Tonight’s Preview: This is the one and only meeting of the season between the Rockets and Pats. These two teams met once last season in Regina with the Rockets falling 4-3 on December 9th 2007. The Pats last visited Prospera Place on November 24th 2006 in a 3-1 victory. The Pats last loss in this building was an 8-3 setback on November 26th 2005. The Rockets had a five game winning streak snapped Wednesday with a 4-2 setback to Saskatoon. The Blades scored three times in the first period then went into a defensive shell, producing just 8 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes. Stepan Novotny and Tyson Barrie each scored power play goals in the third period to make it respectable. During the teams five game winning streak the Rockets out-scored the opposition 24-6. Tonight’s game is the third of five straight on home ice. The Rockets are 1-1-0-0 in the first two games. Following tonight’s game the Rockets host Chilliwack tomorrow night before concluding the home stand next Wednesday against the Swift Current Broncos. The Rockets wrap up the schedule before Christmas with games on the road in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton.
St-D Remains: The Kelowna Rockets and Regina Pats completed a six player deal December 7/2006. Just one of those players from that trade remains with the team he was traded too. Eighteen year-old Kyle St. Denis was acquired by the Rockets in that deal along with Justin Bernhardt and Jason McDonald. St. Denis remains sidelined with a broken wrist. Bernhardt was traded to Prince Albert while McDonald was released. In return for those players the Pats received Troy Ofukany, Kirt Hill and Kaspars Sauletis. Ofukany and Sauletis have graduated from major junior while Hill is playing his 20 year-old season with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. Hill has 8+16=24 in 17 games.
A Christmas Tradition: It’s been a Christmas tradition over the last three years for a member of the Kelowna Rockets to play for Canada at the world junior hockey championships. In 2008 Luke Schenn played for Canada, in 2007 Blake Comeau wore Canadian colours and in 2006 Shea Weber won a gold medal. Current Rockets Tyler Myers and Jamie Benn have been invited to team Canada’s selection camp next Thursday in Ottawa.
Don’t Freak Out: Should Benn or Myers make team Canada you can expect them to miss 10 regular season games. Over the last three seasons Luke Schenn, Blake Comeau and Shea Weber have all missed ten games while playing for their country. How have the Rockets fared over the years when one of its players participates at the world juniors? Year: Player Games Missed Rockets Result: 2008 - Schenn: missed 10 games - Rockets Record 7-2-0-12007 - Comeau: missed 10 games - Rockets Record 5-5-0-02006 - Weber: missed 10 games - Rockets Record 4-3 with 1 OTL and 2 ties.2004 - Gorges: missed 10 games - Rockets Record 9-0 and a tie2002 - Kobasew: missed 11 games - Rockets Record 5-4 with a tie and an overtime loss.Conclusion: Since 2002 the Rockets have earned points 37 of the 51 games they've played with a rep playing for Canada at the world juniors.
Who’s Hot: Jamie Benn is riding a seven game point streak. Benn has 5+6=11 over that period. Benn has been held off the score-sheet just three times this season against Vancouver (twice) and Tri City. Colin Long has points in 6 of his last 7 games. Long has 2+9=11 over that period. Long is playing in his 188th career game tonight. Cody Almond has 5+2=7 in his last six games. Almond is playing in his 187th career game tonight.
If You’re Wondering? Rockets forward Kyle St. Denis is missing his 14th straight game tonight with a broken wrist. The wrist was broken October 24th against the Chilliwack Bruins. The Rockets are 8-5-0-0 with St. Denis out of the lineup. St. Denis has the cast removed on Monday December 15th.
Broadcaster Tidbits: The Rockets are 0-3-0-0 against teams in the Eastern Division this season. The Rockets have suffered losses to Saskatoon (4-2), Prince Albert (3-1) and Brandon (3-2)…….Mitchell Callahan leads the Rockets in fighting majors with six…. 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 7 power play goals in their last eight games. That’s 7 goals in their last 37 chances (18.9). The good news is the Rockets have allowed just two power play goals in six games, killing off 19 of 21 power play chances over that period. In the teams last eight games the penalty killing unit has given up just six goals in 34 opportunities.
Scoring 3 and Feeling Glee: The Rockets are 17-3-0-0 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 9-5-0-0 in games where they’ve allowed 3 or more goals.
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.
Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 10-3-0-0 at home this season, having out-scored the opposition 51-23. The only losses at home this season were a 4-2 loss to Saskatoon, a 3-1 setback to Vancouver and a 3-2 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings October 25th.