Tonight’s Preview: This is the one and only meeting of the season between the Rockets and Blades. These two teams met once last season, in Saskatoon, with the Rockets earning a 3-2 overtime win. Jamie Benn scored the game winner at the 4:59 mark of overtime on December 15/07. Tonight’s game is the Blades first visit to Prospera Place since a 2-1 win October 25/06. In fact the Blades are riding a modest two game winning streak in Kelowna after a 3-1 win October 23/04. The last loss for the Blades in this building was a 3-1 loss October 13/03. The last time the Rockets shutout the Blades at Prospera Place was October 19/02 as Kelly Guard made 15 saves. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a five game winning streak (having out-scored the opposition 24-6) after a 3-0 win against Chilliwack Saturday. Tyson Barrie, Tyler Myers and Jamie Benn scored goals for the winners, while Kris Lazaruk made 11 saves for his 5th career shutout and second in three games. Tonight’s game is also game two of a five game home stand for the Rockets, who host Regina Friday and Chilliwack Saturday night. The Rockets wrap up the home schedule before Christmas with a game against Swift Current Wednesday December 12th before hitting the road for three games with stops in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton.
Trade Winds Blow: The Rockets sent 18 year-old defenseman Riley McIntosh to the Tri City Americans Sunday for a 5th round pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. McIntosh played 104 games with the Rockets over three seasons and was the teams 2nd round pick in the 2005 draft.
C-Joe Returns: Tonight’s game marks the return of former Rockets Colin Joe and Milan Kytnar. The two were traded to the Saskatoon Blades June 26th for a 1st round pick (Stepan Novotny) in the CHL European Draft and a 5th round pick in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft. Joe was the Rockets 3rd round pick in the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft behind first round selection Craig Cuthbert and second round pick Kirt Hill. Joe played 248 games with the Rockets over four seasons. Kytnar played last season with the Rockets, putting up 22 points in 62 games. This season Kytnar has more points than he had with the Rockets all of last season.
Five Losses: Call it a transformation of epic proportions for the Kelowna Rockets this season. After losing five of their first 9 games this season the hockey club have now lost just 5 times in their last 18 contests.
In case Your Wondering? Rockets forward Kyle St. Denis is missing his 13th straight game tonight with a broken wrist. The wrist was broken October 24th against the Chilliwack Bruins. The Rockets are 8-4-0-0 with St. Denis out of the lineup.
Lucas Bloodoff is playing in his 166th career game tonight.
Dylan Hood is playing in his 135th career game tonight.
Cody Almond is playing in his 186th career game tonight and has 124 career points.
Colin Long has 185 career points.
Tyler Myers is playing in his 157th career game tonight.
Tysen Dowzak is playing in his 177th career game tonight.
Broadcaster Tidbits: Tonight the Rockets enter a portion of their schedule playing 12 of their next 16 games at home… Fifteen year-old Shane McColgan has signed a WHL contract with the Kelowna Rockets. McColgan was selected in the first round of this summers WHL Bantam draft. McColgan is the third American born player selected by the Rockets in the opening round, behind Luke Moffatt (07) and Jason Ryznar (99)….The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals – eight times this season. The Rockets have managed to score 6 or more goals three times against the Cougars, with single game outbursts against Kamloops, Kootenay, Everett, Chilliwack and Seattle. Last season the Rockets scored 6 or more goals 12 times… The Rockets longest winning streak last season was 7 games. That streak took place between December 31/07 and January 12/08…The Rockets have just 5 power play goals in their last seven games. That’s 5 goals in their last 34 chances (14.7) The good news is the Rockets have not allowed a power play goal in five games, killing off 19 straight power play chances. In the teams last seven games the penalty killing unit has given up just four goals in 31 opportunities.
Lov’n Laz: Rockets goaltender Kris Lazaruk has won three straight games for the first time since winning three in a row against Kamloops (twice) and Everett September 26th and 27th and October 1st. Lazaruk has allowed just one goal in his last three games (0.33) and has stopped 52 of 53 shots (.981) in those three starts. Lazaruk has 65 career victories. Lazaruk’s longest winning streak last season was 8 games.
Coming Off a Win: How do the Rockets fair the game following a win? The Rockets have been in that situation 17 times this season and have followed that up with another victory 11 times.