Friday, September 18, 2020

Doing the 'Dominik Hasek'


The list grows longer:
You can add one or two names to the small list of Kelowna Rockets alumni that have won the Stanley Cup. Jamie Benn and Blake Comeau of the Dallas Stars will face Luke Schenn and the Tampa Bay Lightning for the right to hoist hockey's holy grail over there head. Only five former Rockets have accomplished that feat. Scott Parker did it with Colorado. Duncan Keith with Chicago. Travis Moen in Anaheim. Kim Dillabaugh with the LA Kings (goaltending coach) and Madison Bowey with the Detroit Red Wings. The last Rockets player to compete for the Stanley Cup and fail to win it was Colton Sissons. Sissons and the Nashville Predators were eliminated in 6 games in the 2017 Stanley Cup finals by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Who to cheer for? That's a tough one. Blake Comeau is probably the best story. Now 34, Comeau has never been an elite player at the NHL level. What's impressive is the Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan resident has played 852 regular season games with six different teams. Luke Schenn was left for dead basically two years ago with the fear that his time in the NHL was over when he was playing in the American Hockey League. Schenn, who is 30, understands that his window of winning is closing quickly as a seventh d-man on the Lightning blue-line. One thing Comeau, Schenn and Benn have in common is they also captured gold for Canada at the world juniors. Comeau in 2006. Schenn in 2008 and Benn in 2009.Oh, all three are also on the Rockets 'Wall of Recognition' down by the dressing room.  

Fiddler can't be on the fence. Isn't the answer obvious? The Dallas Stars. The Kelowna Rockets assistant coach, who just completed his first season behind a WHL bench, 'Fids' played five seasons in 'Big D' between 2011 and 2016. Fiddler is very familiar with many of the players on the Stars current roster. As early as two years ago, he was an organizational coach with the Stars, where he assisted with skills and development with Dallas and their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars.

Mohr wants More: Ex-Kelowna Rockets forward Kobe Mohr is among several players involved in class action lawsuit against the NHL/AHL/ECHL/WHL/OHL/QMJHL. It's an 825 million dollar suit alleging 'a conspiracy among the world's top professional and amateur hockey leagues to exploit dreams - chasing teenage player with one-sided contracts containing abusive restrictions on their young careers. Maybe from now on the WHL will have bold print in their 'standard' player contract stipulating that no legal action will be taken against them if the hockey career of the player doesn't materialize the way he/his family/agent had envisioned. Tough wording indeed for the player and his parents to absorb, but disgruntled teenagers who didn't make it are coming out of the woodwork and looking for a payday is becoming common place. Mohr played 9 games with the Kelowna Rockets last season after being acquired off waivers. He was later dealt to the Moose Jaw Warriors in November in a multi-player deal for 20 year-old Jaden Joseph.  

Dialing long distance with Dilly: A wonderful conversation this week with Philadelphia Flyers goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh. It feels like I haven't talked to Dilly in years. Truth is...that's the case. Dillabaugh was the Kelowna Rockets goaltending coach for years before eventually being hired full time by the LA Kings in 2014. He worked with Jonathon Quick and then moved to the Flyers where he is the head goalie coach guiding the likes of up-and-comer Carter Hart. I could talk to Dilly for hours about goaltending. We had a lengthy discussion that will be featured next month on the re-start of 'The Kelowna Rockets This Week'. The show can be heard Saturday's at 6:00 PM on AM 1150. I reached Dillabaugh at his home in New Jersey where he, his wife Bonnie and young daughter and son are keeping safe.

Cookie didn't crumble: I had to ask Dillabaugh about one goaltender he loved to work with during his time with the Kelowna Rockets; Jordon Cooke. "He is one of the most competitive individuals I have had to work with. He is so driven to be the best. I didn't want Jordon Cooke to be a Kelly Guard or Derek Yeomans, I wanted Jordon Cooke to be Jordon Cooke. Everyone is unique. I bring that forth today. I worked with Jonathon Quick and Martin Jones. I don't want Carter Hart, now, to look and play like those guys. Everyone is an individual."        

Shame game: I don't like COVID-19. We all don't like COVID-19. What I don't like about it is the public shaming that goes along with a positive test. If you are exposed and the test comes back positive, there is a certain stigma or shame or guilt attached to it. If I was sick, had symptoms and tested positive, would I want that information becoming public? Let's say I am a WHL head coach and have COVID-19. Can you imagine the headline if that person tested positive and it got out to the media? "First positive test of COVID for CHL coach". Who wants to be attached with that distinction? That's why privacy, specifically if one is in the public eye is paramount.

Ice, Ice Baby: When does the ice go in at Prospera Place? For now, all is quiet. 

Ice Whisperer: His name is Wayne Pansegrau. We in Kelowna know who he is, but for those that don't, he is arguably one of the best ice makers in North America. Pansegrau is known for his work at Prospera Place, but now owns a company called - Top Shelf Arena Services. It has allowed him to work at no less than 20 NHL outdoor games. I spoke to him this week and asked about which one was his favourite. "The first is the most memorable. It was the one in Ann Arbor Michigan in 2014 with over 105 thousand fans there. That will always be my favourite. That one was picturesque. We had a beautiful snowfall on game day, which was heavy to start but during the game it was lite and added a nice effect for the game."    

Masks a mainstay: I saw this week that the Kelowna Rockets souvenir store has re-opened to the general public. 'In The Crease' is a shoppers delight for any fan of the red, black, teal and white. I wonder when Kelowna Rockets logoed face masks will be available? If they are, I am buying one. I see several teams have already purchased some, including the Calgary Hitmen. The Everett Silvertips where taking orders for them back in May. 

Doing the Domink Hasek: Was reminiscing with a buddy last week about Marc Habscheid. It took me back to a memory of when the Kelowna Rockets were on a prairie road trip. The year was 2001-2002. During an off day, 'Habby' and the entire team drove out to Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan (about a 20 minute drive north of Swift Current) for a skate on the small communities antiquated ice surface. It was also Travis Moen's hometown. I played minor hockey in that arena as a kid. It was classic. All wood. No Zamboni and a long stairway that led to the dress rooms. Kids, on skates, would often tumble down the stairwell before going on the ice. Oh, the arena staff - all volunteers - offered the best cheese burgers around, but that's a completely different story. Habscheid was all about team building. On this road trip, he allowed me to bring my goalie gear on the bus so I could suit up with the team for practice. Yep, even the broadcaster was designated as 'a part of the team' back then. So, there I was between the pipes taking wrist and slap shots off my head, arms and chest from the likes of Kiel McLeod and Bart Rushmer. I am not sure that would be allowed today with liability issues, but Habscheid was all about inclusivity. (Inclusivity: the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.) I remember the practice ending with a scrimmage with everyone out on the ice, including the coaches. It was a mad scramble, but man was it fun. Habscheid was cherry picking at the blue-line and received a pass and went in alone with me in goal. I couldn't let the coach score could I? Habscheid, who still possessed slick hands, made a nice move to the backhand. My only recourse was to do my best Dominik Hasek imitation by doing a cart wheel in the crease to keep it out. If memory serves me correct, the puck went off the goal post and into the far corner. Habscheid's story many differ, but I am not changing the outcome. Marc Habscheid is credited with changing the culture of the franchise during his time in Kelowna. I would suggest this is another reason why, by allowing the radio guy to be included.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Doesn't feel like fall - yet!



Somebody's Watching Me:
You have to think WHL governors will be watching the QMJHL very closely as they open the season October 1st. The 'Q' is playing two months before the WHL and the OHL, who hope to drop the puck for real on December 4th. Cases of COVID have been high in Quebec but not so much in the Maritimes. The Maritime based teams will have fans. Those situated in Quebec will not. One advantage the QMJHL has over the WHL is no American based teams. The WHL has five! But again, will the pandemic put an abrupt end to the start of the season out east? The WHL will be watching with interest.

Schools In: Those WHL movers and shakers will also be watching closely the back to school COVID numbers. A massive jump in cases means bad news for junior hockey. A slight increase and we've got as chance to drop the puck in early December as planned. 

Trades will have to wait: If the WHL is able to start the season on December 4th, will the trade deadline be pushed ahead...or is the right terminology - back? Typically held January 11th, you would have to think it will move to sometime in March to allow the wheat to be separated from the chaff on who the contenders are and who the pretenders will be.

I'm not Josh'n: It is nice to see Josh Gorges back in the game on some level. A smart hockey mind with leadership qualities coming out of his pores, Gorges has joined former teammate Simon Ferguson with the West Kelowna Warriors. Ferguson is the head coach. Gorges is the teams director of player development. Gorges did spend time with the Rockets organization two years ago, as an eye in the sky at home games, yet we didn't see the 36 year-old helping out Adam Foote's coaching staff when the 2019-2020 season started. You'd think he would have provided a helping hand in a pivotal season for the franchise as Memorial Cup hosts. Maybe it was a case of too many cooks in the kitchen.

Look at Luke: Still some solid Kelowna Rockets content in the NHL playoffs. While Tyler Myers and Alex Edler have left the bubble after the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the NHL playoffs, three alumni are still chasing the Stanley Cup. Blake Comeau and Jamie Benn are with the Dallas Stars while Luke Schenn is with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Schenn has a four month old and a three year-old child. If you don't think these NHL players aren't sacrificing, you are crazy. 

Two of a Kind: If Luke Schenn wins the Stanley Cup with the Lightning, it will come a season after his brother Brayden did it with the St. Louis Blues. It begs the question, when was the last time brothers won Stanley Cup titles in back-to-back seasons?  I took the photo above with the Schenn boys in the first meeting between the siblings at Prospera Place. 

Deep Thoughts: COVID-19 has changed all of our lives. While it has impacted many negatively, it's allowed me to slow down and re-evaluate my life and where I'm at. I think it's given me a better perspective of what I do professionally and brought into focus what really matters. My sense is many people, specifically my colleagues, are really struggling now. Not all, but some. I am blessed to be employed, but I still have empathy for those that are without work with the hockey season on hold. Many who are employed by 'the team' are wondering what the future holds. I work for the radio station and am not on the Kelowna Rockets pay role. While its hard for me to relate to the struggles many are going through, I look at it this way. Do any of my colleagues struggle with a loss of a father? That one individual who was always there to celebrate your victories and discuss your losses in life? The loss of my dad was a traumatic event in my life. Some will relate, others can't. That's fine. Just because they can't connect with my circumstances and I to there's doesn't mean we can't have empathy for each other.  
  
Scared of Needles? Am I an anti vaxxer? No. That said, I have avoided the flu shot for years after getting it and becoming really sick. With COVID-19 lurking, I may consider getting one if it keeps the flu away and prevents me from visiting a local hospital for those that may need it if they come down with the pandemic. Cases are expected to skyrocket this fall. Right now, I am on the fence. BC Public Health Officer Doctor Bonnie Henry says we should get one. But didn't she also tells us to avoid large crowds? That seemed to fall on deaf ears for many of us.       

Kole and the Canucks: Kole Lind has one objective in mind. Crack the Vancouver Canucks roster next season. Lind watched with interest the Canucks impressive playoff run, which ended in a seven game series loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. "I think they got a lot of momentum early after beating Minnesota and obviously there top guys came to play. They are a really fun team to watch and they battled through a lot of adversity throughout the whole playoffs and they did well." Lind is spending the summer skating in Saskatoon. "I train at a gym called Next Level Training with a couple of other pro guys. It is getting a lot busier now (training). I took a break after camp, but now I am going onto the ice four or five times a week", Lind added. This past season, the 21 year-old picked up 44 points in 61 games with the American Hockey League's Utica Comets. I spoke to Lind earlier this week.

The show must go on! At AM 1150, while broadcasting junior hockey isn't in the cards in the near future, that isn't stopping us from promoting our favourite team. We will again be bringing you a new season of 'The Kelowna Rockets This Week' heard Saturday's at 6 pm. My hope is also for the resurrection of 'The Rockets Report', which is a daily - Monday through Friday - feature that can be heard at 7:10 am. That will be an easy slot to fill as we talk to the current coaches and players on how they dealt with the pandemic and how they are trying to prepare for the upcoming season. All of that gets rolling next month.   

Kelly O's: Goodbye Kelly McCrimmon. It is hard to believe the WHL heavyweight has sold the franchise to a new owner. What a great run. What a great asset for our league. I've been a fan of Kelly for years. All class. A good example?  At my mothers funeral in 2008, at the front of the church at the memorial service, was a banquet of flowers. It read: 'Sorry for your loss. Brandon Wheat Kings Hockey Club'. What does that say about Kelly and his crew? Top shelf.    

The Mayor: It was nice to run into the mayor of Prince George, Al Bristowe, when he and his family made a stop in the Okanagan last week. I appreciated the phone call and the chance to catch up for some nachos and drinks at the Train Station Pub. Ok, Bristowe isn't the mayor, but is connected in the community for all the great work he did when PG hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2015.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Long time - no blog!

Long time, no talk: Hey kids. A long time between personal entries on my space on the 
interweb. 
Do I have a good excuse? I think I do. Can I blame COVID-19? Partially. It took the wind out of my sails much like it did for many around me. Compound that with my father's death February 18th, I was pretty much tapped out and in survival mode. Once the playoffs were cancelled and the Memorial Cup in May was sent to the recycle bin, it was all about keeping my head above water and dealing with life while making the best of turbulence around me. No, I was never in deep depression from the turmoil, but I was extremely worried about how this unknown virus was going to impact my life and those closest to me - long term. While its six months since my dad passed away, I am so grateful that he didn't have to experience this crazy time and being unable to see an elderly loved one face-to-face. For those that face this dilemma, my heart goes out to you. 

Managing COVID stress: We all manage stress in different ways. Some eat more. Others look to alcohol to cope. I've always found exercise to be my best friend. During the height of COVID, I was forced to use my garage as a way of blowing off steam. While I prefer the gym, I made the transition smoother than I thought with the use of an exercise band, which I swear I would never use. With no free weights, it's the only space saving option and honestly I've really enjoyed it. With a treadmill already in my house, I am able to get a good sweat going and I've enlisted winter tires and a fence bar to mimic the bench press. Will I eventually go back to the gym? Sure, but once we get a better grasp on the number of cases locally and the medical community gets a better handle on what the virus can and can not do. For me, being in an enclosed area with other gym enthusiasts who are breathing hard isn't safe enough. I will stick with my home gym in a garage that features the smell of my teenage boy's dirt bikes. 

Lost picks but ability to recoup assets: In reflecting back on the 2020 Memorial Cup being cancelled in May, my heart goes out to the organizers that put their heart and soul into making the event a huge success. Kelowna is spectacular at any time and it would have showed off how sexy she is by hosting the prestigious event. I also feel for the Rockets organization that had to mortgage the future to build a contending host team. A lot of first round bantam draft picks were paid to acquire Matthew Wedman, Connor McDonald and Dillon Hamaliuk, in a trade in May, 2019 with Seattle that also included Jake Lee and Cole Schwebius. In the future, that is no first round pick in 2021, 2022 and 2023. That said, will the team deal off an asset in the near future to recoup one of those 1st round picks? My feeling is they will. 

Kelowna's dream isn't over: With the Memorial Cup in Kelowna now a distant memory, will 'we' get it back in 2023 when the WHL hosts again? My belief is it will happen, with hard charging Kamloops and likely Victoria throwing their hat into the bidding ring. Remember, Victoria pulled out of the bidding for the 2020 tournament and Kamloops still hasn't gotten over why they weren't chosen over Kelowna. Its a deep wound that won't heal.

Let's not forget: Kelowna was awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup in October of 2018. The season prior, the Rockets had 43 wins. Kamloops had 30 victories and 28 fewer points. While Kamloops wants to lean on the fact they were built for a better team than Kelowna come 2020, those voting likely looked at recent success where, clearly at the time, the Rockets had a better team statistically. Were the Blazers better than the Rockets going into the 2020 tournament? 22 points better.

Dube doesn't look much different: Everyone is going gaga over Dillon Dube's beard. Sure its mightily impressive, but heck, he had it going on when he was 16. The photo on the right is proof from his time with the Kelowna Rockets in the 2015 Memorial Cup in Quebec City. Dube is a hairy freak!!!

Can we squeeze in 68 in 5 months? So we are playing again in December are we? December 4th to be exact. League governors want to play a full 68 game schedule, but that will be tough to accomplish with the loss of two months of the schedule that typically starts in late September. If you look at the Rockets 2019-2020 season, the team played 25 games from September 21st to the end of November. You can shorten the Christmas break by a few days, but it will be awfully hard to squeeze in those games over such a small window. Extending the regular season is likely in the cards, meaning playoffs won't start until late April, with the format looking significantly different with the possibility of shorter opening round playoff series. I know that brains much smarter than mine have it all figured it, but it is fun to speculate on what they possibly will do.

No hockey in the fall? It's been 25 years since I've entered the turning of the calendar to September with no hockey on the horizon. It was 1994, a year prior to being granted the opportunity to be the radio voice of the Swift Current Broncos where I was afforded that luxury. In late August, my schedule has always included rookie camp and the start of pre-season in early September. That won't be the case this year. The adjustment to a 'new normal' will be a strange one. I can only imagine how mind boggling it will be for the players and coaches.

Right decision: I applaud the WHL higher-ups for backing the season off until early December. When it was originally announced that early October would be the start of the regular season, I just couldn't see it happening. This COVID-thing has turned our lives upside down and still too many questions remain with the closure of the Canada-US border until late September. 

Wash your hands: If and when we re-start, players are going to have to go through a course known as HYGIENE 101. Trust me, I am a father of 17 year-old twin boys. They are a mess. They are the last to wash there hands. They are the first to openly cough rather than doing it in their sleeve. I have been traveling on junior buses for 25 years and players are loose in their hygiene practices. An open bag of chips where hands are dipping in and out of the bag will have to be off limits. Sharing homemade cookies made by a billet or mom will be a no-no. These players will need to be reminded time and time again to wash hands, don't share food and essentially be a germaphobe, or mimic one, until a vaccine is found. 

No horse in the race: With the NHL playoffs in full swing, I too was watching with interest on how things would unfold. So far, the play on the ice has been terrific considering the long layoff and the radio announcers, or any announcer that was forced to call games on a monitor in a radio studio, as opposed to being at the area, deserve much credit. With no team to cheer for with Edmonton going down in a five game series to Chicago, my focus is on supporting all the Canadian teams that remain live. That means the Canucks, Flames and Canadiens get my full support now that the Oilers, Jets and Leafs have been turfed from the bubble.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ready to play October 2nd

The WHL is a ticket driven league.

Commissioner Ron Robison made that perfectly clear today when he spoke to the media.

"In the event that we can't get to a certain spectator level that will allow our teams to operate, we will not be in a position to start play."   

Robison says that 'spectator level' has to be at 50 percent capacity at a minimum.

The league plans to open the 2020-2021 season October 2nd.

"We might have a completely different looking schedule than we traditionally have. Would more divisional play be something we are considering? Absolutely.

The WHL will not be testing its players for COVID-19 unless health officials deem it necessary and they have not asked for player exemptions to cross the Canada/US border.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hard to handle forward picks up hardware

Matthew Wedman - Shoot the Breeze Photography
Not even the COVID-19 epidemic could stop the Kelowna Rockets from handing out their season ending awards on Sunday. Nope, no one attended the formal gathering typically held at the Kelowna Community Theatre during a mild afternoon in March. MC Bill Barnes didn't have to tell a single joke. Forward Nolan Foote didn't have to prepare a captain's speech. The three 20 year-old players didn't have the traditional sendoff where GM Bruce Hamilton presents the trio with a framed series of photos encapsulating their time wearing Rockets colours. Instead the team went to Twitter, announcing the winners of the team awards from a regular season that had so many story lines.
It seemed only fitting that the biggest trade the team pulled off this season had that individual taking away the most significant hardware.
Despite a small sample size, Matthew Wedman made a huge impact when the 20 year-old picked up two awards for essentially four months (35 games) of service. Acquired in early December from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a 1st round draft pick in 2023, a second round selection in 2022 and a 5th rounder in 2020, the former 40 goal man was named the MVP. Wedman, a 7th round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers this past June, was worth his weight in gold. The plan, initially, was for him to play in the middle and flourish with winger Nolan Foote. The two played essentially two games together. Two! But that didn't stop the pride of Edmonton from taking home the most prestigious award while being named the top defensive forward with a +5 rating. Wedman not only played against the other teams top unit, he was also burdened with putting up points, but the big burly forward delivered in spades. With 17 goals and 36 points, Wedman really took off on January 24th, oddly enough against his old team, the Seattle Thunderbirds. From that point until the end of the season, the 6'3, 209 pound powerhouse scored 13 goals in 16 games. As the games became harder. As the weight became heavier, Wedman showed signs of domination. Don't be fooled, he has little flash and dash in his game, but like a bull in a china shop, anywhere four feet from the net and in, you were in 'Wedman's World'.

Other winners:

Kaedan Korczak picked up the Top Defenceman award for a second consecutive season. The 19 year-old set career highs in goals, assists and points. Outside of Wedman, no Rockets player shot the puck more than Korczak, who was chosen in the second round of last summer's NHL draft by the Vegas Golden Knights. Korczak had to play without Lassi Thomson. It forced him to elevate his offensive game, shutdown the top forwards from the opposition, and with the loss of 19 year-old Sean Comrie to a shoulder injury, log a ton of ice time. I'd argue no player on the Rockets roster chewed up more minutes than Korczak, who could have pouted when he was not named to the leadership group at any point in the season. The pride of Yorkton just put his head down and played hard. His best body of work, in my opinion, was during the Eastern Division road trip prior to Christmas where he was routinely one of the best players on the ice.

Pavel Novak was named the Rookie of the Year and Top Scorer. I had no idea that the 17 year-old would make as smooth a transition to the North American game as he did. My expectations were low when I first saw him play. Many from overseas, in year one, typically fail. Novak was the exception to the rule. The defining moment that the Rockets had a special player on their hands came when he scored three times in a game against Prince George on November 1st. A gifted player in a small package, Novak's longest goal scoring drought of the season was just six games. In the end the 5'10, 170 pound 'lean machine' found the back of the net 25 times. Making the adjustment to a new city, in a new country and to a smaller ice surface where body contact is at a heightened level would paralyze many. Novak becoming the first European born player to lead the team in scoring since Vaclav Varada did it way back in 1994-95 with the Tacoma Rockets.

Devin Steffer was named the Sportsmanlike Player of the Year.
Michael Farren was the Humanitarian Player of the Year.
Elias CarMichael was the Most Improved Player.
Conner McDonald was the Plus/Minus winner.
Jake Poole picked up the Scholastic Player of the Year.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Tip drill!!





  • Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets close out the month of February with a home and home series with the Everett Silvertips. The game tonight is the third of four meetings between these two teams, which close out the seasonal series tomorrow night in Everett. The Rockets are 1-1-0-0 against the Tips, with a 5-1 win back on September 28th and a 3-2 loss on January 17th. The home team has won both games, with the Rockets out-scoring the Tips 7-4. The Rockets are coming off a highly successful four game road trip where the team went 3-0-0-1, out-scoring their opponent 16-14. All four wins were decided by a single goal. Following tonight’s game, the Rockets visit the Tips tomorrow night before opening the month of March with a three game home stand against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, a team that trails them by only 6 points
  • Mally the Man! Kris Mallette was named the interim head coach of the Kelowna Rockets last Wednesday. Mallette replaces Adam Foote, who was relieved of his duties. Mallette joined the organization as an assistant coach for the start of the 2014 season under then head coach Dan Lambert. Mallette is a former player, suiting up for the Rockets from 1996 until 1998 before eventually being traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors. The 41 year-old is the first Rockets alumni to assume the head coaching duties and is joined by former Rockets forward Vernon Fiddler as an assistant.
  • Who’s Hot: Pavel Novak has points in 8 of his last 9 games (4+12=16)…Matthew Wedman has points in 7 of his last 8 games (7+7=14)…..Dillon Hamaliuk is riding a five game point streak (5+5=10)…Kyle Topping has 2+3=5 in his last three games….Roman Basran has started in 7 of the last 8 games.
  • Broadcasters Notebook: A win tonight will match the Rockets win total (28) from all of last season…The Rockets have 15 road wins, one better than the 14 they captured one season ago….The Rockets have played the most road games in the WHL (31)….The Rockets have 12 home ice wins. The team had 14 all of last season….Kris Mallette is 9-0-1-1 as a head coach in the WHL.…With 10 games left in the regular season, 7 are on home ice with only 3 on the road. Those road stops include singles in Everett, Kamloops and Vancouver… The Rockets are 9-8-0-0 against teams in the US Division….The Rockets are now 19-5-1-0 when scoring the games first goal…The Rockets have played in 32-1 goal games this season…The Rockets are 12-14-1-1 against teams in the BC Division…The Rockets were 5-5-0-0 in December and 4-9-0-0 in January.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

New coach...new result?

Kris Mallette
·      Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open a four game road trip against the Victoria Royals. This is the 7th of 9 meetings between these two teams this season. After playing tomorrow night in the rematch, the seasonal series wraps up March 11th in Kelowna. The Rockets are 2-3-0-1 in the opening 6 games, including a 1-0-0-1 record in Victoria after a 4-3 shootout loss on October 29th followed by a 1-0 shutout win October 30th. Four of the six have been decided by a single goal. Overall, the Royals have out-scored the Rockets 14-12. Kaedan Korczak leads the Rockets with 2+3=5 in the 6 games. Roman Basran has appeared in 5 of the 6 games. Following these two games on the Island, the Rockets are in Prince George for back-to-back games this Tuesday and Wednesday. The Rockets next home game is Friday February 28th against Everett.
·         Mally the Man! Kris Mallette was named the interim head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday. Mallette replaces Adam Foote, who was relieved of his duties. Mallette joined the organization as an assistant coach for the start of the 2014 season under then head coach Dan Lambert. Mallette is a former player, suiting up for the Rockets from 1996 until 1998 before eventually being traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors. The 41 year-old is the first Rockets alumni to assume the head coaching duties.
·         Who’s Hot: Pavel Novak has 3+8=11 in his last 7 games…Matthew Wedman has 7+11=18 in his last 14 games…Kyle Topping has 4+4=8 in his last 7 games…Kaedan Korczak has 2+5=7 in his last 7 games.
·         Broadcasters Notebook: Kris Mallette is 6-0-1-0 as a head coach in the WHL. His most recent win was a 7-3 victory in Tri City in January….The Rockets are 8-4-1-1 in their last 14 visits to Victoria…. The Rockets have surrendered the opening goal in seven of the last eight games ….With 14 games left in the regular season, 7 are on home ice with only 7 on the road. Those road stops include two in Victoria, two in Prince George and singles in Everett, Kamloops and Vancouver… The Rockets are 9-8-0-0 against teams in the US Division….The Rockets are now 19-5-1-0 when scoring the games first goal…The Rockets have played in 28-1 goal games this season…The Rockets are 10-14-1-1 against teams in the BC Division…The Rockets were 5-5-0-0 in December and 4-9-0-0 in January.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Rockets get captain back

Captain Nolan Foote returns to the lineup Saturday

·        Tonight’s Preview: Two former NHL players meet tonight when Adam Foote’s Kelowna Rockets face Brent Sutter’s Red Deer Rebels. Both head coaches played over one thousand games at the NHL level, with Foote playing 1,154 games and Sutter suiting up for 1,111 contests. Both won two Stanley Cup titles. This is the lone meeting of the season between these two teams. Last season, the Rockets went into Red Deer on November 16/2018 and lost 7-0. Red Deer made two appearances at Prospera Place in the 2017-2018 season, with the Rockets winning 5-2 before suffering a 4-1 setback. The Rockets are playing game four of a five game home stand. Wednesday night, the team snapped a five game losing streak with an 8-3 win over the Tri City Americans. Pavel Novak had 1+4=5 while Matthew Wedman scored three times. The Calgary Hitmen pay a visits Monday for a 2 pm affair.
·        Who’s Hot: Pavel Novak has 2+8=10 in his last five games…Matthew Wedman has 6+9=15 in his last 12 games…Kyle Topping has 4+4=8 in his last 5 games.
·        Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets have surrendered the opening goal in six straight games….The Rockets are 1-1-0-1 in three games against teams in the Central Division. That one win came against the Swift Current Broncos (3-2 OTW October 16, 2019). The one regulation loss came to the Medicine Hat Tigers (8-5 L November 8, 2019)….Matthew Wedman hits a milestone tonight. The 20 year-old plays in his 300th career game….Tyson Feist plays in his 100th career game tonight after breaking into the league with the Spokane Chiefs before eventually being dealt to the Regina Pats….With 16 games left in the regular season, 9 are on home ice with only 7 on the road. Those road stops include two in Victoria, two in Prince George and singles in Everett, Kamloops and Vancouver…After returning for one game after playing for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship, Nolan Foote has missed 12 straight games with an injury. The Rockets are 9 and 16 in 25 games without him this season.…..The Rockets are 9-8-0-0 against teams in the US Division….The Rockets are now 19-5-0-0 when scoring the games first goal…The Rockets have played in 24-1 goal games this season, the most in the WHL…The Rockets are 10-14-1-1 against teams in the BC Division…The Rockets were 5-5-0-0 in December and 4-9-0-0 in January….Name the defenceman that played for the Rockets this season and the Rebels last season? The answer - Carsen Sass of the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Rockets vs. Americans


·       Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets play game three of a five game home stand tonight against the visiting Tri City Americans. This is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams. The Rockets are 3-0-0-0, having out-scored the Americans 15-5. Pavel Novak has 3+3=6 in the three games while Nolan Foote, Dillon Hamaliuk and Matthew Wedman each have 5 points. Roman Basran is 2-0-0-0 in the seasonal series, posting a goals against average of 1.00. The Rockets enter tonight’s game having lost five straight after back-to-back losses last weekend to the Portland Winterhawks. The Rockets welcome Red Deer Saturday. The Calgary Hitmen pay a visits Monday for a 2 pm affair. Overall, the Rockets have lost 11 of their last 13 games. The team has 3 wins in its last 12 games at Prospera Place.
·         Broadcasters Notebook: Welcome back Jaedan Joseph. The 20 year-old played 16 games with the Rockets earlier this season after being acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Joseph collected 1+5=6 in those 16 games before being dealt to the Americans January 9th for a 6th round WHL bantam pick…With 17 games left in the regular season, 10 are on home ice with only 7 on the road. Those road stops include two in Victoria, two in Prince George and singles in Everett, Kamloops and Vancouver…After returning for one game after playing for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship, Nolan Foote has missed 11 straight games with an injury. The Rockets are 8 and 16 in 24 games without him this season.…..The Rockets are 8-8-0-0 against teams in the US Division….The Rockets are now 19-5-0-0 when scoring the games first goal…The Rockets have played in 24-1 goal games this season, the most in the WHL…The Rockets are 10-14-1-1 against teams in the BC Division…The Rockets are 6 and 1 in overtime with game winning goals coming from Matthew Wedman, Dillon Hamaliuk, Nolan Foote, Kaedan Korczak (twice) and Liam Kindree…..Jake Lee is one point shy of the 24 he recorded last season with Seattle…Alex Swetlikoff is the only player on the roster that has a chance to dress in all 68 games this season…Kaedan Korczak has a shot on goal in all but one games this season…..The Rockets were 5-5-0-0 in December and 4-9-0-0 in January…During a five game losing streak, the Rockets have been out-scored 24-9….Matthew Wedman will play in his 300th regular season game Saturday against Red Deer….Kyle Topping’s two goal game Saturday was his 7th multiple goal game of his career

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Rockets return to face Chiefs

Pavel Novak - Shoot the Breeze photo

·       Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets host the Spokane Chiefs in a weekend home and home series. The two teams meet tomorrow in Spokane. This is the third meeting of the season between the two teams. On opening night the Rockets were a 4-3 overtime winner. Dillon Hamaliuk scored the game winning goal. Back on November 9th, the Chiefs were a 6-1 winner. The Chiefs fired 55 shots on goal. Mark Liwiski opened the scoring before the Chiefs scored 6 straight. Tonight’s game marks the return of ex-Rocket Leif Mattson to Prospera Place. The 20 year-old was dealt to the Chiefs December 5th for a 2020 3rd round WHL bantam pick. Mattson played 203 games with the Rockets after being acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings on October 6, 2016 for a 9th round pick. Mattson was the Rockets Humanitarian award winner last season.
·         Broadcasters Notebook: Pavel Novak is trying to do something one other European born player has accomplished with the organization. Novak leads the team in points. Vaclav Varada tied for team lead in points (88) with Tacoma in 1994-95…After returning for one game after playing for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship, Nolan Foote has missed 7 straight games with an injury. The Rockets are 8 and 12 in 20 games without him this season. Foote did not play against the Chiefs in the season opener as his was still with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning….The Rockets are playing their 48th game of the season tonight, meaning only 20 games remain…The team has 13 home games left and only 7 on the road…..The Rockets are 8-4-0-0 against teams in the US Division….The Rockets are now 19-5-0-0 when scoring the games first goal…The Rockets have played in 24-1 goal games this season, the most in the WHL…The Rockets are 10-14-1-1 against teams in the BC Division…The Rockets are 6 and 1 in overtime with game winning goals coming from Matthew Wedman, Dillon Hamaliuk, Nolan Foote, Kaedan Korczak (twice) and Liam Kindree….Head Coach Adam Foote coached in his 100th game last Sunday against the Vancouver Giants.
·         Milestone Makers: Rockets 20 year-old Matthew Wedman is playing in his 298th game tonight. Nolan Foote is 5 games shy of 200 for his career. Defenceman Kaedan Korczak is one point shy of a career high in points. The 18 year-old has 33 points heading into tonight’s game…Jake Lee is one point shy of the career high 24 points he put up last season in Seattle…Goaltender Roman Basran is three appearances shy of 100 for his career.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

He's back!


·      Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play their 39th game of the season when they host the Victoria Royals. These two teams met last Friday, with the Royals earning a 2-1 win. This is the 6th meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rockets are 2-2-0-1 in the opening five games, having been out-scored 13-12 in the process. The Rockets have a one point lead on the Royals for second place in the BC Division, with Victoria holding two games in hand. The Rockets are riding a two game winning streak after a 3-2 shootout win Saturday over Vancouver followed by a 7-3 win in Tri City on Sunday. Following tonight’s game, the Rockets are in Kamloops Friday before hosting the Blazers Saturday night.
·         
     The Golden Guy: Nolan Foote will be recognized before tonight’s game after helping Canada win gold at the World Junior Hockey Championships. The Rockets captain scored three goals in the tournament and became the 10th player in the organizations history to win gold at the prestigious event. On that list is Blake Comeau, Luke Schenn, Shea Weber, Jamie Benn, Tyler Myers, Madison Bowey, Josh Morrissey, Dillon Dube and Cal Foote.
·         Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets were 5-6-0-0 while Nolan Foote was at the World Junior Hockey Championships….Nolan Foote has 5 goals in his last 5 games…Pavel Novak has 30 in 30. The rookie forward has 30 points in his first 30 games of his WHL career …Matthew Wedman had four assists Sunday in Tri City. Wedman’s only other four point game came as a member of the Seattle Thunderbirds back on December 17, 2017 against Spokane (1+3=4)…The Rockets will play three games in three nights three times this month. They do it again January 17-19 before doing it again January 24-26…The Rockets have played in 21-1 goal games this season, the most (tied with Everett) in the WHL.
·         Digg’n Deep: The Rockets are 17-3 when opening the scoring….The Rockets are 9-10-1-1 against teams in the BC Division…The Rockets are 4 and 1 in overtime with game winning goals coming from Dillon Hamaliuk, Nolan Foote, Kaedan Korczak and Liam Kindree….Head Coach Adam Foote is closing in on a milestone. Foote will coach in his 100th game January 26th, at home, vs. Vancouver….Dillon Hamaliuk’s goal Sunday was his first in 9 games…Connor McDonald is 5 assists shy of 100 for his career…Liam Kindree has 4+1=5 in his last five games.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Giant undertaking


·       Tonight’s Preview: The third and fourth place teams in the BC Division meet tonight as the Kelowna Rockets host the Vancouver Giants. The Rockets hold a slim four point lead the G-Men for third place in the division. This is the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rockets are 0-3-0-0, having lost by scores of 4-0, 4-3 and most recently 6-2. Overall, the Rockets have been out-scored 14-5 in the seasonal series. Connor McDonald leads the team with 3 assists in two games. The Rockets power play is just 1 for 15 (6.7%) against Vancouver. The Rockets are coming off a 2-1 loss last night to the Victoria Royals. Kaedan Korczak had the lone goal. The Rockets are playing three games in three nights for the second time this season. The team is in Tri City on Sunday (4:05 pm). Back in late September the Rockets played three games in three nights, losing in overtime in Kamloops (3-2), beating Everett at home (5-1) before losing (4-0) in Vancouver.    
·        Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets will play three games in three nights three times this month. They do it again January 17th, 18th and 19th before doing it again January 24th, 25th and 26th …Liam Kindree has three goals in his last four games….Nolan Foote is playing for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, becoming the 18th player in the organization to do so…12 of the Rockets last 15 games have been decided by one goal…The Rockets have played in 20-1 goal games this season, the most in the WHL…The Rockets have played in a Western Conference high 20 road games. 
·        Digg’n Deep: The Rockets are playing their 6th straight game against a team based in the BC Division. The Rockets are 1-4-0-0 in the five games….Kaedan Korczak has goals in back-to-back games. The 18 year-old has 7 goals this season in 36 games. It took him 140 career games to score 7 goals heading into this season…Roman Basran has started in 6 of the teams last 7 games….The Rockets are 8-10-1-1 against teams in the BC Division…The Rockets are 4 and 1 in overtime with game winning goals coming from Dillon Hamaliuk, Nolan Foote, Kaedan Korczak and Liam Kindree….Head Coach Adam Foote is closing in on a milestone. Foote will coach in his 100th game January 25th, on the road, in Vancouver (Langley)….Dillon Hamaliuk plays in his 150th WHL game this evening…Connor McDonald is 5 assists shy of 100 for his career.


Friday, December 27, 2019

Rockets open unofficial second half vs. Blazers

Devin Steffler - Shoot the Breeze Photo

·     Tonight’s Preview: Welcome back to the unofficial second half of the season for the Kelowna Rockets. The team has played 32 games to this point, sporting a record of 18-11-1-2. That is good for second place in the BC Division, 6 points back of first place Kamloops in the BC Division (Rockets have one game in hand) and three points up on third place Victoria (Royals have one game in hand). The Rockets face the Kamloops Blazers tonight in the 6th time this season. The Rockets are just 1-3-1-0 in the five previous games, with three of them decided by a single goal including a 4-3 win back on November 16th.  The Rockets are in a portion of their schedule playing 6 consecutive home games against teams in the BC Division. After tonight’s game, the team is in Vancouver (Langley) tomorrow night before welcoming Prince George Monday (7 P.M) December 30th.   
·         Senior Citizens Settle in:  The two newest members of the team made their home debuts before the Christmas break. Matthew Wedman, acquired in a trade with Seattle December 5th, showcased his talents in front of the home town faithful on December 18th. The 20 year-old led the T-Birds in scoring last season with 40+37=77 and played 275 games in a Seattle uniform. Twenty year-old d-man Conner McDonald also made his debut December 18th with three assists in a 4-3 loss to visiting Vancouver. McDonald was obtained from the Edmonton Oil Kings Saturday night. McDonald scored 19 goals back on the blue-line last season, which was the second highest total only behind Giants rearguard Bowen Byram.   
·         The Price is Right: The Rockets also completed a trade with the Moose Jaw Warriors November 24th by acquiring 20 year-old Jadon Joseph. Joseph was a member of the Vancouver Giants last season that went all the way to the WHL final. Joseph has 58 games of playoff experience under his belt, the most on the Rockets roster.     
·         Broadcasters Notebook: Nolan Foote is playing for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, becoming the 18th player in the organization to do so….10 of the Rockets last 11 games have been decided by one goal…The Rockets have played in 18-1 goal games this season, the most in the WHL…. Roman Basran was named the WHL Eli Wilson goaltender of the week in back-to-back weeks ending December 1st…Nolan Foote was named the 25th captain in franchise history (Tacoma/Kelowna) October 18th…The Rockets have played in a Western Conference high 19 road games.