Sunday, December 30, 2012

Game notes vs. Tips


Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play their 38th game of the season tonight hosting the Everett Silvertips. This is the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. The Rockets were an 8-2 winner back on November 25th. Carter Rigby scored three times in the win. These two teams close out the seasonal series with games February 10th and February 14th. The Rockets look for their 9th win in ten games tonight. Overall, the Rockets have five regulation losses in their last 27 games (21-5-0-1) with setbacks to Tri City (twice), Edmonton, Seattle and Calgary. The Rockets have won 18 of their last twenty-two (18-4-0-0) games overall. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a 13 game home ice winning streak. The only two teams to beat the Rockets on home ice this season are Kamloops and Spokane. The Rockets open the month of January with a home game Wednesday against Victoria before traveling to Prince George for back-to-back games next weekend.           

This and That: Damon Severson has 2+12=14 in his last 8 games. Severson had just 11 points through his first 28 regular season games…Since a 3-0 win over the Kamloops Blazers November 1st the Rockets are 16-4-0-0. Since that loss to the Rockets, the Blazers are 9-9-1-1….The Rockets are 25-10-1-1 after 37 games this season…Madison Bowey was named to the roster for the upcoming CHL-NHL Top Prospects game. Last season two members of the organization participated in the game. Damon Severson and Colton Sissons showcased their skills and were both 2nd round draft picks this summer by New Jersey and Nashville…The Rockets 13 game home ice winning streak is six wins shy of the 18 straight wins in 2002-2003 season…Myles Bell and Dylen McKinlay are the only two Rockets to play in every game this season…The Rockets have led going into the third period in 21 of their last 28 games with two games being tied heading into the final frame.…The Rockets have allowed 14 power play goals against in their last twenty-two games….The Rockets have 20 power play goal in their last 28 games (20 for 91 over that span – 22 %)…..In the Rockets 25 wins, Myles Bell as earned 41 points (16+25=41). Of the 125 goals scored by the team in those 25 games, Bell has been in on 41 of them…The Rockets have scored 131 goals in their last twenty-nine games (average 4.5)....Jordon Cooke was named the CHL/Vaughn Goaltender of the Week for October 22-28th. Cooke had two wins last week which included a shutout and a save percentage of .967…Ryan Olsen played in his 150th career WHL game Nov 3rd against visiting Prince George…Ryan Huska recorded his 200th WHL regular season victory November 24th against the visiting Saskatoon Blades…The Rockets are 14 and 2 after 16 home games this season…Madison Bowey (10), Mitch Wheaton (22) are rated among the top skaters in the WHL by NHL Central Scouting for June’s draft. Jackson Whistle is ranked 7th among WHL goalies…Austin Glover (Team Western), Rourke Chartier (Team Western) and Riley Stadel (Team Pacific) are all playing  at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge this week in Quebec… The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 79-31 on home ice this season…The Rockets have scored the second most goals in the WHL (155)….Tyson Baillie played in his 100th career game Thursday against Kamloops…Zach Franko has two more points (41) than the 39 he put up all of last season. Franko had a career high 53 points (22+31=53) in his rookie season in 2010-2011...MacKenzie Johnston plays in his 200th WHL game tonight against the Tips..J.T Barnett has 7+2=9 in 16 games with the Rockets…Colton Sissons is back in the lineup after missing 10 games with upper body injury.    

Who’s Hot: Myles Bell has 3+3=6 in his last five games…Colton Sissons is riding a seven game point streak (1+7=8). Ryan Olsen has 2+7=9 in his last six games… Zach Franko has 3+11=14 in his last nine games…..Damon Severson has points in seven of his last eight games (2+12=14.) 

Man Games Lost to Injury = 110 games lost
J.T Barnett: 21 games lost      Mitchell Chapman: 37 games lost
Carter Rigby: 13 games lost    Zach Franko: 2 games lost
MacKenzie Johnston: 20 games lost    Jordon Cooke: 5 games lost
Colton Sissons: 10 games lost    Henrik Nyberg: 2 games lost 

Better than Last Year:
Ryan Olsen has 32 points, the same number he had all of last season. Olsen has 18 goals, 4 more than last season….Colton Heffley has 15 points, five more than the 10 he put up last season…Myles Bell has 51 points, 10 more than the 41 he put up last season…Tyson Baillie has 12 goals, two more than he had in his rookie season…Zach Franko has 41 points, two more than the 39 he recorded last season…Jordon Cooke has appeared in 26 games this season, one more appearance than all of last season.   

Friday, December 28, 2012

A few first half awards I would like to hand out.


MVP: Myles Bell. You don’t rack up 50 points in the first half and not be considered for the award. What makes Bell’s point totals so impressive is the fact he had to move to a new position this season. Sure, he had a stint up front last year, but moving full time to a forward role, and making it look easy, was impressive. Now considered an elite player for WHL teams to keep their eye on, Bell is still producing, whether it’s even strength or on the power play. Now NHL teams are taking notice and will undoubtedly look at signing the personable Bell.  With a heavy shot, soft hands, unassuming physical strength and an improved work ethic, Bell is my first half MVP.  Honorable Mention: Zach Franko

Top Defenceman: Damon Severson. Severson elected to concentrate on defense this season and he is a far better player for it. Wanting to generate offense in his draft year, he often coughed up the puck and was at times more of a hindrance than a help on the power play.  Now the 18 year-old can relax and just play the game. No draft to worry about, no contract to fret about, Severson is now generating more points in the last month than he did in the previous two combined.  Damon Severson is my first half selection as Top Defenceman.  Honorable Mention: Madison Bowey

Rookie of the Year: Rourke Chartier. The 16 year-old has been solid in his first season in the WHL. The teams first round pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft is a hard worker, often spends time on the power play and earlier this season was playing with the teams top players.  Chartier’s natural instincts makes him an easy player to coach and a fun player to watch. Just wait until he becomes physically stronger. Rourke Chartier is my first half Rookie of the Year. Honorable Mention: Mitch Wheaton.

Unsung Hero : Colton Sissons. He is a heart and soul player that everyone wants to have on their team. He leads, he wins face offs, he block shots and yes he can score. Sissons will do whatever it takes to get a win for his team.  While Sissons is my first choice, Cody Fowlie is a darn close second. While the 20 year-old arrived on the scene late, Fowlie works his tail off, checks and adds an element of skill. Fowlie never takes a night off and has been a huge asset to the Rockets success this season.  Colton Sissons is my first half Unsung Hero. Honorable Mention: Cody Fowlie

Most Improved:  Zach Franko. Can a player that earned 53 points in his rookie season, be eligible for the most improved player two seasons later? The 19 year-old somehow, somewhere found his game after a disappointing 18 year-old season.  Often shy around pucks, Franko is now the first player on it and sees the ice surface like no other player on his team.  A gifted play maker, this is the Zach Franko the Rockets scouts believed they were getting when they chose him in the second round behind Shane McColgan.   Honorable Mention: MacKenzie Johnston.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Zach Attack

Zach Franko was tremendous before Christmas. If the 19 year-old's first performance after the Christmas break is any indication, the Winnipeg product will be lights out terrific. Franko scored twice and added three assists for a five point game leading the Kelowna  Rockets to a 7-3 win Thursday night over the visiting Kamloops Blazers. It was Franko's first five point game of his three year career. Line mates Ryan Olsen and Myles Bell also showed up on the score sheet. Olsen had two goals and two assists while Bell scored his team leading 20th of the season. The win, the Rockets 24th overall and 13th consecutive on home ice, moved them to within four points of the Blazers for first place in the BC Division with three games in hand. The Rockets visit the Vancouver Giants Friday before hosting the Everett Silvertips on Sunday (5:05 pm).

Rockets game notes vs. Blazers


Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets officially hit the half way point of the season tonight when they host the Kamloops Blazers. These two teams are meeting for the 4th time on the ten game seasonal series. The Rockets are 1-1-1-0 in the first three games, having out-scored their BC Division rivals 12-7. In the last meeting between the two teams, November 1st, the Rockets were a 3-0 winner. The Rockets look for their 7th win in eight games tonight. The team ended a five game in six night Central Division road trip before the Christmas break with four wins and just one loss. The only loss came in 6-2 setback in Calgary. Overall, the Rockets have five regulation losses in their last twenty-five games (19-5-0-1) with setbacks to Tri City (twice), Edmonton, Seattle and Calgary. The Rockets have won sixteen of their last twenty (16-4-0-0) games overall. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a 12 game home ice winning streak. The only two teams to beat the Rockets on home ice this season are the Blazers and Spokane.  The Rockets close out the month of December with a stop in Vancouver tomorrow before hosting Everett on Sunday December 30th.      

This and That: Since a 3-0 win over the Blazers November 1st, the Rockets are 14-4-0-0. Since that loss to the Rockets, the Blazers are 9-8-1-1….These two teams are separated by six points in the standings. The Rockets have played three fewer games….The Rockets have scored 11 more goals than the Blazers and have allowed 10 few goals against….The Rockets are 23-10-1-1 after 35 games this season…Madison Bowey was named to the roster for the upcoming CHL-NHL Top Prospects game. Last season two members of the organization participated in the game. Damon Severson and Colton Sissons showcased their skills and were both 2nd round draft picks this summer by New Jersey and Nashville…Tyson Baillie has 12 goals, a career high after scoring ten last season as a rookie...Baillie has six goals in his last six games…Cole Martin has three career WHL goals. All three have been game winners…The Rockets 12 game home ice winning streak is 6 wins shy of the 18 straight wins in 2002-2003 season…Myles Bell has 153 career points, with 100 of them assists….Bell and line-mate Dylen McKinlay are the only two Rockets to play in every game this season…The Rockets have led going into the third period in 20 of their last 27 games with one game being tied heading into the final frame.…The Rockets have allowed eleven power play goals against in their last twenty games….The Rockets have 17 power play goal in their last twenty-two games (17 for 79 over that span - 21.5%)….The Rockets have twenty-three wins in 35 games this season….In the Rockets 23 wins, Myles Bell as earned 38 points (15+23=38). Of the 113 goals scored by the team in those twenty-three games, Bell has been in on 38 of them…The Rockets have scored 119 goals in their last twenty-seven games (average 4.4)....Jordon Cooke was named the CHL/Vaughn Goaltender of the Week for October 22-28th. Cooke had two wins last week which included a shutout and a save percentage of .967…Ryan Olsen played in his 150th career WHL game Nov 3rd against visiting Prince George…Ryan Huska recorded his 200th WHL regular season victory November 24th against the visiting Saskatoon Blades…The Rockets are 13 and 2 after 15 home games this season…Madison Bowey (10), Mitch heaton (22) are rated among the top skaters in the WHL by NHL Central Scouting for June’s draft. Jackson Whistle is ranked 7th among WHL goalies…Austin Glover (Team Western), Rourke Chartier (Team Western) and Riley Stadel (Team Pacific) will all play at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge this week in Quebec… The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 72-28 on home ice this season…The Rockets have scored the second most goals in the WHL (143). Only Portland (159) has scored more…The Rockets have allowed the third fewest goals against in the league….Three of the Rockets next four games are on home ice.

Who’s Hot: Myles Bell has 23 points in his last fifteen games. Colton Sissons is riding a seven game point streak (1+7=8). Ryan Olsen has (8+7=15) in his last fifteen games. Zach Franko has 1+8=9 in his last seven games…..Tyson Baillie has six goals in his last six games…Damon Severson has points in five of his last six games (2+9=11.) 

Man Games Lost to Injury = 102 games lost
J.T Barnett: 21 games lost     Mitchell Chapman: 35 games lost
Carter Rigby: 13 games lost   Zach Franko: 2 games lost
MacKenzie Johnston: 20 games lost   Jordon Cooke: 3 games lost
Colton Sissons: 8 games lost


Sunday, December 23, 2012

News, quotes and anecdotes

  • Three members of the Kelowna Rockets won't be returning to Kelowna after the Christmas break. Sixteen year-old's Riley Stadel, Austin Glover and Rourke Chartier are headed to Quebec for the start of the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. The tournament begins December 29th and wraps up January 4th with the gold medal game. Stadel will play for Team Pacific while Glover and Chartier are teammates on Team West.
  • The little guy pictured on the right is Carter Rigby. A little smaller, but enthusiastic to play the game. It has been a slow start for the 18 year-old forward, who is looking to a strong second half. Rigby had 11 goals after Christmas last season, so it is anticipated that the best is yet to come.    
  • Second year forward Tyson Baillie is enjoying playing on a line with 20 year-old's Dylen McKinlay and Cody Fowlie. Baillie had four goals on a recent Central Division road trip playing with those two players. "It's good. They are strong players. They don't get knocked off the puck that easy. They make good plays and they are good all-around players both offensively and defensively." Baillie's next game - December 27th - will be the 100th of his WHL career. 
  • Zach Franko, welcome back. After a rough 18 year-old season, the now 19 year-old is playing as dynamic a game as he did when he came on the scene as a 17 year-old rookie. Franko has 36 points this season heading into the Christmas break, that is 20 points more than the six goals and 16 points he put up at the same time last season.  
  • It was nice to spend some time with Red Deer Rebels assistant coach Jeff Truitt on a recent swing through Central Alberta. Truitt has come full circle, as an assistant coach with the Rockets, a few seasons in the American Hockey League as a head and assistant coach and now back to Red Deer as an assistant to Brent Sutter. Has Truitt changed his coaching philosophy since winning a league title with the Rockets in 2005? "Probably a lot more patient", Truitt admitted. I think it comes with maturity and perhaps the ability to adjust to things and sometimes just letting the players work themselves through it and grow from within". Truitt will spend the Christmas break with his wife and two children in Lethbridge. 
  • Who is the only Rockets player to double his goal total from last season? Cole Martin has two goals this season after scoring once in his rookie season. "I'm not going to sit here and say my goals are nice, bar down goals, but I just try to put them on net when its tied or we are a goal down and hopefully it finds its way in". Martin has three career goals, which includes one in the playoffs against the Portland Winterhawks.
  • Two Kelowna Rockets prospects will be participating in the Mac's Midget Hockey tournament at Christmas. Nick Merkley and his Calgary based team will compete along with Joe Gatenby and the Okanagan Rockets. Merkley was the Rockets first round pick in this summers bantam draft while Gatenby was picked in the second round.
  • As I mentioned earlier this week, defenceman Damon Severson took his game to a new level on this recently Central Division road trip with 8 points in five games. Severson explains how he is maturing both on and off the ice. "That's what the Devils want from me is maturing every day, getting better and becoming a pro. That's what I've been trying to work on and trying to lead by example." Severson had 10 points in his first 26 games this season. As mentioned, in his last five games he has 8 points (2+6=8).   
  • This will be my last blog posting before Christmas. Have a great couple of days enjoying family and friends and we will see you back at Prospera Place on December 27th. Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by for a quick visit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A few Christmas numbers


·    I guess the world didn’t end after all or you wouldn’t be reading this. Thank God. I didn’t want the world to end with the Kelowna Rockets playing such great hockey. What a shame that would have been.
·    Since a 5-3 loss in Edmonton on October 27th the Rockets are 16-4-0-0 in their last 20 games.
·    The Rockets have played 19 road games this season. That means 17 road games remain with only two significant trips to Prince George (Jan 4/5) and Victoria (Feb 22/23).
·    With 37 games left in the regular season, 23 of them 62% will be played against teams in the BC Division. Of those 37 games, only two (Lethbridge and PA) are against teams outside the Western Conference.
·    The Rockets make only 4 more trips across the border into the United States. The team plays Spokane twice and Everett and Seattle once.             
·    The Rockets defensive core is a combined +104.
·    The Rockets record is 23-10-1-1. Last season before the Christmas break, the team was 14-16-2-3.  That is 9 more wins, 6 fewer losses and 15 more points than a season ago.
·    Last season prior to the Christmas break the Rockets scored 112 goals. This season at the ‘break’, the team has scored 143 times or 31 more goals.

·Myles Bell has 48 points after 35 games this season. The 19 year-old is on pace for a 100 points season. Who was the last Rockets player to record 100 points in a season? Colin Long had exactly 100 points in the 2007-2008 season. That year, Long had 31 goals and 69 assists.
·Bell has 48 points after 35 games this season. Shane McColgan was the leading point getter on the team after 35 games last season. McColgan had 10+26=36 points.

The Rockets play Kamloops and Vancouver seven more times. 
·     How cute is this little minor hockey player pictured to the right? That is Kelowna Rockets forward Ryan Olsen in his minor hockey days. Who would have thought Olsen would become a power forward with 16 goals under his belt. With a strong second half, is 30 a possibility before seasons end?            

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rockets prospect receives all-star birth

Congratulations to Kelowna Rockets prospect Joe Gatenby for being named to the BC Major Midget League All-Star game. Gatenby and seven of his Okanagan Rockets teammates will compete in the game January 18th in Langley. Gatenby is a second round pick of the Kelowna Rockets in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. This season in midget, Gatenby has 2 goals and 13 assists in 23 games. Okanagan Rockets head coach James Eccles will coach 'Team Red' while general manager David Michaud participates in the showcase for the second time in the last three seasons. The Okanagan Rockets have a busy schedule ahead of them, including a birth in the prestigious Mac's Midget Hockey tournament in Calgary during Christmas. The Okanagan Rockets open the tourney Boxing Day against the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rockets photographer plays role of hero

Cindy Rogers is a photographer with the Kelowna Rockets. She does her best work behind the lens of a camera. That statement may no longer be true after her heroic efforts Wednesday after a Jeep veered off Highway 97 and landed in Wood Lake. The New Zealand born Rogers was driving by the accident scene, between Vernon and Kelowna, when she stepped out of her vehicle and jumped into the freezing water to try and save whoever was in trouble.
"Because someones life is down there. Someones dad, someones wife, someone! I couldn't think of not jumping in and helping out. I would only hope someone would do that for me if I was stuck in the same position."
Rogers entered the water, swam towards the submerged vehicle and attempted to break the glass with a rock. Rogers says the idea came about after watching the movie Ghostbusters.
"They said that if it (vehicle) is submerged in water that is just over the car you won't be able to push or kick the windows out and you need something to smash it with. I tried grabbing a rock but that wasn't budging it so I yelled out if someone had a hammer and someone had a hammer in their truck so I used it."
A 58 year-old woman from Salmon Arm died in the accident.
It is unclear if she was the lone occupant of the vehicle.
"Like I said, it is one of those things in life. You have to jump at it. Someone has to step up to the plate", Rogers added.                         

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Who did the heavy lifting on road trip

The Kelowna Rockets won four of five games on a Central Division road trip. The team out-scored the opposition 19-11 in the five games. This is a breakdown of who did what on the trip.

Leading point producer: This one may surprise you. It was Damon Severson. The 18 year-old d-man picked up 8 points (2+6=8) in the five games and was named the first star three times. Tyson Baillie had a strong trip with 5 points and led the team in goals with four. Zach Franko had five points, with all five coming on assists. Myles Bell (2+2=4), Dylen McKinlay (1+3=4) and Ryan Olsen (0+4=4) each had four points in the five games.

Good start, good finish: Of the 19 goals scored on the five game road trip, six were scored in the first period with 8 scored in the final frame.

Second period problems: Of the 11 goals the team gave up in the five games, which isn't many, seven of them were scored in the second period. Only one goal was allowed in the first period in all five games. That one goal in the first period came against Red Deer on a shot that went off the glass behind the net, bounced back in front and made its way past Jackson Whistle.

Power to the power play: The Rockets scored six of their 19 goals on the power play. In 24 chances, the Rockets efficiency rate was a solid 25 percent. The only negative was giving up a shorthanded goal on a 5 on 3 power play against the Calgary Hitmen.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A few photos from the roady

MacKenzie Johnston is back on the ice and should be ready to go after the Christmas break.

Tyrell Goulbourne getting the legs going before the game.
It is all about team chemistry. If you like each other you play hard for each other. Dylen McKinlay is pictured here with fellow overager Cody Fowlie. Two great additions this season.
Former Kelowna RCMP officer Gary Creed joined the team on the trip. Creed is now working out of Red Deer. He says the red shirt he is wearing has a winning percentage of close to .900. I don't doubt him.  
One of the best locations in the WHL to call a game. The Med Hat Arena


The Rockets bus, all clean and looking good outside the hotel in Calgary. The bus looked as good as the team played.

Out of gas in final game of terrific road trip

  • Calgary Hitmen fans won't care, but the 85 hundred patrons that watched their home town team crush the Kelowna Rockets Sunday afternoon saw little of how good the visiting team can really play. They may have seen a glimpse in the first period when the Rockets out-shot the Hitmen 13-6, but the wheels quickly fell off the wagon in the second period after surrendering a shorthanded goal on a five on three. Had the Rockets scored the game would have been tied at one. Instead Cody Sylvester beat Jackson Whistle between the legs and the Hitmen enjoyed a 2-0 lead. 
  • Whistle received the start after number one goaltender Jordon Cooke couldn't play because of a lower body injury. That forced the Rockets to dress 15 year-old Jake Morrissey, a Rockets 5th round bantam pick this summer, as Whistle's back up. The Calgary resident would be pressed into action after Whistle was injured in the second period after receiving a shot to the knee where their was no padding. After grimacing in pain for a good portion of the second period and essentially playing on one leg, Whistle was yanked and Morrissey played the third period. It marked the first time ever in Rockets franchise history that a 15 year-old goaltender saw action in a WHL game. Morrissey, who was put into a tough spot, surrendered three goals in his debut.
  • Despite being down 4-0, the Rockets battled back with a goal from Jesse Lees. Moments later, a turnover in the Hitmen's zone resulted in Zach Franko and Myles Bell going in on Hitmen goaltender Chris Driedger on a breakaway. With no Hitmen defenceman to be found, the two skated in but unfortunately over passed the puck and didn't even get a shot on goal. Yep, it was one of those games.  
  • The game had a physical element to it. Henrik Nyberg left the game after a huge first period hit and Hitmen forward Chase Clayton had to leave the game after being run over by Tyrell Goulbourne.
  • Goulbourne had a spirited fight with Brendan Hurley in the second period, which turned out to be the only bright spot for the Rockets who generated just one shot on goal in the frame. 
  • The loss in Calgary won't diminish a strong Central Division road trip. The Rockets won four of five games played over six short days which included stops in Cranbrook, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer in Calgary. Routinely arriving at the hotel at 3 o'clock in the morning finally catches up to you and that was the case Sunday.  
  • The Rockets are now 23-10-1-1, which is 13 games above the .500 mark at the Christmas break.  
  • The Rockets out-scored the opposition 19-11 in the five games. Impressive considering they played without veterans Colton Sissons, MacKenzie Johnston and Mitchell Chapman. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Merkley follows in bantam draft prospects footsteps

A dynamic young player makes his Kelowna Rockets debut tonight in Red Deer. Fifteen year-old Nick Merkley will be in the line up as the Rockets look for their 6th straight win against a Rebels team that is as red hot as the Rockets are right now. Merkley was the teams 1st round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft and is a high end forward with loads of offensive potential. The Rockets organization are no strangers in letting their prospects get their feet wet at the WHL level by playing them on an Alberta road trip. Two years ago Madison Bowey made his debut in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes. Jesse Lees was given the same luxury when the then 15 year-old made his debut in Calgary against the Hitmen. Shane McColgan, the teams first round pick in 2008, made his debut in Red Deer as a 15 year-old in December 2008. Merkley will wear sweater #10.