Rockets improved to 3 and 1 in the pre-season with a 4-2 win over the Kamloops Blazers Saturday night. Max Adolph scored twice, once into an empty net, in the two goal victory. Jason Siebert and Cody Chikie added singles. Adam Brown went the distance in goal. The Rockets close out the exhibition schedule next weekend with a home and home series with the Chilliwack Bruins.
  • The Blazers had a chance to tie the game at 3 when they were granted a 5 on 3 power play late in the game. But heroic shot blocking by Spencer Main and solid goaltending from Adam Brown kept the Blazers at bay.
  • Cody Chikie was the best forward for the Rockets, and he should be. At 19, he should be dictating the play and he did with some good outside speed. Chikie's goal to make the score 3-2 was a nice shot that made its way over the blocker of Blazers goaltender Jon Groenheyde.
  • The best Blazer? I sure like Colin Smith. He is so smart with the puck and has great speed and skill. Yet, every time he skated the puck up ice you tend to hold your breath wondering if he will be hammered off the puck by a bigger body. He just looks so slight out there. That said, Smith is going to put up big numbers this year if he can avoid the injury bug.
  • It was nice to sit down and spend some time with new Blazers p-b-p man Jon Keen. He's excited to be in the Western Conference and is still trying to get used to a new team, job and city.
  • Blazers forward Jake Trask left the game with an undetermined injury. He appeared to hurt his right arm. Trask lay on the ice for several minutes and was helped off the ice by both Blazers trainer Colin Robinson and Rockets athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn.
  • I understand that the Rockets season ticket barbecue Saturday afternoon was the most successful ever. The turnout was impressive as season ticket holders picked up their tickets, had a complimentary hot dog and enjoyed the sunshine and +20 degree temperature.