|Shoot the Breeze Photography|
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets have a 2-0 lead on the Tri City Americans heading into game three of this Western Conference quarter final series. The Rockets have out-scored the Americans 9-0 in the first two games. Game three is tonight with game four tomorrow night again at the Toyota Center. If a game five is necessary, it will be played Friday at Prospera Place. The Rockets are coming off a 3-0 shutout win in game two Saturday night. Jackson Whistle made 30 saves for his second consecutive shutout in the post season. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist while Rodney Southam and Tyson Baillie added singles. The Rockets fired a series high 45 shots on net and were 0 for 4 on the power play. These two teams collided four times during the regular season with the Rockets going 3-1-0-0. The Americans have the bragging rights of being the first team to beat the Rockets with a 5-2 victory on October 18th. It snapped the Rockets 10 game winning streak to start the season. In two games at Prospera Place during the regular season, the Rockets were a 4-0 (October 22nd) and a 7-1 winner (January 14th). In the only other game, in Kennewick, the Rockets earned a 4-1 win. Overall, this is the 6th time these two teams have collided in the playoffs (1996, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015). This is the eighth consecutive appearance in the post season for the Rockets and 19th time in the franchises 20 year history. Since the Christmas break the Rockets are 27-8-2-1.
Playoff series scoring breakdown:
Period: 1 2 3 Total
Rockets: 2 3 4 9
Americans 0 0 0 0
This and That: The difference in scoring between these two teams is significant, but specifically on the blue line. The Rockets had 215 points from defenceman this season while the Americans had 114 points. That is a 101 point difference…Leon Draisaitl has scored in both games in this playoff series…Rockets defenceman Madison Bowey and Americans defender Justin Hamonic has a few things in common. Both were born in Winnipeg. Both played midget hockey for the Winnipeg Wild and both are captains of their respective teams for a second consecutive season…The Rockets are 0 for 7 on the power play in this series…Rodney Southam’s game winning goal in game two was his first career playoff goal….Tyrell Goulbourne has a fighting major in back-to-back playoff seasons. The 21 year-old fought Americans forward Maxwell James in game two and also tangled with former Am’s defenceman Josh Thrower in game five of last year’s opening round playoff series…The Rockets have out-shot the Americans 31-11 in the first period in the first two games of this series…The Rockets won the most road games of any team in the WHL (27)…Nick Merkley and Cole Linaker were the only two players to play in all 72 regular season games this season… The Rockets were held to just one goal seven times this season. Kamloops (road), Seattle (road), Edmonton (road), Calgary (twice – once on road and once at home), Regina (home) and Prince Albert (home) have turned the trick against the highest scoring team in the Western Conference...Justin Kirkland has missed 17 straight games with a LBI…Josh Morrissey is missing his 12th straight game tonight with a LBI…The Rockets are facing a U.S Division team for the seventh time in the last eight playoff series. The only exception was against the Kamloops Blazers in a second round series back in 2013…Tyrell Goulbourne has a team high 37 playoff games under his belt…Madison Bowey has 32 games of playoff experience…The Rockets played in 14 post season games last season …Cole Martin has 31 playoff games on his resume…Rodney Southam was named the Rockets unsung hero of the year at the teams year end awards banquet…The Rockets averaged 41 shots per game in last year’s opening round playoff series against the Americans. In the first two games of this series the team is averaging 37.5 shots on net…In total the Rockets have 317 games of playoff experience in the lineup this evening…Veteran d-man Mitch Wheaton has been cleared to play and could see action.
Rockets 2014-2015 regular season recap: The Rockets finished in first place in the Western Conference with 53 wins and 112 points. The 53 wins and 112 points was the second highest total in franchise history. The team scored 305 goals, the second most in the WHL. The 183 goals allowed were the fewest of any team in the WHL. It was the first time since 2003-2004 that the team led the league with the fewest number of goals. That season they allowed 125 goals against. Nick Merkley led the team in scoring with 20 goals, 70 assists and 90 points. Merkley’s 70 assists were not a franchise record though. Rory McDade had 70 helpers in 2000-2001. Colin Long had 69 in in 2007-2008. Marty Flichel has the franchise record with 79 assists in the 1995-96 season.
Hot to Trot: Jackson Whistle has earned back-to-back shutouts in this series..Nick Merkley has points in seven of his last ten games. The 17 year-old has 4+8=12 over that stretch….Madison Bowey has points in ten of his last fourteen games. Bowey has 4+9=13 over that stretch….Leon Draisaitl has thirty-nine points (14+25=39) in his last twenty-two games.