Thursday, January 31, 2013

Game notes vs. Royals

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Victoria Royals for the fifth of eight times this season. The Rockets are 3-1-0-0 against their BC Division rivals, having out-scored the Royals 16-7. The Rockets make a return visit to Victoria February 22/23rd before the seasonal series comes to an end on March 6th at Prospera Place. The Rockets are coming off four games in five nights where they earned seven out of a possible eight points. Tonight’s game is the start of three games in three nights. The Rockets are in Vancouver tomorrow before hosting the Giants Saturday. This is game 52 of the regular season for the Rockets, who enter tonight’s contest with 37 wins on the season and 78 points in the standings, six more than all of last season. The Rockets have five regulation losses in their last 41 games (33-5-2-1) with setbacks to Tri City (twice), Edmonton, Seattle and Calgary. The Rockets have won 30 of their last 35 (28-4-3-0) games overall. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a 21 game home ice winning streak. The only two teams to beat the Rockets on home ice this season are Kamloops and Spokane. The Rockets have points in sixteen straight games (14-0-2-0), having out-scored the opposition 84-41.

January Blues? No way! The Kelowna Rockets are 11-0-2-0 in 13 games this month. That is the equivalent of 24 points in the standings. The 2002-2003 edition of the Rockets went 13-1-0-0 with one tie in 15 games in the month of January. That is the equivalent of 27 points in the standings. The only loss came to the Kamloops Blazers.

McKinlay Milestone: Dylen McKinlay celebrates his 300th career WHL regular season game tonight against the Royals . Oddly enough his career started with the Royals, who were then known as the Chilliwack Bruins. Interestingly, McKinlay’s first WHL game was against the Kelowna Rockets. The last Rockets player to record 300 games played was Geordie Wudrick in 2010-2011. Wudrick played in a total of 349 regular season games.

Rockets 300 Club: Six players have celebrated over 300 games, all with the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets. Here is that list: Jason Deleurme: 341, Tyler Mosienko: 338, Brett Palin: 324, Cam Paddock: 323, Gavin McLeod: 321 and Ryan Cuthbert: 319. Geordie Wudrick (349), Bart Rushmer (333), Clayton Barthel (327) and Simon Ferguson (319) also celebrated 300 games in the WHL, but like McKinlay, their entire career was not solely spent with the Rockets organization.      

Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 22-2-0-0 at Prospera Place this season. The team has scored 124 goals (5.2 per game) and has allowed 46 goals against (1.9 per game).  The Rockets have scored at least 3 or more goals in every home game this season except one, when they lost 3-2 to the visiting Kamloops Blazers. The Rockets have scored four or more goals in 18 of their 24 home games. Jordon Cooke and Jackson Whistle have combined for five home ice shutouts this season. The team has allowed two or fewer goals at home this season in 17 of 24 games.

This and That: The Rockets are 2 for 15 (13.3%) on the power play in their last five games….The Rockets have failed to score a power play goal in four of their last five games…The Rockets gave up 6 goals in a 6-5 overtime loss Monday in Kamloops. It marked the first time since a 6-2 loss in Calgary December 16th that they have surrendered 6 goals on the road….Myles Bell snapped a mini six game goal scoring drought with two goals in Kamloops Monday night. Bell has 29 goals on the season….The Rockets have 9 road games left in the regular season with 7 of them against BC Division teams…Five of the Rockets 10 losses this season have been decided by a single goal… Jordon Cooke was named the WHL Goaltender of the Month for December. Cooke was 6-0-0-0 and posted a goals against average of 2.00. Cooke had his 20 consecutive winning streak snapped in Monday’s overtime loss in Kamloops. Kelly Guard won 10 straight games – four different times between 2002 and 2004….Since a 3-0 win over the Kamloops Blazers November 1st the Rockets are 28-4-2-0….The Rockets 21 game home ice winning streak is a team record. The franchise record is held by the Tacoma Rockets, who won 24 straight home games in 1992-93….Dylen McKinlay is  the only Rocket to play in every game this season…The Rockets have led going into the third period in 34 of their last 42 games with two games being tied heading into the final frame.…The Rockets have 34 power play goal in their last 42 games (34 for 144 over that span – 23.6 %)…..The Rockets have scored 204 goals in their last 43 games (average 4.74)....Madison Bowey (22), Mitch Wheaton (63) and Myles Bell (87) are rated among the top players by NHL Central Scouting for June’s draft. The mid-season rankings were released by NHLCS on Tuesday. Jackson Whistle is rated (26) among North American goalies…The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 124-46 on home ice this season…The Rockets have scored the most goals in the WHL (228)….Zach Franko has sixteen more points (55) than the 39 he put up all of last season. That is a new career high for the 19 year-old…..J.T Barnett has 8+11=19 in 27 games with the Rockets…Dylen McKinlay has four shorthanded goals…Since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have picked up 664 wins over the last 18 seasons…Since entering the WHL in 1991, the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets have scored 4 thousand 558 goals (4,558)…Zach Franko has 55 points this season. Twenty-eight (31) have been registered on the road with 24 coming on home ice…Jordon Cooke’s 27 wins is the most in the WHL….The Rockets have participated in one shootout game this season. That is a league low. Last season the Rockets were involved in a league high 15…The Rockets lead the WHL in home ice wins with (22)…Dylen McKinlay leads the team in plus/minus with a +42. It is the highest +/- total for a Kelowna Rockets player. Jesse Schultz was +40 in 2002-2003…Since November 1st the Rockets have lost four times in regulation…Six of the teams ten regulation losses came in the first five weeks of the season…Zach Franko is one point shy of 150 for his career….JT Barnett is 5 games shy of 250 for his WHL career…Tyrell Goulbourne has 16 fighting majors this season.              
Who’s Hot: Tyson Baillie has 3+3=6 in his last four games…..Jesse Lees has four goals in his last six games…Colton Sissons is riding an eight game point streak. Sissons has 3+9=12 over that period… Ryan Olsen has goals in eight of his last ten games… Zach Franko has 7+7=14 in January, tops among Rockets players…MacKenzie Johnston has 11 points (3+8=11) in his last 12 games…Carter Rigby has 7+3=10 in last five games.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Notes, a quote and anecdotes

  • Isn't 72 regular season games in the WHL too much? The question comes to the forefront again after the Kelowna Rockets just completed a stretch which saw them on the ice four times in the last five night's. Surprisingly they came away with 3 wins and an overtime loss.
  • The Victoria Royals come into Kelowna red hot. The Royals have won 7 of their last 8 games after a shootout loss last night to the PA Raiders. The guy to watch Thursday is Brandon Magee. The 18 year-old has nine goals in his last four games and should have arguably been named the WHL Player of the Week after putting up six goals against the Vancouver Giants in back-to-back games on the weekend. I guess with that said, Rockets forward Carter Rigby could also be considered for POW after recording back-to-back hat tricks on home ice.
  • Myles Bell now has 7-two goal games this season. Ryan Olsen has five-two goal games while Cody Fowlie has four. In total, 11 players on this years team has multiple goal games.
  • Speaking of Olsen, (pictured right), the 18 year-old has two more points than Shane McColgan of the Saskatoon Blades. The two were traded for one another this summer. McColgan has 11 goals while Olsen has 26. Olsen is only three back of Myles Bell for the team lead in goals. Bell has 29, five back of the league lead.   
  • I wonder if every time Blades coach Lorne Molleken looks at Olsen's stats he cringes? Maybe that only happens when he looks at Colton Sissons. How good would those two players look in a Blades uniform right now?   
  • I was a Blackberry user and reluctantly went to an IPhone at the request of the radio station. Would never go back.
  • I just downloaded the Edmonton Oilers app on my phone. It is outstanding. I would love the Kelowna Rockets to offer a similar app where blogs, articles and video would be as close as your phone. Only time will tell.
  • Who do you want to win tonight...Kamloops or Portland? The two teams collide tonight in the Rose City. A Portland win and they are seven points up on the Rockets for first place in the WHL standings. A Blazers win and the Rockets lead them by just five points for first place in the BC Division. Personally, I will go with a Winterhawks victory and let you figure out why I'd say that.
  •  Here is Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk's take on the Kelowna Rockets. "They are playing with so much confidence. You can really see it...they are playing for one another as a team. When it's 6-0 they are still blocking shots and doing things for the reason of winning. They have depth and they keep coming at you".  
  • Ryan Olsen and Myles Bell are approaching 30 goals. When was the last time two Rockets scored 30 or more goals in the same season? It was 2008-2009 when Jamie Benn (43), Colin Long (33) and Cody Almond (33) all reached the 30 goal benchmark. 
  • I received a nice e-mail this week from a mother of a Kelowna Rockets player. I won't mention what was said, but her kind words were appreciated. I am glad that this blog, which is time consuming, provides families/friends and fans with a little more than what you can read either in the newspaper or hear on our broadcasts. I try to share my opinion to make it an interesting place to visit.
  • I am still amazed that when Gary Glitters - Rock'n Roll song comes on at the ShoWare Center, the fans yell out in unison, "Portland Sucks".   
  • I made this comment on Twitter the other day but I thought I should get it in print. Ryan Huska should be considered a front runner for the Western Conference coach of the year. While Travis Green and Guy Charron have done a great job with Portland and Kamloops respectively, those two teams were suppose to be at the top of the conference. The Rockets, led by Huska, weren't suppose to be in the same breath as those two teams.      

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hard to be doom and gloom after overtime loss

  • Losing in overtime never feels good. But realistically, if you throw in all of the variables it is hard to feel discouraged after a 6-5 overtime loss last night to the Kamloops Blazers. The Rockets were playing their fourth game in five night's and simply ran into penalty trouble. When you are not sharp mentally, which fatigue plays a factor, you take undisciplined penalties that normally you wouldn't take. I am not here to make excuses, but the game was clearly decided on the power play. Had the Rockets not taken those trips to the penalty box, the chances of the Blazers scoring three even strength goals were slim. I thought the Rockets were the better team five on five. Only when the Blazers had the extra man on the ice were they able to dominate the play.  
  • Sure, the Rockets gave up two - two goal leads in the third period, but at the end of the day with the schedule this team has endured in January, picking up a point in a building where the home team has lost just four times in regulation is a pretty decent accomplishment. I could come on this blog and be negative after the loss, but honestly I can't. Against elite teams like Kamloops their is a fine line between winning and losing. You can't take bad penalties, you need great goaltending and you need a good response from your own specialty teams unit. The Rockets fell short in those three areas and still managed a point. Tough to leave the Interior Savings Centre feeling glum when you look at the big  picture of how the visiting team played.
  • The Rockets could have won this game as easily as the Blazers. Zach Franko hits the goal post in overtime on the teams only shot on goal. It was one of three goal posts and two breakaways the visiting team failed to convert on.
  • The coaches won't complain about it, but I thought the penalty in overtime was questionable. In a tied game, against two marquee teams, Rockets forward Dylen McKinlay attempts to check Blazers forward Tim Bozon with his stick in the neutral zone. Bozon goes down, what I would consider easily,  and the Blazers go to the power play. Good on Bozon for going down. Veteran move. That call essentially put a gun to the head of the Rockets. If the call went the other way the Blazers would have been pleading for mercy. It's a death sentence. Kamloops is an elite team that when given the power play chance, specifically on a 4 on 3, will beat you. In my opinion the tough penalty to take was the slash Carter Rigby took when the Rockets had a 5-3 lead. It gave the Blazers momentum and the game tilted in their favor after that.
  • A tough night for the goaltenders. Cole Cheveldave fought the puck and was suspect on Rigby's second period goal which made the score 5-3. Cheveldave even had one squeeze past him, and with a fresh sheet of ice, the puck may have slowly slid past the goal line. It is safe to say Jordon Cooke had his struggles too. JC Lipon's wrister from just inside the blue line less than a minute into the third period would have been stopped 99 percent of the time. Instead the shot beat him blocker side and the Rockets two goal lead was reduced to one. But, lets not forget Cooke's tremendous save against Blazers d-man Marek Hrbas on a grade 'A' chance in overtime. It should have been game over, but Cooke came up large. It was Cooke's first loss in 21 starts. That is a WHL record, even though that achievement isn't technically kept by the league.  
  • Chase Suoto scored the game winner after he redirected a puck  - in the air  - from a point shot. I have mentioned on this blog before that I've been impressed by Suoto's improvement as a player. He came into the WHL wanting to be a scrapper, to antagonize and be a disturber but concussions have likely forced him to change his game. The change has been for the better. 
  • Blazer forwards Colin Smith and Tim Bozon receive a lot of positive press for the dynamic plays they make. What shouldn't be lost is the contribution that Matt Needman and Cole Ully make. Blazers fans can disagree with me if they want, but I thought 5 on 5, Needman and Ully were more affective. 
  • I predicted this season that Brendan Ranford would score 50 goals this season. The Blazers sharp shooter is no where near that total. It has been a tough season for the 20 year-old, who looked like a 50 goal man last night with 1+2=3. 
  • It would be interesting to know how many wins/points the Blazers have earned with late third period rallies. They are the kings of the third period comeback. Either they score the tying goal late or score the game winner. In the two wins against the Rockets, the Blazers have scored the tying goal or game winner with 33 second left (3-2 win Sept 22) and the tying goal with 22 second left (last night) in regulation time. Interesting to note that both those goals were scored on the power play.   
  • These two teams are evenly matched. It would make for an outstanding playoff series where home ice advantage would be crucial. My gut feeling is these two won't meet in the post season though, so enjoy the final five meetings of the season between the two teams.
  • For the credibility of the three stars, I think the Blazers organization has to rethink their approach. Whoever selects them must take a more balanced approach. Giving the Blazers all three stars looks bad on them. If you want to go that way, mention that the 'Blazers three stars are' and take that approach. My good friend Jon Keen, who see's the game very well, gave Rockets forward Myles Bell the third star on his broadcast.   
  • A few more positive notes. The overtime loss still earned a point for the Rockets, who moved within three points of Portland for first place in the overall WHL standings. 
  • The Rockets lead in the BC Division was reduced by just one, so they still have a 7 point lead on Kamloops with a game in hand. 
  • With one game left in January, the Rockets are 11-0-2-0 in the month. Can you honestly be critical of that record?  If you do, please go see a doctor. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Game notes vs. Blazers

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Kamloops Blazers in a rare Monday night game. This is the fifth meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rockets are 2-1-1-0 in the first four games, having out-scored the Blazers 17-12 in the seasonal series. After tonight these two teams meet again in a home and home series February 15th and 16th. The seasonal series concludes with games March 3rd (@Kamloops), March 8th (@Kamloops) and March 9th (in Kelowna). The Rockets are playing their 4th game in five nights after winning three games in three nights with victories over Seattle (twice) and Prince Albert. Following tonight’s title with the Blazers, the Rockets host Victoria (Thursday, Jan 31), are in Vancouver (Friday, Feb 1) before hosting the Giants (Saturday, February 2nd).  This is game 51 of the regular season for the Rockets, who enter tonight’s contest with 37 wins on the season and 77 points in the standings, five more than all of last season. The Rockets have five regulation losses in their last 40 games (33-5-1-1) with setbacks to Tri City (twice), Edmonton, Seattle and Calgary. The Rockets have won 30 of their last 34 (28-4-1-0) games overall. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a 21 game home ice winning streak. The only two teams to beat the Rockets on home ice this season are Kamloops and Spokane. Overall, the Rockets have points in fifteen straight games (14-0-1-0), having out-scored the opposition 79-35. The Rockets have won six in a row.  

Seasonal Series Breakdown:

Period      1       2     3    OT   Total

Rockets:   3      9     5     0       17

Blazers:    1      5     5     1       12

*The Rockets have out-shot the Blazers in three of the four games. The Rockets power play is 4 for 16 in the seasonal series. (25%). The Blazers have had seven more power play chances than the Rockets in the four games. (5 for 23 or 22%). 

Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 22-2-0-0 at Prospera Place this season. The team has scored 124 goals (5.2 per game) and has allowed 46 goals against (1.9 per game).  The Rockets have scored at least 3 or more goals in every home game this season except one, when they lost 3-2 to the visiting Kamloops Blazers. The Rockets have scored four or more goals in 18 of their 24 home games. Jordon Cooke and Jackson Whistle have combined for five home ice shutouts this season. The team has allowed two or fewer goals at home this season in 17 of 24 games.

This and That: The Rockets have road games left in the regular season with 8 of them against BC Division teams…With 22 games left in the regular season, the Rockets sit in first place in the BC Division with a eight  point lead on second place Kamloops…. The Rockets 37 wins this season is six better than their win total from all of last season….Five of the Rockets 10 losses this season have been decided by a single goal… Jordon Cooke was named the WHL Goaltender of the Month for December. Cooke was 6-0-0-0 and posted a goals against average of 2.00. Cooke has won his last 20 games. That is a franchise record and is believed to be a league record yet that mark is not recorded in the WHL record book. Kelly Guard won 10 straight games – four different times between 2002 and 2004….The Rockets are rated as the 4th best team in Canada according to the CHL Top 10 rankings.…Since a 3-0 win over the Kamloops Blazers November 1st the Rockets are 28-4-1-0….The Rockets 21 game home ice winning streak is a team record. The franchise record is held by the Tacoma Rockets, who won 24 straight home games in 1992-93….Dylen McKinlay is  the only Rocket to play in every game this season…The Rockets have led going into the third period in 33 of their last 41 games with two games being tied heading into the final frame.…The Rockets have 34 power play goal in their last 41 games (34 for 141 over that span – 24.1 %)…..The Rockets have scored 199 goals in their last 42 games (average 4.74)....The Rockets are 22 and 2 after 24 home games this season…Madison Bowey (22), Mitch Wheaton (63) and Myles Bell (87) are rated among the top players by NHL Central Scouting for June’s draft. The mid-season rankings were released by NHLCS on Tuesday. Jackson Whistle is rated (26) among North American goalies…The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 124-46 on home ice this season…The Rockets have scored the most goals in the WHL (223)….Zach Franko has fourteen more points (53) than the 39 he put up all of last season. Franko has tied his career high of 53 points (22+31=53) set in his rookie season in 2010-2011...J.T Barnett has 8+11=19 in 26 games with the Rockets…Dylen McKinlay has four shorthanded goals…Since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have picked up 664 wins over the last 18 seasons…Since entering the WHL in 1991, the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets have scored 4 thousand 553 goals (4,553)…Zach Franko has 53 points this season. Twenty-eight (29) have been registered on the road with 24 coming on home ice…Jordon Cooke’s 27 wins is the most in the WHL….The Rockets have participated in one shootout game this season. That is a league low. Last season the Rockets were involved in a league high 15…The Rockets lead the WHL in home ice wins with (22)…Dylen McKinlay leads the team in plus/minus with a +40. Jesse Schultz was +40 in 2002-2003…Since November 1st the Rockets have lost four times in regulation…Six of the teams ten regulation losses came in the first five weeks of the season…Dylen McKinlay will play in his 300th game this Thursday against visiting Victoria. McKinlay is playing his 299th career game tonight.  McKinlay has 98 career assists…Zach Franko is three points shy of 150 for his career….Colton Heffley played in 150th career game Saturday  vs. Prince Albert…JT Barnett is 6 games shy of 250 for his WHL career…Tyrell Goulborune has 16 fighting majors this season.              
 
Who’s Hot: Tyson Baillie has 3+3=6 in his last three games…..Jesse Lees has four goals in his last five games…Colton Sissons is riding a seven game point streak. Sissons has 3+7=10 over that period… Ryan Olsen has goals in seven of his last nine games… Zach Franko has 7+5=12 in January, tops among Rockets players…MacKenzie Johnston has 11 points (3+8=11) in his last 11 games…Carter Rigby has 6+3=9 in last four games.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Four lines of fury

  • The Prince Albert Raiders likely woke up this morning still wondering which was considered the Kelowna Rockets number one line. I don't blame them. The first unit was as good as the fourth Saturday night in a dominating 6-2 win at Prospera Place. The Rockets were relentless in playing a pressure game that had the Raiders chasing the puck all night long. You knew it would be a rough night for the visitors when Tyrell Goulbourne, celebrating his 19th birthday, set up Cody Fowlie for the opening goal less than four minutes into the game. From there, it was all down hill for the visitors.
  • I was honestly shocked at how badly the Raiders were outplayed. This game wasn't even close. The Rockets surely were the more fatigued team after arriving back in Kelowna at 5 am after an emotional 4-3 overtime win against the T-Birds the night before. The Raiders looked flat and the Rockets looked every bit the part of a team that is knocking on the door for first place in the overall standings.  
  • Tyson Baillie continues to impress. A three point night against the Raiders and the overtime hero Friday night in Seattle. The 17 year-old could arguably be considered the best third round pick the team has had since Seth Leonard was chosen in the 1993 WHL Bantam Draft. Baillie has 17 goals, seven more than in his rookie season. 
  • Madison Bowey and Mitch Wheaton are getting a lot of attention in their draft year, but Jesse Lees is showing NHL scouts he has some game. Lees now has 8 goals, 4 of them in his last five games. The 17 year-old's +39 rating isn't to bad either.
  • Dylen McKinlay is turning into a force. The 20 year-old's worth ethic has turned up a notch and his battle level has taken huge strides over the past few games. It is fair to say he has shown in the second half that he can throw the body with the best of them. His 48 points don't hurt either. What a pick up. 
  • Ryan Olsen hit the 25 goal plateau. Eleven of those 25 have been on the power play. The 18 year-old is making a statement that he would have looked awfully good in a Saskatoon Blades uniform this season. The Blades loss is the Rockets gain.
  • Colton Heffley sure looked good on defence last night. The 18 year-old forward didn't look out of place. Heffley makes smart plays, is as strong as an ox and can hit. Just ask Raiders forward Carson Perreaux after he was ran over by Heffley at centre ice. 
  • I was really impressed with the play of Raiders goaltender Andy Desautels. Desautels was the only reason this game didn't go into double digits. He gave up six, but received little help from the guys in front of him.
  • I counted six goal posts hit by the Rockets.    
  • The Rockets have won 21 consecutive games on home ice and are now 22 and 2 at Prospera Place.
  • Overall the team has won 6 straight heading into Monday's game in Kamloops in a match up of the top two teams in the BC Division. The two teams are separated by 8 points in the standings with the Rockets holding a game in hand.
  • The Rockets have now won 37 games this season. All that is left is 22 games in the regular season. 
  • Photo by Marissa Baecker. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Move over Jamie Benn, you've got company

  • Jamie Benn move over. The Dallas Stars sharp shooter now has some company when it comes to Kelowna Rockets players that have recorded hat tricks in back-to-back games. Benn did it back in the 2008-2009 season and 18 year-old Carter Rigby did it Thursday night in a 8-0 win over Seattle. Rigby scored three times and added two assists for a five point night. Rigby had a hat trick last Saturday in a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Giants. Rigby now has three-three goal games this season. The last Rockets player to do that was Geordie Wudrick, who managed the feat in 2010-2011. The win, the Rockets 20th consecutive on home ice, moved them 6 points up on Kamloops in the fight for first place in the BC Division and within four points of Portland for first place in the overall WHL standings.       
  • Rigby, Benn and Brett McLean are the only Kelowna Rockets to record hat tricks in back-to-back games. Nope, Justin Keller, Jason Deleurme and Jesse Schultz were able to accomplish the feat and all three of them found the back of the net with regularity.     
  • The line of Carter Rigby, Colton Heffley and J.T Barnett were the story in the teams 35th win of the season. Those three combined for 13 points. Heffley had a goal and three assists while Barnett had four assists and a fight. It was Heffley's first four point game of his WHL career. Barnett hasn't recorded four points in his 4 seasons with Kelowna, Everett, Kamloops and Vancouver.
  • Jordon Cooke made 18 saves for his 4th shutout of the season. That is one off the league lead. Cooke is now tied for the WHL lead in wins (26).
  • How about Tyrell Goulbourne's fight with T-Birds d-man Jesse Forsberg? That is as quick and dominant a fight as you will see. Three punches and done.
  • I had a lot of people commenting to me about Goulbourne's speed. Over the last two games specifically, Goulbourne has shown off his tremendous acceleration while killing off a penalty. Coach Huska wasn't joking when he suggested last week that Goulbourne could be the fastest skater on the team without the puck. Do you think NHL scouts are intrigued? Yepper.
  • Seems odd doesn't it. The Rockets win 8-0 and Zach Franko and Ryan Olsen don't find the score sheet. Myles Bell had a quiet night with one assist. 
  • The strangest part of the evening came as the two teams traveled back to Kent for tonight's rematch at ShoWare Center. Both buses arrived at the Sumas border crossing at 2 am in the morning with players, coaches and broadcasters looking blurry eyed after the battle five hours prior. No words were spoken, but odd stares were shared as the two teams waited in a small holding room while border guards checked out the team buses and allowed them to go along their way.
  • We are back on the air with the rematch tonight on AM 1150. We have the pre-game show at 7 and the play-by-play at 7:30.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rockets vs. T-Birds

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets begin a tough portion of the WHL schedule tonight when they host the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Rockets will play seven games in nine days. The Rockets are in Seattle (Kent) tomorrow night before hosting Prince Albert Saturday. The team then travels to Kamloops for a rare Monday night game before hosting Victoria (Thursday, Jan 31), in Vancouver (Friday, Feb 1) before hosting the Giants (Saturday, February 2nd).  This is game 48 of the regular season for the Rockets, who enter tonight’s game with 34 wins on the season and 71 points in the standings, one fewer than all of last season. The Rockets have five regulation losses in their last 37 games (30-5-1-1) with setbacks to Tri City (twice), Edmonton, Seattle and Calgary. The Rockets have won 27 of their last 31 (26-4-1-0) games overall. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a 19 game home ice winning streak. The only two teams to beat the Rockets on home ice this season are Kamloops and Spokane. Overall, the Rockets have points in twelve straight games (11-0-1-0), having out-scored the opposition 61-30. Overall, the Rockets have won three straight.  

Seasonal Series vs. Seattle: This is the second of four meetings between the T-Birds this season. These two teams met December 1st in Kent with the T-Birds earning a 4-2 win. Myles Bell and Rourke Chartier scored in a losing cause while Jackson Whistle made 27 saves in the setback. The Rockets were 0 for 5 on the power play. Brandon Glover made 37 saves for the T-Birds and was named the first star.  Last season Seattle won both games at Prospera Place by scores of 2-1 in a shootout and 2-0.         

Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 20-2-0-0 at Prospera Place this season. The team has scored 110 goals (five per game) and has allowed 44 goals against (1.9 per game).  The Rockets have scored at least 3 or more goals in every home game this season except one, when they lost 3-2 to the visiting Kamloops Blazers. The Rockets have scored four or more goals in 16 of their 22 home games. Jordon Cooke and Jackson Whistle have combined for four home ice shutouts this season. The team has allowed two or fewer goals at home this season in 15 of 22 games.

Playing 3 in 3: The Rockets are playing three games in three nights for the 4th time this season. The Rockets are 7 and 2 in those nine games played. The Rockets will play three games in three nights next weekend as well. The Rockets play three games in three nights seven times this season.      

This and That: With 25 games left in the regular season, the Rockets sit in first place in the BC Division with a four  point lead on second place Kamloops…. The Rockets 34 wins this season is three better than their win total from all of last season….Five of the Rockets 10 losses this season have been decided by a single goal… Jordon Cooke was named the WHL Goaltender of the Month for December. Cooke was 6-0-0-0 and posted a goals against average of 2.00. Cooke has won his last 18 games. That is a franchise record. Kelly Guard won 10 straight games – four different times between 2002 and 2004….The Rockets are rated as the 4th best team in Canada according to the CHL Top 10 rankings this week…Since a 3-0 win over the Kamloops Blazers November 1st the Rockets are 25-4-1-0….The Rockets 19 game home ice winning streak is a new team record. The franchise record is held by the Tacoma Rockets, who won 24 straight home games in 1992-93….Dylen McKinlay is  the only Rocket to play in every game this season…The Rockets have led going into the third period in 31 of their last 38 games with two games being tied heading into the final frame.…The Rockets have 32 power play goal in their last 38 games (32 for 130 over that span – 24 %)…..The Rockets have scored 181 goals in their last 39 games (average 4.64)....The Rockets are 20 and 2 after 22 home games this season…Madison Bowey (22), Mitch Wheaton (63) and Myles Bell (87) are rated among the top players by NHL Central Scouting for June’s draft. The mid-season rankings were released by NHLCS on Tuesday. Jackson Whistle is rated (26) among North American goalies…The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 110-44 on home ice this season…The Rockets have scored the second most goals in the WHL (205)….Zach Franko has thirteen more points (52) 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...J.T Barnett has 8+7=15 in 23 games with the Rockets…Colton Sissons has goals in five of his last ten games….Dylen McKinlay has three shorthanded goals….Since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have picked up 661 wins over the last 18 seasons…Since entering the WHL in 1991, the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets have scored 4 thousand 535 goals (4,535)…Zach Franko has 52 points this season. Twenty-eight (28) have been registered on the road with 24 coming on home ice…Jordon Cooke’s 25 wins is one shy of league leader Luke Siemens of the PA Raiders….The Rockets have participated in one shootout game this season. That is a league low, tied with Portland who also has one shootout game. Last season the Rockets were involved in a league high 15…The Rockets have the second most home ice wins in the WHL this season (20). Only Portland has more (21)…Dylen McKinlay leads the team in plus/minus with a +37. That is third best in the entire WHL. That is the highest total for a Rockets player since Jamie Benn was a +32 in 2007-2008. Jesse Schultz was +40 in 2002-2003…Since November 1st the Rockets have lost four times in regulation…Six of the teams ten regulation losses came in the first five weeks of the season.           

Who’s Hot: Myles Bell has 4+5=9 in the month of January…Colton Sissons is riding a four game point streak. Sissons has 2+3=5 over that period… Ryan Olsen has goals in five of his last six games… Zach Franko has 6+5=11 in January, tops among Rockets players…MacKenzie Johnston has 10 points (3+7=10) in his last 8 games.

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A lot of questions....favourable answers

Many questions surrounded the Kelowna Rockets heading into this season. Could they be better on home ice? Could Jordon Cooke fill the huge shoes left by Adam Brown? Was Zach Franko trade bait after a dismal 18 year-old season? Did the young defense have any confidence after taking their fair share of licks last season? Who would the teams 20 year-old's be, and would they be an upgrade from last season?

Lets answer question #1. Could the team improve its home record?

Last season was a struggle with just 18 home ice wins in 36 attempts. When you are playing just over .500 hockey at Prospera Place, few teams entered Kelowna last season with fear in their belly anticipating a rough night. That has taken a 180 degree turn with 20 wins in 22 home games which is the best home record in the WHL. They are again a dominating force at home. 

Question #2. Could Jordon Cooke become a legitimate number one goaltender in the WHL after two seasons backing up Adam Brown?

The answer would be yes. Cooke has set a franchise record with 18 consecutive wins and is tied for the league lead in wins (25). The workload has increased significantly from a season ago, but the save percentage and goals against numbers are as strong as ever. The pressure will be on Cooke to perform in the playoffs, but he's been feeling the heat this season as the #1 goaltender and has answered the bell.

Question #3. Could Zach Franko return to the form that he had in his rookie season?

Last season was dismal to say the least for the then 18 year-old. The Winnipeg resident had lost his confidence and shied away from puck battles and struggled finding the back of the net. Franko has found his game this season though. Now second in team scoring, Franko will always be a better passer than a shooter, but remains an impact player in his 19 year-old season. He is a gifted player and is showing it this season.

Question #4. Could the defensive core take a big jump forward or was their confidence shattered after playing in crucial situations last season?

This group is better after having their feet put to the fire last season. Sixteen year-old's Madison Bowey and Jesse Lees were a part of a d-core that was the youngest in the WHL in 2011-2012. Bowey and Lees were a surprising +6 combined  while 17 year-old Damon Severson was a +5.  Rookie Cole Martin took his lumps and was a -9. This season, those four players are a combined +110. Throw in MacKenzie Johnston, Riley Stadel and Mitch Wheaton and the d-core is combined +164.

Question #5 Who would the Rockets three overage players be and would they be an upgrade from Adam Brown, Cody Chikie and Brett Lyon?

Older players win you hockey games and the Rockets were essentially picking up the scraps from other teams who had a glut of 20 year-old players. The biggest move involved a draft pick for Dylen McKinlay who was acquired from the Kootenay Ice. It was well documented that McKinlay was a good player a few seasons ago with the Chlliwack Bruins but I'm not sure even the organization knew that 'Kins' would produce offensively like he has this season. McKinlay is not without his flaws, all 20 year-old's in this league usually have a few warts, but he plays at a high rate of speed and creates some good scoring chances for his line mates. He is also a threat to score shorthanded.
J.T Barnett and Cody Fowlie were acquired off waivers, again essentially picking up players that the Everett Silvertips nor any other team wanted. Fowlie has been a great teammate and has taken a nice leadeship role while Barnett, who was injured on opening night and returned prior to Christmas, has scored some timely goals and adds even more depth to an already deep team.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rockets set record while rolling on home ice

  • It was reason to celebrate Saturday night at Prospera Place as the Kelowna Rockets broke a team record with their 19th consecutive win on home ice. That eclipses the old mark of 18 straight wins on home ice in 2002-2003. Now this years team can attempt to smash the franchise record of 24 consecutive wins on home ice set by the Tacoma Rockets in 1992-93. 
  • If the Rockets hope to reach the franchise mark they are going to have to do it by going though the Portland Winterhawks. The 24th straight win would have to come against the visiting Winterhawks on February 8th. The record breaker would also have to happen against the Winterhawks one night later. Between then and now the Rockets have home games against Seattle, Prince Albert, Victoria and Vancouver.    
  • During the 19 game winning streak the Rockets have allowed 1.8 goals against per game. 
  • Don't look now, but defensive d-man MacKenzie Johnston has the second most points on the team in the month of January. Johnston has 10 points (3+7=10), one more than leading scorer Myles Bell. Zach Franko leads the way with 11 points.
  • With five games left in the month, Ryan Olsen has a chance to equal are exceed the 8 goals he scored in November. Olsen has five goals in January.
  • 25 games left in the regular season. The Rockets play 14 of those 25 on home ice. 
  • The Rockets have 71 points this season. All of last season the team collected 72 points.
  • With 200 goals scored, the Rockets are just 17 shy of the 217 goals they scored all of last season.  
  • Amazingly, the Rockets still have six more meetings against the Kamloops Blazers.
  • An interesting comment from coach Huska the other night when we were discussing Tyrell Goulbourne's play on the penalty kill. Huska suggested Goulbourne could be the fastest skater on the team. You don't notice it when he is carrying the puck, but watch him in a race for it and see who gets there first.
  • The WHL doesn't keep such a record, but Jordon Cooke's 18 straight wins has to be a new bench mark for goalies. Kenric Exner of the Kamloops Blazers (1998-99) went 24 games without a loss but that included a couple of ties.
  • If everything goes according to plan, the Rockets roster could be entirely healthy when they face the Seattle Thundebirds Thursday night. J.T Barnett and Henrik Nyberg would have to return for that to become a reality. The question now is who do you scratch? Nice problem to have. 
  • The Rockets enter a tough stretch of the schedule. The team will play seven games in the next ten days starting Thursday against the T-Birds. It includes back-to-back three games in three night stretches.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rigby's 'hatty' audio

video
Carter Rigby was instrumental in helping the Kelowna Rockets earn their team record 19th consecutive win on home ice with a 5-3 victory over Vancouver. Rigby had three goals, which is his second hat trick of the season. The 18 year-old scored three times against Everett earlier this season. Rigby is the first Rockets player since Geordie Wudrick in 2010-2011 to score two hat tricks in a season. Wudrick had three-three goal games in his 20 year-old season.     

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Winning 18 straight at home in dramatic fashion


  • My guess is neither coach was overly happy following the Kelowna Rockets 5-3 win over the Spokane Chiefs Wednesday night at Prospera Place. Rockets coach Ryan Huska wouldn’t have been happy with his team surrendering three-third period goals when his team had the game under control at 4-0 while Chiefs bench boss Don Nauchbaur wouldn’t have been pleased with his team’s effort in the opening 40 minutes. At the end of the night the Rockets earned their 18th consecutive home ice winning, tying a team record set by the 2002-2003 WHL championship team.
  • Winning 18 consecutive games at home is no small feat especially when you do it without your leading scorer. Myles Bell watched this one from the sidelines as he served game two of a two game suspension for a hit last Friday against the Tri City Americans. Bell wasn’t the only significant body out of the line up. Madison Bowey was at the CHL-NHL Top Prospects game while Mitch Wheaton and Henrik Nyberg were sidelined with injuries. The Rockets can set a new team record Saturday night when they host the Vancouver Giants.
  • As mentioned, the Rockets had a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes and played a solid game. The forwards were first on pucks and essentially dominated the play over the first two periods limiting Spokane to little zone time and 11 shots towards Jordon Cooke. As mentioned, the Chiefs found their game in the third period thanks to a series of scoring chances off the rush. Leading the charge was newly acquired Alessio Bertaggia who was dangerous in his Spokane debut. The European forward, acquired at the trade deadline from Brandon, had two grade ‘A’ scoring chances in the first period but was shut down by Cooke. In the third, Bertaggia made good on two scoring chances including a long bomb pass he received from Brenden Kichton at the Rockets blue line as he broke in on a breakaway.
  • Cooke was sharp despite the limited shot he faced through the opening two periods. While Bertaggia beat him twice, those key saves early was the reason why the Rockets were able to earn their 32nd win of the season and 19th on home ice in 21 games.
  • Cooke now has won 16 consecutive games, something that’s been lost on the teams excellent performance on home ice.
  • Colton Sissons continues his strong play after being hurt prior to the Christmas break. Sissons and Rourke Chartier each had a goal and an assist in the win. Chartier now has goals in three straight games.     
  • Dylen McKinlay earned an assist, giving him 44 points this season. That is a career high. The 20 year-old, who has exceeded many people’s expectations, had a career high 43 points with the Chilliwack Bruins back in 2009-2010.
  • Cody Fowlie returned to the line up after missing Saturday’s game in Vancouver. While the 20 year-old didn’t find his name on the score sheet, his contribution in so many facets of the game is missed when #18 isn’t in the line up.   
  • With the addition of Bertaggia, the Chiefs are as dangerous as the Victoria Royals are when the playoff start in just over two months. The Chiefs are not pretenders. They are a handful and can play with the best of them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rockets game notes vs. Chiefs


Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play their 45th game of the season tonight against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. This is the second of four meetings between these two teams this season. The Rockets are 0-1-0-0 after a 6-4 loss to the Chiefs back on October 10th. The two teams close out the seasonal series with a game in Spokane Friday before meeting again February 6th at the Spokane Arena. The Rockets look for their 15th win in their last 17 games (14-2-1-0). The Rockets have five regulation losses in their last 34 games (27-5-1-1) with setbacks to Tri City (twice), Edmonton, Seattle and Calgary. The Rockets have won 24 of their last twenty-eight (23-4-1-0) games overall. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a 17 game home ice winning streak. The only two teams to beat the Rockets on home ice this season are Kamloops and Spokane. The Rockets play 14 games in January, with 8 of those on home ice. Overall, the Rockets have points in nine straight games (8-0-1-0), having out-scored the opposition 49-23. The team’s power play over that stretch is running at 31% (12 for 39).  Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Spokane Friday night before hosting Vancouver Saturday.  Five of the Rockets 10 losses this season have been against US based teams.        

This and That: The Rockets 31 wins this season equals their win total from all of last season….Five of the Rockets 10 losses this season have been decided by a single goal… Jordon Cooke has been named the WHL Goaltender of the Month for December. Cooke was 6-0-0-0 and posted a goals against average of 2.00. Cooke has won his last 15 games. No Kelowna Rockets goaltender has ever won 15 straight games. Kelly Guard won 10 straight games – four different times between 2002 and 2004….The Rockets entered the CHL Top 10 rankings last week at number 5….Damon Severson has 3+18=21 in his last 15 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 22-4-1-0….The Rockets are 31-10-2-1 after 44 games this season.…Madison Bowey is taking part in the CHL-NHL Top Prospects game tonight in Halifax.  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 17 game home ice winning streak is 1 win shy of the 18 straight wins in 2002-2003 season…The Tacoma Rockets won 24 straight home games….Dylen McKinlay is  the only Rocket to play in every game this season…The Rockets have led going into the third period in 28 of their last 35 games with two games being tied heading into the final frame.…The Rockets have allowed 18 power play goals against in their last twenty-nine games….The Rockets have 29 power play goal in their last 35 games (29 for 118 over that span – 25 %)…..In the Rockets 31 wins, Myles Bell as earned 50 points (22+28=50). Of the 158 goals scored by the team in those 31 games, Bell has been in on 50 of them …The Rockets have scored 167 goals in their last 36 games (average 4.64)....Ryan Huska recorded his 200th WHL regular season victory November 24th against the visiting Saskatoon Blades…The Rockets are 18 and 2 after 20 home games this season…Madison Bowey (22), Mitch Wheaton (63) and Myles Bell (87) are rated among the top players by NHL Central Scouting for June’s draft. The mid-season rankings were released by NHLCS on Tuesday. Jackson Whistle is rated (26) among North American goalies…The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 100-38 on home ice this season…The Rockets have scored the second most goals in the WHL (191)….Zach Franko has twelve more points (510) 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...J.T Barnett has 8+6=14 in 22 games with the Rockets…Colton Sissons has goals in four of his last seven games….Dylen McKinlay has three shorthanded goals….Since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have picked up 658 wins over the last 18 seasons…Since entering the WHL in 1991, the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets have scored 4 thousand 521 goals (4,521)…Zach Franko has 51 points this season. Twenty-eight (28) have been registered on the road with 23 coming on home ice…Jordon Cooke’s 22 wins is two shy of the league lead…The Rockets have participated in one shootout game this season. Only Portland has played in fewer (zero). Last season the Rockets were involved in a league high 15…The Rockets and Edmonton Oil Kings (18) have the most wins on home ice in the WHL this season…Riley Stadel turns 17 today.     

Focusing on Myles Bell: Myles Bell (27) is two shy of the league lead in goals…Bell has just four of his 27 goals on the power play this season. Of Bell’s 60 points, only 18 have been collected on the power play…Five of Bell’s six-two goal games have been registered at Prospera Place…Of Bell’s 27 goals, 14 have been scored on home ice…Bell has 60 points. Thirty-three (33) of those 60 have been registered on the road.               
 
Who’s Hot: Myles Bell has 9+6=15 in his last eleven games…Colton Sissons has points in 12 of his last 13 games.  Sissons has 6+9=15 over that stretch… Ryan Olsen has 4+12=16 in his last thirteen games… Zach Franko has 7+17=24 in his last sixteen games…..Damon Severson has points in twelve of his last fifteen games (3+18=21.)…Since returning from injury December 27th, MacKenzie Johnston is a +13 in his last nine games.