Tonight’s Preview: This is the second meeting of the season between the Rockets and Cougars. The Rockets are 1-0-0-0 after an 8-1 win over the Cougars back on October 11th. The Rockets out-shot the Cougars 45-12 in that game with Colin Long (2+1=3), Kyle St. Denis (1+2=3) and Tyson Barrie (1+2=3) leading the attack. Brandon McMillan had 3 assists, while Jamie Benn had two goals and a fight with Cougars defenseman Cody Hobbs. Adam Brown earned the win in goal. Last season the Rockets were 4-0-0-0 in Prince George, outscoring the Cougars 27-5. The Rockets were winners by scores of 5-1, 6-1, 11-1 and 5-2 in their four visits to CN Centre. The Rockets last loss in Prince George was March 3/07 in a 7-4 setback. The Rockets are coming off a 3-1 win over the Tri City Americans Wednesday. Evan Bloodoff broke a 1-1 tie with over 5 minutes left in the third period before Cody Almond would score an empty netter to give the Rockets their 14th win of the season, and second straight. Following this weekend’s games against the Cougars, the Rockets open a five game home stand with two games against Chilliwack and single games against Saskatoon, Regina and Swift Current.
Statistically Speaking: Rockets forward Jamie Benn has 21 goals this season, the most of any player in the Canadian Hockey League. Matthew Pistilli of Shawinigan (QMJHL) is a close second with 20 goals in 20 games. Twelve of Benn’s 21 goals have been scored at home this season. Colin Long has 6+18=24 in 19 career games against the Prince George Cougars. Long has been held off the score-sheet just twice in those 19 games. Long has just one goal in his last 7 games overall, yet has points in 6 of his last 8 games. Long has 2+9=11 in those 6 games.
Lov’n Laz: Rockets goaltender Kris Lazaruk has won back-to-back games for the first time since back-to-back victories September 26th and 27th against Kamloops. Lazaruk has allowed just one goal in his last two games (0.50) and has stopped 41 of 42 shots (.976) in those two starts. This will be Lazaruk’s 125th career start tonight. Lazaruk has 64 career victories.
Coming Off a Win: How do the Rockets fair the game following a win? The Rockets have been in that situation 14 times this season and have followed that up with another victory 8 times.
Scoring 3 and Feeling Glee: The Rockets are 14-3-0-0 when they score 3 or more goals. The only three games where they’ve scored three or more goals and lost were 5-3 to Vancouver, 8-6 to Everett and 7-3 to Lethbridge. The Rockets are 8-4-0-0 in games where they’ve allowed 3 or more goals.
Three Rockets Eligible: NHL Central Scouting has released it’s first list of the Western Hockey League players eligible for this summers draft. Tyson Barrie is rated 8th, Collin Bowman is 22nd and Stepan Novotny is ranked 23rd. The top rated WHL player for the draft is Spokane’s Jared Cowan.
Cody’s Coming Out Party: Cody Almond has 8 – 2 goal games over his career, but registered his first career hat trick Saturday night against Kamloops. Almond now has 20 points in 22 games this season. Almond scored his 50th career goal into an empty net Wednesday. Almond is playing in his 183rd career game tonight.
Broadcaster Tidbits: The Rockets have scored 91 goals this season. Only Vancouver (107) have scored more goals than the Rockets in the Western Conference…..The Rockets have scored 34 power play goals this season, the third most in the WHL. Only Vancouver (38) and Calgary (37) have scored more times with the extra man…Jamie Benn has scored the most goals in the WHL this season with 21. Benn leads Brandon Kozun of the Calgary Hitmen by just three goals….Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie is third in scoring by defenseman with 24 points. Vancouver’s Jonathon Blum leads the way with 27…Two of the Rockets three shutouts this season have been on the road. Kris Lazaruk recorded one against Kamloops while Adam Brown turned the trick against the Chilliwack Bruins…The Rockets have two players that have registered hat tricks this season. Cody Almond recorded three goals Saturday against Kamloops while Jamie Benn had three goals November 1st against Lethbridge.
Schedule Maker: The Rockets play 11 more games before Christmas. Six of those games are on home ice. The five road games include dates in Prince George (twice), Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton.
Two Head to A-D-T: Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers have been named to team WHL, which will face the Russians in the A-D-T Canada/Russia Challenge next month. Games will be played in Swift Current and Prince Albert Saskatchewan.
No Shootout/No OT: The Rockets have failed to play a game this season that has gone either to overtime or a shootout. The last overtime game the Rockets were involved in that ended in a decision was December 15/07 in a 3-2 overtime win in Saskatoon. Jamie Benn scored the game winner. The last time the Rockets were involved in a shootout was March 9/08 in a 4-3 shootout win in Chilliwack. Tyson Barrie technically scored the game winning goal in that contest. The Rockets were involved in 11 shootout games last season. Kelowna is joined by Portland and Saskatoon as the only three teams not involved in a shootout this season.