Kyle Beach Interview

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is Beach the Most Hated Player in WHL?

'Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I guess I'll go eat worms'. That may be the theme song for Everett Silvertips forward Kyle Beach. Beach would compete with Vancouver Giants enforcer Garet Hunt for the most hated player in the Western Conference. Having gotten to know Beach well over the last couple of years, I thought it would be interesting to get his take on being arguably the most hated player in the conference. I sat down with Kyle (who I don't hate by the way) and got his take on a style of play that makes everybody mad!

"I definitely get under peoples skin. Whether it's players on the other team, coaches or even fans in the building, nobody really seems to like me. I guess that would put me up for a high candidate for public enemy number one as the most hated player in the WHL."

Does that suit you fine? Do you say to yourself - big deal?

"It doesn't bother me. It's not going to change the way I play the game. It's not a popularity contest out there so it's not going to affect the way I go out and play my game"

Having suffered two concussions this season, will you temper back your in-your-face style of play?

"I definitely have to be careful. A third (concussion) would put me out for quite a while - a month or a month and a half - so I have to change my approach to the game a little bit, but at the same time if I change it too much I am not going to be effective."

I've heard from NHL scouts that they are concerned about your discipline. I would think you are aware of that aspect of your game that needs to improve?

"I think NHL scouts would like to see me focus more on what I am doing, and not so much on the other team, and just walk away once the whistle goes. Both my concussions have come late or after a whistle, so if I can get that out of my game I will avoid more injuries and I'll be more effective. It's hard to walk away when someone gets there palm in your face or his face in your face saying something to you, but that's something I am going to have to work on and control."

It's a Broken Beak!


No this is not a picture of Kelowna Rockets forward Cody Almond, but Almond did break his nose in a fight last night with Everett's Dane Crowley. Almond and Crowley got into a fight late in the third period of Wednesday's 5-1 Rockets win over the Everett Silvertips. Almond will play Friday against Lethbridge, but will likely be wearing a full face shield.

Defenseman Collin Bowman missed a portion of last night's game after being hit on the wrist with a puck. Bowman is also expected to play Friday night against the Hurricanes.

Second Line Scoring? No Problem!

  • The Rockets needed secondary scoring last night against the Everett Silvertips, and they got it. The first line of Colin Long, Jamie Benn and Brady Leavold was dismantled after it was learned that Benn will be out no less than 3 weeks with a badly sprained right ankle. Benn suffered the injury in practice on Tuesday. To make matters worse, Long saw limited time in last night's game on the power play after the WHL's leading scorer was bit by the flu bug.
  • So with essentially their top two point getters out of the lineup, manufacturing offense from several sources was necessary, and those players came through with flying colours. Milan Kyntar, Evan Bloodoff, Kyle St. Denis and Brandon McMillan enabled the Rockets to build up a 4-0 lead before Brady Leavold sealed the deal with a power play goal midway through the third period. When you get three of your five goals from 17 year-olds, you can't but be happy with the outcome.
  • Despite a 5-1 score, the Rockets needed to be at their best in this one. The Tips were a threat for 40 minutes, generating several great offensive chances. Yet when breakdowns occured, Rockets goaltender Torrie Jung was sharp making several key saves. The games first star also recieved help from the defensive core, who did a tremendous job blocking shots and clearing away traffic from infront of the net.
  • Does Tips overage forward Dan Gendur have the best shot in the Western Conference? Torrie Jung thinks so when I spoke to him about Gendur's bullet on the post game show. Jung's best save came off of Gendur, who was robbed on a second period power play. The Tips ended the night 0 for 7 with the extra man. The penalty kill was tremendous against the Tips, and Jung was the teams best penalty killer.
  • Kyle Beach returned to the Tips lineup after being sidelined with a concussion. Beach looked rusty, yet played the agitiating style that makes him one of the most hated players in the WHL. Funny thing is, I spoke to Beach about that very fact before the game. As he told me in an interview, "I am not out there to win any popularity contests".
  • I will learn more on the status of Rockets forward Cody Almond today at practice, after Almond was sent to the ice with a huge right hand from Tips defenseman Dane Crowley late in the third period. The fight sent Almond to the ice with a bloody nose. If it's broken I wouldn't be surprised.
  • Soft calls were the norm as referee Pat Smith had the ice all to himself last night. Smith made several calls where players simply skated on an opponents stick. I prefer the one referee system because it usually results in fewer penalties. That was not the case with Smith at the helm last night.
  • The Tips trip to Kelowna was a long one. The winter-like conditions on the Coquihalla and Connector resulted in the Tips travel time taking 10 hours rather than the normal 6 and a half hours it takes from rink to rink.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jung Gets the Call

The Kelowna Rockets will start 19 year-old Torrie Jung in goal tonight when they host the Everett Silvertips.
Jung will be making his 3rd straight start after playing in back-to-back games in Swift Current and Medicine Hat on the weekend.
The Rockets also confirmed today that captain James McEwan has had his cast removed from his wrist. McEwan was fitted with the cast after having two tendons cut on his wrist during a fight last month against Vancouver.
AM 1150 has tonight's game starting with the pre-game show at 6:30 and the play-by-play at 7.

Rockets Game Notes vs. Tips

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets open a portion of their schedule tonight playing 7 of their next 10 games on home ice. Of those ten opponents, just one – Edmonton – is under the .500 mark. The Rockets road visits include stops in Chilliwack, Kamloops and Spokane. The Rockets enter tonight’s game with ten wins in their last 13 games overall, and are riding a seven game home ice winning streak. The Rockets are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss in Medicine Hat Saturday. The Rockets built up a 2-0 lead only to see the Tigers score three unanswered goals before Collin Bowman tied the game in the third period. The two teams settled nothing in overtime before the Tigers won the game in the shootout. Tonight’s game against the Silvertips is the 4th and final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rockets were a 6-4 winner in Everett to open the seasonal series before the Tips bounced back to win by scores of 4-3 and 3-2 in overtime. Overall the Rockets are 1-1-1-0 in the first three games, with both teams scoring 11 goals in the three games. If the playoffs were to begin tonight, these two teams would face each other in the opening round. Following tonight’s game the Rockets host Lethbridge on Friday before traveling to Chilliwack Saturday night.

Period Scoring vs. Tips:
1 2 3 OT Total
Rockets 6 2 3 0 11
Tips 4 5 1 1 11

Breaking it Down Further: The Tips have out-shot the Rockets in two of the three games this season. Overall the Tips have fired 85 shots at the Rockets goal for an average of 28.3 per game. The Rockets have registered 75 shots on goal for an average of 25 per game. The Rockets have started Kristofer Westblom in two of the three games this season against Everett. Torrie Jung was in goal in the Rockets lone win, 6-4 over the Tips September 28th in Everett. The Rockets are 4 for 21=19% on the power play in the seasonal series, while the Tips are 6 for 20=30% with the extra man.

Potential Playoff Partner? If the playoffs were to begin tonight, the Rockets and Tips would meet in the opening round. It would mark the third time that these two teams have tangled in the playoffs. The Tips were a 7 game winner in the Western Conference final in 2003, and beat the Rockets in 6 games in the 2006 Western Conference Semi Finals.

Red Hot Rockets: Colin Long has points in 15 of his last 18 games (7+27=34). Jamie Benn leads the team in power play goals with 13. Cody Almond set a new career high in goals with his 17th and 18th goals of the season Saturday in Medicine Hat. Almond has been held off the score-sheet just twice in 15 games since the Christmas break.

Rockets Tidbits: Three former members of the Kelowna Rockets participated in the AHL All-Star Game Monday. Justin Keller (Norfolk), Joel Kwiatkowski (Chicago) and Jeff Tambellini (Bridgeport) suited up for the Canadian AHL All-Stars. Keller was a late addition to the team after replacing teammate Kyle Wanvig, who was called up by Tampa Bay. Keller played 216 games with the Rockets from 2004-2006. Kwiatkowski played 110 games with Tacoma/Kelowna from 1994-1996 before being traded to the Prince George Cougars. Tambellini never played a game with the Rockets, but was acquired at the trade deadline in 2004 from the Spokane Chiefs…Brady Leavold has goals in four of his last six games and in 9 of his last 13…Jamie Benn has seven-two goal games this season, but has yet to register a hat-trick…Colin Long has 24-multiple point games this season…The Rockets have 20 games left in the regular season, 12 at home and 8 on the road…The Rockets have had the second most power play chances of any team in the WHL (297). Only Everett has had more chances with the extra man…The Rockets have won 7 straight at home, with their last setback being a 4-3 loss to Kamloops on December 28th. The Rockets have out-scored their opponent 37-10 in those seven home games…The Rockets have points in 9 of their last 13 road games (6-4-0-3). The Rockets four road regulation losses over that period were against Swift Current (4-0), Kamloops (5-3), Vancouver (5-2) and Regina (4-3).

Rockets vs. Divisions:

vs. BC: 18-8-0-1 vs. US: 5-5-2-0
vs. Central: 3-1-0-1 vs. East: 4-3-0-2

Rockets Players by Province: BC=12 US=4 ALB=3 SASK=2 MAN=1 EURO=1 Total=23

Rockets Schedule - Next 5 Games: Rockets Results - Last 5 Games:
Feb 1 vs. Lethbridge Rockets 3 Chilliwack 2 W
Feb 2 @ Chilliwack Rockets 6 Prince George 3 W
Feb 8 @ Kamloops Rockets 9 Hawks 2 W
Feb 9 vs. Chilliwack Rockets 0 Broncos 4 L
Feb 14 vs. Brandon Rockets 3 Tigers 4 SOL

Record by Month:
Month Games Record Home Road
September: 4 1-2-1-0 0-1-1-0 1-1-0-0
October: 11 5-5-0-1 3-3-0-1 2-2-0-0
November: 13 9-2-1-1 4-1-0-0 5-1-1-1
December: 12 6-4-0-2 2-1-0-0 4-3-0-2
January: 13 9-2-0-1 7-0-0-0 2-2-0-1
February: 11 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0

Rockets Season Highs and Lows:
Most Goals Scored: 11 @ Prince George Jan 11/08 in an 11-1 win.
Most Goals Allowed: 6 vs. Kootenay Nov 23/07 (7-6 OTW), @ Tri City November 21/07 (6-1 L)
Most Power Play Chances: 11 @ Swift Current Jan 25/08. The Rockets were 0/11, losing 4-0.
Most Power Play Goals Scored: 4 @ Cougars Jan 11/08 (11-1 W), vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W)
Most Power Play Goals Allowed: 4 @ Vancouver Dec 29/07 (5-2 L), @ Everett Sept 29/07
Most Shots Taken: 41 @ Prince George Jan 12/08 (5-2 W).
Fewest Shots Taken: 9 @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 (5-0L)
Most Shot Allowed: 48 @ Vancouver Sept 30/07
Fewest Shots Allowed: 13 vs. Blazers Oct 30/07 (6-1 W)
Last Shutout: - Kristofer Westblom 22 saves vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win. Kristofer Westblom 28 saves vs. Calgary (5-0 W)
Last Time Shutout: - @ Swift Current Jan 25/08 – Guggenberger 30 saves (4-0 L)
Most Points by a Player: Jamie Benn had 2+4=6 vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Most Goals by a Player: Brady Leavold scored 4 goals vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Penalty Shots: Lucas Bloodoff fails to score on Justin Leclerc in 4-3 loss to Kamloops December 28th. Torrie Jung stops Bruins forward Cody Smuk in a 4-1 win in Chilliwack Dec 31/07. Torrie Jung stops Hawks forward Luke Walker Nov 17/07 in a 4-1 win in Portland. Kristofer Westblom stops Everett’s Shane Harper in a 3-2 overtime loss Nov 16/07 in Everett. Torrie Jung stopped Michal Repik in the 3rd period of a 5-0 loss Sept 29/07.
Overtime Winning Goal: Jamie Benn scored at 4:59 December 15/07 in a 3-2 win in Saskatoon. Tyler Myers scored at 3:58 of overtime December 5/07 in a 4-3 win over Medicine Hat. Colin Long scored at :44 of overtime Nov 23/07 in a 7-6 win over Kootenay. Jamie Benn scored at 1:07 of overtime Nov 2/07 in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.
Shootout Game Winning Goals: Dylan Hood scores in a 4-3 win in Seattle October 6/07. Colin Long scored the game winner in a 2-1 win over Vancouver October 24th.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3 Westblom, McEwan, Leavold
19’s – 3 Dowzak, MacRae, Joe
18’s – 8 Long, Kytnar, L. Bloodoff, Jung, Schenn, Almond, Benn
17’s – 6 St. Denis, E. Bloodoff, McIntosh, Myers, McMillan, Hood
16’s – 4 Bowman, Barrie, Paradis, Verdino
Average Age: 17.7
Rookies – 7

NHL Draft Picks-Training Camp Attendees: Jamie Benn (Dallas 07), Torrie Jung (Tampa Bay 07), Cody Almond (Minnesota 07), Milan Kytnar (Oilers 07), Tysen Dowzak (Tryout Philadelphia).

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel (AM 1150)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm....

  • I was interested in comments made by Portland goaltender Kurtis Mucha last week. Mucha told the Portland Tribune "You see some players on our team who think they’re better than they are. Too cocky,” Mucha said. “And then there are a couple players who shouldn’t even be in this league. It’s not their fault. They’re being thrown into a situation they’re not used to, and almost set up to fail. But we’ve got nobody else.” I hear his frustration, but after making comments like that, how does he expect his teammates to play hard in front of him? I guess Mucha has little to lose, considering they haven't shown up to play before, why should things change following his harsh criticism of his teammates.
  • Would the Rockets have earned a point in Medicine Hat had it not been for the play of goaltender Torrie Jung? Likely not. But that's ok. Ask yourself how many games has a Rockets goaltender single handily won a game for the team this season? Not many. The Rockets don't need good goaltending, but great goaltending if they want to compete against the Spokane's, Calgary's and Vancouver's of this world. Torrie Jung's efforts Saturday can not be overlooked.
  • A suggestion was made in the comments section of the coaches decision to bench Brady Leavold after a turnover Saturday night resulting in a Tigers goal. Leavold did not see the ice after Cody Carlson's goal made it a 3-2 game. My feeling is Leavold's give-away was the final straw in a series of missed assignments over the two night's. While Leavold is one of the Rockets top players, what message does that send to the other's if he too is not accountable for his actions?
  • It was great running into Doug Mosher in Medicine Hat Saturday night. Mosher has been fighting illness, and it was great to see him at the arena. Mosher may be weaker than when I last saw him, but his sense of humor hasn't changed. Mosher and I go back to my days in Swift Current, when Mosher was the GM of the Broncos. We spent many a bus trip sitting with each other, me the wide eyed rookie broadcaster and Mosher the outspoken hockey man.
  • Playing the Swift Current Broncos for the lone time this season has me thinking that the WHL needs to make a change to it's schedule. Is it not a shame that fans in the Okanagan are unable to see the Broncos at Prospera Place? What happened if the Broncos had a 17 year-old player this season who was projected to be the number one pick in this summers NHL draft, yet the Broncos failed to make a stop in K-Town? How many people would be bitching then? I am all for playing divisional rivals, but playing teams like Chilliwack and Vancouver to ad nauseam isn't good either.
  • Going back to the Credit Union I-Plex in Swift Current, and seeing 24 hundred fans in the stands just proves that the new seating in that building is necessary, if the locals are willing to back the team. I scratched my head when the wrap-around seating at the East end was being considered, but the saying 'If we build it they will come' rang loud and clear Friday night.
  • So now that the home of the Broncos has received a face-lift, what is the plan for Moose Jaw? The rink is a dive, and can't hold a candle to Swift Current or Prince Albert. Officially the home of the Warriors is the disgrace of the league. Even the Medicine Hat Arena is better. Why? At least it's clean. It doesn't have to be brand new to have appeal, but pride of ownership is lost on those that run the Crushed Can. Just go up to the visitors broadcast booth and tell me other wise. I'll meet you at the dry cleaners to discuss the issue with you afterwards.
  • Speaking of Medicine Hat, I've been told a new arena there is still 4 to 5 years away. The plans for the building have it looking like a slightly smaller Everett Events Center. The cost of the new arena in the Hat is projected to be about 90 million. The reno's in Swift Current were about 15 million.
  • Why are NHL scouts so scared to talk to the media about prospects for the upcoming draft? I've ran into so many of the them following the Rockets on the road, yet when pressed to get an opinion on Schenn, Myers or McMillan, everyone clams up. It was only until Saturday night in Medicine Hat that Chicago Black Hawks Assistant GM Rick Dudley opened up about the players scouts are salivating over. LA GM Dean Lombardi wasn't the least bit interested in shedding some light on the three prospects when I spoke to him last week in Kelowna. It was like he thought I would spread the word on what his drafting intentions were going to be.
  • Watching the NHL All-Star game Sunday has me calling for the return of the WHL All-Star game. Give the Canada-Russia Super Series the punt, and bring back a game that showcases the best this league has to offer. East against West. A no-hitter it wouldn't be!
  • I thought the Rockets organization did a smart thing by leaving Tyson Barrie and Riley McIntosh at the hotel Saturday night. The two were sicker than a dog with the flu, and keeping them in a hotel bed rather than forcing them to head to the rink as (un)healthy scratches wouldn't have made sense. On the ride back to Kelowna the two were stationed at the front of the bus, away from teammates, but right across from the radio broadcast. GREAT! Remind me to pack my Sars mask for my next road trip.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grabbing the Tiger by the Tail

  • Torrie Jung was especially sharp in this one. Don’t let the three goals he allowed in regulation time cloud your thoughts on his performance. Jung was forced to make five tremendous saves, and you could sense early on that he was on his game. Jung took away what I anticipated to be three goals. My theory is simple. I want the Rockets goaltenders to make at least one save that they simply shouldn’t make. Jung didn’t do it once, but three times. Why he wasn’t a star in the game is beyond me.
  • Luke Schenn proved why he is rated so high for this summers NHL draft. In arguably his best game of the season, Schenn was physical, and handled the Tigers relentless fore-check with ease. Schenn’s composure with the puck was second to none Saturday night and his ability to skate the puck up ice while leaving the opposition in his wake was truly impressive. Schenn finally elected to shoot the puck, something the coaching staff have been harping on him to do. He didn't look like first round material in Swift Current the night before, but he had the makings of a sure fire pick one night later.
  • It’s nothing new, but sometimes simplistic hockey is effective. The Rockets defenseman did a better job of getting pucks towards the net. The best example came on the Rockets opening goal when Luke Schenn’s point shot was stopped, but the rebound was gathered up by Cody Almond, who potted his 17th goal of the season. Defenseman Collin Bowman was rewarded for pulling the trigger from the point, scoring the tying goal with a hard shot from the blue line that surprised Tigers goaltender Ryan Holfeld. Shoot the puck d-men! Benn, Long and Leavold aren' the only ones given the green light to let it fly.
  • A turnover from twenty year-old Brady Leavold resulting in the Tigers taking a 3-2 lead didn't sit well with the coaches. The teams third leading scorer was benched for the remainder of the game. While Leavold watched from the sidelines, Dylan Hood, Evan Bloodoff and Brandon McMillan saw time alongside Colin Long and Jamie Benn. The coaches wanted to get their point across clearly to Leavold, that they didn't even use him in the shootout.
  • The flu bug is flying around the Rockets dressing room. It hit Tyson Barrie and Riley McIntosh so hard, the two stayed at a Medicine Hat hotel during the game. Kristofer Westblom was also ill, but managed to backup Jung.

    Getting the Dirt on the Draft from Dudley: Rick Dudley - Assistant GM Chicago Black Hawks

    On former Rockets defenseman Duncan Keith, an NHL All-Star:

    “He’s a well deserved all-star. He’s been our top defenseman all year. I’ve seen him go from a kid that was a likeable young man, who had really good feet that wasn’t sure how good he could be, into the all-star that he is. You cheer for guys like him because he’s a good kid and he works so hard. He is a guy that always has a team concept.
    I think the new rules have helped him, and even though he’s not a big man, he’s competitive. The only thing he did that should be a lesson to any young player is, he was 165 pounds when we drafted him and now he’s about 195. He dedicated himself to become much stronger and much heavier and he did it without giving up any of the speed that he has.”

    Dudley on small defenseman prospering in today’s NHL:

    “The small defenseman can play as the big defenseman can play. You have to have character. A guy like Duncan Keith is fearless. He will go back and get the puck under duress. It used to be the bigger defenseman would have to hold up and you couldn’t get a fore-check, but now under the new rules you need more character because you are going back with the threat of being hit almost all the time now. So whether you are a defenseman big or small, you have to have character and quick feet, and character is what Duncan Keith is all about”

    Dudley on what he saw at the NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game:

    “I liked all three of the Rockets who were there. I thought all three play extremely well.”

    Dudley on Luke Schenn’s 95 mile an hour slap shot:

    “One of the categories I mark down when I am scouting a player is the shot, and it certainly comes into play. Obviously Luke Schenn is a player you are going to report on every time you see him, but the fact that he registered a 95 mile an hour shot is an added thing for him. He has a lot of components that make him a good hockey player, but the shot adds to the dimension he’s got.”

    Can Luke Schenn play at the NHL level next season?

    “It’s much easier now. Their was a time when their were so many tricks you needed to learn like the clutching, grabbing and holding - angling and those types of things. It comes down now to more things like energy and about foot speed. Schenn is capable of skating in the NHL, he’s certainly strong enough to play in the NHL. Would you have thought a few years ago that Patrick Kane could come in and do the things he’s done? Obviously they are different players, but the fact is he’s right out of the draft and he walked right into the NHL and he’s a star.”

    Dudley on Tyler Myers:

    “I saw him for the first time at the prospects game. I liked everything about him. He’s obviously big. He appears to me to be a kid with power, with adding some muscle he can become a dimensional skater. Whether that moves him ahead of Schenn in terms of a long term future I don’t know.”

    I asked Dudley if WHL leading scorer Colin Long provides some interest for NHL scouts:

    “You have to watch somebody like that who puts up those types of numbers. Their are questions about him. He’s a player I am watching and that’s because he’s put up those types of numbers. That said, you almost discount any hockey sense he has….now you are starting to look at things like foot speed and what he does away from the puck. The fun thing about scouting amateurs is you have to be pretty good at projecting down the road. I don’t care if he (Long) is 18. If you give him the right tools and training to do over the years, I want to see how a player like that is going to be when he’s twenty-two. It’s amazing how far some young players come in certain areas. He (Long) is the type of player who obviously has the offensive capacity; it depends on the rest of it.”

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Getting Bucked By The Broncos

  • It’s amazing what good old fashioned hard work will do. The Swift Current Broncos clearly outworked the Rockets in a 4-0 home ice win Friday night. The Broncos won battles for pucks, blocked shots and killed off 11 power play chances in the win. The Broncos got better as the game went on, the Rockets couldn’t find second gear.
  • Was the result predictable? You had to think a stinker was in the cards for the Rockets sooner rather than later. The Broncos were very good, but the Rockets clearly were not sharp, and likely acquired some bad habits in lopsided wins over Prince George and Portland.
  • The Rockets number one line of Long, Benn and Leavold struggled but can’t be entirely blamed for the loss. While they are the key in the teams overall success, the second or third lines followed the lead of the top unit. Conversely two players that now have 11 goals combined scored two the Broncos four goals.
  • Broncos forward Cody Eakin was a good example of doing whatever it takes to win. Eakin had a goal and an assist and was named the games first star, but it was Eakin’s play without a stick in the neutral zone and his ability to shuffle the puck in his skates before kicking it inside the Rockets zone that really impressed me. Extra effort goes a long way!
  • The Rockets missed a handful of chances early in the game, which may have turned the complexion of the game in their favor. Less than 3 minutes into the first period, Brady Leavold feeds Jamie Benn with a beautiful pass just inside the Broncos blueline allowing Benn to go one-on-one with goaltender Mark Gruggenberger. Benn attempted to snap it high blocker side, only to see his shot go high and wide. It was a sign of things to come.
  • The Rockets were 0/6 on the power play in the first period alone, including a 5 on 3 which generated few scoring chances. On top of getting off to a rough start with the power play in the first period, the Rockets also allowed a shorthanded goal.
  • Mark Guggenberger was the surprise started in goal for the Broncos. Guggenberger was solid in his Bronco debut, recording his first career shutout against the highest scoring team in the WHL. Guggenberger wasn’t overly tested, but when called upon made some good saves.
  • Goaltender Torrie Jung must be battered and bruised after this one. Jung was hit in the mask in a 3rd period blast from Broncos d-man Jesse Dudas and then got labeled in the shoulder from an Eric Doyle point shot on the same sequence.
  • The Broncos are a team that has underachieved this season. With 25 wins this season, the Broncos proved last night that if they work as hard as they did Friday night against the Rockets, they have as good a chance as any team to win the Conference.
  • I had a chance to chat with Broncos GM/Coach Dean Chynoweth and Assistant GM Eldon Moberg before the game. I’ve mentioned before on this blog my thoughts on Chynoweth. I find him extremely personable and a pleasure to chat with, let alone interview. He is slowly moving up my list as my favorite coach out East. I first got to know Chynoweth when he was as head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds. Moberg is a long time friend and colleague.
  • The Broncos enjoyed the largest crowd of the season as over 24 hundred fans packed the Credit Union I-Plex. The crowd also enjoyed a pre-game ceremonial face-off as four members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders were in attendance - Grey Cup in tow – for a autograph session before the game.
  • Former Rockets head coach Marc Habscheid was in attendance at last night’s game. I didn’t see him myself, but his brother told me he took in the game.
  • Former NHL/Broncos star Tyler Wright was at last night’s game. Wright was a member of the Broncos team that won a WHL title in 1993. Wright has been scouting with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rockets Game Notes vs. Broncos

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets open a two game road trip tonight in Swift Current against the Broncos. The Rockets are in Medicine Hat Saturday before hosting Everett on Wednesday. The Rockets are coming off a 9-2 win over Portland Wednesday night. Colin Long (0+5=5) and Brady Leavold (2+3=5) led the Rockets attack while Jamie Benn (2+2=4) also had a solid game. The win, the Rockets 30th of the season, extended the teams home ice winning streak to 7 games. Overall the Rockets have won three straight, and 10 of their last 11. The only setback over that period was a 5-3 loss in Kamloops January 15th. Tonight’s game is the lone meeting between the Rockets and Broncos this season. Last season these two teams met just once, with the Broncos earning a 1-0 shootout victory at Prospera Place October 4, 2006. The Rockets are riding a five game winning streak in Swift Current dating back to the 2002-2003 season. The last time the Rockets suffered a defeat at the arena formerly known as the Centennial Civic Centre was October 6, 2002 in a 3-2 loss.

Brady is Back: Rockets forward Brady Leavold returns to Swift Current for the first time since being traded to the Rockets in early October. Leavold made his WHL debut with the Broncos December 30, 2003 against the Saskatoon Blades. Leavold had an assist in that game. Leavold’s first career goal came December 10, 2004 against Spokane on goaltender Kevin Opsahl. Leavold’s first fight came against Brett Sutter of the Kootenay Ice December 11, 2004. Leavold was named the Broncos rookie of the year in 2004-2005. Leavold has played 178 career WHL games, collecting 103 points.

Plus-Minus: Brady Leavold leads the WHL in plus/minus with a +34. Teammates Jamie Benn and Colin Long are a close second at +33. Long was -29 last season. Defenseman Tysen Dowzak is a +29. Last season the 19 year-old was -24. While Leavold’s +34 is impressive, Jesse Schultz was a +40 in the 2002-2003 season. Defenseman Brett Palin was a +36 that year.

Scoring First: The Rockets have opened up the scoring in 10 straight games. The last time the opposition opened the scoring was December 31st in a 4-1 win over Chilliwack.

Red Hot Rockets: Colin Long is riding an eight game point streak (3+15=18), and has points in 15 of his last 16 games (7+27=34). Jamie Benn is riding a ten game point streak (10+15=25). Benn leads the team in power play goals with 13. Cody Almond set a new career high in goals with his 16th of the season in Wednesday’s win. Almond has a nine game point streak (5+11=16). Almond has been held off the score-sheet just once in 13 games since the Christmas break. Brady Leavold is riding a 13 game point streak. Leavold has 14+16=30 over that period.

Scoreboard Watching: The Rockets trail the Vancouver Giants by 4 points for first place in the BC division. The Giants have 24 games left, with fourteen at home and ten on the road. The Rockets play the Giants in three of those games. The Giants have a home and home with Tri City this weekend.

Rockets Tidbits: The line of Long, Benn and Leavold have combined for 32 points in the last three games, including 29 in the last two…Leavold has goals in four straight games, and in 9 of his last 11. Leavold is +13 in January…While Brady Leavold’s 13 game point streak is impressive, Jesse Schultz had a 14 game point streak from December 28, 2002 to January 24, 2003. Schultz had 13+15=28 over that period…Jamie Benn has seven-two goal games this season, but has yet to register a hat-trick…Colin Long has 24-multiple point games this season…The Rockets have 22 games left in the regular season, 12 at home and 10 on the road…The Rockets have had the second most power play chances of any team in the WHL (284). Only Everett has had more chances with the extra man (307)…The Rockets have won 7 straight at home, with their last setback being a 4-3 loss to Kamloops on December 28th. The Rockets have out-scored their opponent 37-10 in those seven home games…The Rockets have points in 8 of their last 11 road games (6-3-0-2). The Rockets three road regulation losses over that period were against Kamloops (5-3), Vancouver (5-2) and Regina (4-3)…Rockets goaltender Torrie Jung has won his last 5 starts, having allowed just six goals over that period.

Rockets vs. Divisions:

vs. BC: 18-8-0-1 vs. US: 5-5-2-0
vs. Central: 3-1-0-0 vs. East: 4-1-0-2

Rockets Schedule - Next 5 Games: Rockets Results - Last 5 Games:
Jan 26 @ Med Hat Rockets 5 Cougars 2 W
Jan 30 vs. Everett Rockets 3 Kamloops 5 L
Feb 1 vs. Lethbridge Rockets 3 Chilliwack 2 W
Feb 2 @ Chilliwack Rockets 6 Prince George 3 W
Feb 8 @ Kamloops Rockets 9 Hawks 2 W

Record by Month:
Month Games Record Home Road
September: 4 1-2-1-0 0-1-1-0 1-1-0-0
October: 11 5-5-0-1 3-3-0-1 2-2-0-0
November: 13 9-2-1-1 4-1-0-0 5-1-1-1
December: 12 6-4-0-2 2-1-0-0 4-3-0-2
January: 13 10-1-0-0 7-0-0-0 3-1-0-0
February: 11 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0

Rockets Players by Province: BC=12 US=4 ALB=3 SASK=2 MAN=1 EURO=1 Total=23

Rockets Season Highs and Lows:
Most Goals Scored: 11 @ Prince George Jan 11/08 in an 11-1 win.
Most Goals Allowed: 6 vs. Kootenay Nov 23/07 (7-6 OTW), @ Tri City November 21/07 (6-1 L)
Most Power Play Chances: 10 vs. Prince George Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, 9 @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W – 4/9) vs. Warriors Oct 27/07. Rockets were 0/9 losing 4-3 in shootout.
Most Power Play Goals Scored: 4 @ Cougars Jan 11/08 (11-1 W), vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W)
Most Power Play Goals Allowed: 4 @ Vancouver Dec 29/07 (5-2 L), @ Everett Sept 29/07
Most Shots Taken: 41 @ Prince George Jan 12/08 (5-2 W).
Fewest Shots Taken: 9 @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 (5-0L)
Most Shot Allowed: 48 @ Vancouver Sept 30/07
Fewest Shots Allowed: 13 vs. Blazers Oct 30/07 (6-1 W)
Last Shutout: - Kristofer Westblom 22 saves vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win. Kristofer Westblom 28 saves vs. Calgary (5-0 W)
Last Time Shutout: - @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 – Sexsmith 9 saves (5-0 L)
Most Points by a Player: Jamie Benn had 2+4=6 vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Most Goals by a Player: Brady Leavold scored 4 goals vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Penalty Shots: Lucas Bloodoff fails to score on Justin Leclerc in 4-3 loss to Kamloops December 28th. Torrie Jung stops Bruins forward Cody Smuk in a 4-1 win in Chilliwack Dec 31/07. Torrie Jung stops Hawks forward Luke Walker Nov 17/07 in a 4-1 win in Portland. Kristofer Westblom stops Everett’s Shane Harper in a 3-2 overtime loss Nov 16/07 in Everett. Torrie Jung stopped Michal Repik in the 3rd period of a 5-0 loss Sept 29/07.
Overtime Winning Goal: Jamie Benn scored at 4:59 December 15/07 in a 3-2 win in Saskatoon. Tyler Myers scored at 3:58 of overtime December 5/07 in a 4-3 win over Medicine Hat. Colin Long scored at :44 of overtime Nov 23/07 in a 7-6 win over Kootenay. Jamie Benn scored at 1:07 of overtime Nov 2/07 in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.
Shootout Game Winning Goals: Dylan Hood scores in a 4-3 win in Seattle October 6/07. Colin Long scored the game winner in a 2-1 win over Vancouver October 24th.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3 Westblom, McEwan, Leavold
19’s – 3 Dowzak, MacRae, Joe
18’s – 8 Long, Kytnar, L. Bloodoff, Jung, Schenn, Almond, Benn
17’s – 6 St. Denis, E. Bloodoff, McIntosh, Myers, McMillan, Hood
16’s – 4 Bowman, Barrie, Paradis, Verdino
Average Age: 17.7
Rookies – 7

NHL Draft Picks-Training Camp Attendees: Jamie Benn (Dallas 07), Torrie Jung (Tampa Bay 07), Cody Almond (Minnesota 07), Milan Kytnar (Oilers 07), Tysen Dowzak (Tryout Philadelphia).

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel (AM 1150)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Feeling Sympathy in a Royal Beating

  • It’s not often I feel for the opposition goaltender, but on this night my sympathy went out to the Hawks Kurtis Mucha. Mucha, by his own standards, didn’t bring his ‘A’ game to the table in Wednesday’s 9-2 loss to the Rockets, but would it have made a difference? I thought it summed it up best when Mucha was seen after the game sitting alone on the Hawks bench gazing out onto the ice sipping on a water bottle, reflecting on a night he’d simply like to forget.
  • A miss-match with the Rockets and Hawks meeting would result in one of two things. It would either be a royal beating or an upset. A beating it was. The number one line of Long, Leavold and Benn combined for 14 points. Long had five assists, Leavold had two goals and three assists while Benn had two goals and a pair of assists.
  • What’s with the quick starts? The Rockets scored the opening goal 14 seconds into the game, scored 17 seconds in the second period and again accomplished the feat with a goal 17 seconds into the third.
  • The game featured little emotion as the two teams combined for 10 penalty minutes. The Hawks took three minors, the Rockets took two. What concerns me the most about the Hawks was the lack of bite in their game. Despite the scoreboard pummeling, they showed no aggression towards the Rockets what-so-ever. The visitors took the beating without raising a fist before calmly boarding the bus and moving on. Accepting defeat is a bad sign.
  • It was nice to see Torrie Jung return to the lineup. I thought Jung had to come up with a handful of good saves in the win. Jung has now won five straight games and it will be interesting to see who gets the start Friday night in Swift Current.
  • What I’m really wondering ...were the Rockets that good or are the Hawks that bad? Let’s hope this is the worst the Hawks can play, because the defensive zone was a disaster. Instead of moving up the ice, the Hawks played the majority of the game playing North to South. I can’t count the number of turnovers that resulted in Rockets offensive chances.
  • A game like this can’t be good for the Rockets. Sure the team piles up points, but what type of bad habits do you pick up from a game like this? The Rockets made mistakes defensively against the Hawks, and the majority of the time got away with it. Against teams like Swift Current and Medicine Hat this weekend, those mistakes will see the puck in the back of your net.
  • The win moved the Rockets within 4 points of first place in the WHL overall standings. Just to say the Rockets were within striking distance of first place in mid January is awfully impressive.
  • The team boarded the bus immediately after the game and headed for Medicine Hat. The hockey club will practice in the Hat this afternoon, stay the night, before driving into Swift Current to play the Broncos on Friday. In the eight years I have been in Kelowna, the Rockets have stayed the night in Swift Current just twice. Both of those times were under the watch of Marc Habscheid.
  • Speaking of Habscheid, I wonder if he will show his face at Friday’s game in Swift Current? It would be awfully nice to see him again. Habscheid has been spending the winter in his hometown collecting the remaining two years of a three year contract he signed as an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins.
  • The team arrived in Medicine Hat shortly after 9 o’clock (am) local time. After a less than stellar night’s sleep during the nine hour bus trip, a shower, a tooth brush and some breakfast would suit me fine.
  • Luke Schenn, Brady McMillan and Tyler Myers flew into Medicine Hat this morning at 9:20 (am) to rejoin the team. The three took part in last night’s CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Edmonton.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gogol Gets the Call

With three players at the CHL Top Prospects Game - two of them defenseman - the Rockets have called up 16 year-old d-man Curt Gogol. Gogol is the Rockets 8th round pick from the 2006 WHL bantam draft. Gogol is playing midget hockey with the Calgary Flames (8+5=13) in 31 games this season.

Rockets Game Notes vs. Hawks

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets play the third and final game of a three game home stand tonight. The Rockets are 2-0-0-0 after back-to-back wins over Chilliwack (3-2) and Prince George (6-3). After tonight’s game the Rockets play road games in Swift Current Friday and in Medicine Hat Saturday night. The Rockets are gunning for their 30th win of the season tonight. It would mark the 13th time the Rockets franchise has had a 30 win season, in just 17 years of existence. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a season high six game home ice winning streak. The last time the Rockets won six straight games at home was February 22, 2006 to March 12, 2006. The 2005-2006 team had an 11 game home ice winning streak that season. Tonight the Rockets face the Portland Winter Hawks for the third of just four times this season. The Rockets are 2-0-0-0 after a 4-1 win in Portland November 17th, and a 4-2 home ice win December 1st. Following tonight’s game these two teams will conclude the seasonal series March 2nd in Portland. The Rockets have out-scored the Hawks 8-3 in the first two games.

Vs. The Hawks: Torrie Jung has started in goal in both games against the Hawks this season. Jung made 26 saves in a 4-1 win in Portland November 17th. Jamie Benn and Colin Long had 1+2=3 in that game. Jung made 20 saves in a 4-2 win over the Hawks December 1st. Colin Long had 2+1=3 while Luke Schenn had 3 assists.

Long Term Success: The Rockets are 10-2-0-0 against the Hawks on home ice dating back to the start of the 2002-2003 season. The Hawks only wins at Prospera Place came in a 3-2 victory in 2002 and a 6-3 win September 24, 2005.

Benn There, Done That: Rockets forward Jamie Benn is the CHL and WHL Player of the Week. Benn had 3+6=9 points in three games last week to pick up the awards. Benn had a career night Saturday collecting 6 points (2+4=6) in the Rockets 6-3 win over Prince George.

L-B-A-L=Success: Colin Long is riding a seven game point streak (3+10=13), and has points in 14 of his last 15 games (7+22=29). Jamie Benn is riding a 9 game point streak (8+13=21). Benn leads the team in power play goals with 13. Cody Almond has 46 points this season, and has tied his career high of 15 goals set all of last season. Almond has an eight game point streak (4+10=14). Brady Leavold is riding a 12 game point streak. Leavold has 12+13=25 over that period. The line of Long, Benn and Leavold have combined for 177 points this season, and have been in on 39 percent of the teams goals.

Rockets Tidbits: The Rockets are without Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers and Brandon McMillan tonight. All three are taking part in the CHL Top Prospects game in Edmonton. All three will rejoin the team in time for Friday’s game in Swift Current. All three will fly into Medicine Hat on Thursday…Rockets captain James McEwan will be getting his cast off of his wrist on January 28th. McEwan has the cast after suffering a cut, which severed two tendons on his wrist in a fight against Vancouver’s Garet Hunt. McEwan anticipates rejoining the team for the final two weeks of the regular season…While Brady Leavold’s 12 game point streak is impressive, Jesse Schultz had a 14 game point streak from December 28,2002 to January 24,2003. Schultz had 13+15=28 over that period…The Rockets lost 5 of their first 6 games at home, but since then they are 14-2-0-1…The Rockets have won 6 straight at home, with their last setback being a 4-3 loss to Kamloops on December 28th. The Rockets have out-scored their opponent 28-8 in those six home games… The Rockets have scored a power play goal in nine of their last ten games, going 17 for 61=27.9% over that period. The Rockets have allowed just 5 power play goals in 44 penalty kill opportunities in those ten games…The Rockets have points in 8 of their last 11 road games (6-3-0-2). The Rockets three road regulation losses over that period were against Kamloops (5-3), Vancouver (5-2) and Regina (4-3)…Rockets goaltender Torrie Jung has won his last 4 starts, having allowed just four goals over that period with a .955 save percentage…After the trade deadline the Rockets have the second youngest team in the WHL. Only the Prince George Cougars are younger.

Rockets vs. Divisions:

vs. BC: 18-8-0-1 vs. US: 4-5-2-0
vs. Central: 3-1-0-0 vs. East: 4-1-0-2

Rockets Schedule - Next 5 Games: Rockets Results - Last 5 Games:
Jan 25 @ Swift Current Rockets 11 Cougars 1 W
Jan 26 @ Med Hat Rockets 5 Cougars 2 W
Jan 30 vs. Everett Rockets 3 Kamloops 5 L
Feb 1 vs. Lethbridge Rockets 3 Chilliwack 2 W
Feb 2 @ Chilliwack Rockets 6 Prince George 3 W

Record by Month:
Month Games Record Home Road
September: 4 1-2-1-0 0-1-1-0 1-1-0-0
October: 11 5-5-0-1 3-3-0-1 2-2-0-0
November: 13 9-2-1-1 4-1-0-0 5-1-1-1
December: 12 6-4-0-2 2-1-0-0 4-3-0-2
January: 13 9-1-0-0 6-0-0-0 3-1-0-0
February: 11 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0

Rockets Players by Province: BC=12 US=4 ALB=3 SASK=2 MAN=1 EURO=1 Total=23

Rockets Season Highs and Lows:
Most Goals Scored: 11 @ Prince George Jan 11/08 in an 11-1 win.
Most Goals Allowed: 6 vs. Kootenay Nov 23/07 (7-6 OTW), @ Tri City November 21/07 (6-1 L)
Most Power Play Chances: 10 vs. Prince George Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, 9 @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W – 4/9) vs. Warriors Oct 27/07. Rockets were 0/9 losing 4-3 in shootout.
Most Power Play Goals Scored: 4 @ Cougars Jan 11/08 (11-1 W), vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W)
Most Power Play Goals Allowed: 4 @ Vancouver Dec 29/07 (5-2 L), @ Everett Sept 29/07
Most Shots Taken: 41 @ Prince George Jan 12/08 (5-2 W).
Fewest Shots Taken: 9 @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 (5-0L)
Most Shot Allowed: 48 @ Vancouver Sept 30/07
Fewest Shots Allowed: 13 vs. Blazers Oct 30/07 (6-1 W)
Last Shutout: - Kristofer Westblom 22 saves vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win. Kristofer Westblom 28 saves vs. Calgary (5-0 W)
Last Time Shutout: - @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 – Sexsmith 9 saves (5-0 L)
Most Points by a Player: Jamie Benn had 2+4=6 vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Most Goals by a Player: Brady Leavold scored 4 goals vs. Prince George Jan 19/08.
Penalty Shots: Lucas Bloodoff fails to score on Justin Leclerc in 4-3 loss to Kamloops December 28th. Torrie Jung stops Bruins forward Cody Smuk in a 4-1 win in Chilliwack Dec 31/07. Torrie Jung stops Hawks forward Luke Walker Nov 17/07 in a 4-1 win in Portland. Kristofer Westblom stops Everett’s Shane Harper in a 3-2 overtime loss Nov 16/07 in Everett. Torrie Jung stopped Michal Repik in the 3rd period of a 5-0 loss Sept 29/07.
Overtime Winning Goal: Jamie Benn scored at 4:59 December 15/07 in a 3-2 win in Saskatoon. Tyler Myers scored at 3:58 of overtime December 5/07 in a 4-3 win over Medicine Hat. Colin Long scored at :44 of overtime Nov 23/07 in a 7-6 win over Kootenay. Jamie Benn scored at 1:07 of overtime Nov 2/07 in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.
Shootout Game Winning Goals: Dylan Hood scores in a 4-3 win in Seattle October 6/07. Colin Long scored the game winner in a 2-1 win over Vancouver October 24th.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3 Westblom, McEwan, Leavold
19’s – 3 Dowzak, MacRae, Joe
18’s – 8 Long, Kytnar, Brusciano, L. Bloodoff, Jung, Schenn, Almond, Benn
17’s – 6 St. Denis, E. Bloodoff, McIntosh, Myers, McMillan, Hood
16’s – 4 Bowman, Barrie, Paradis, Verdino
Average Age: 17.7
Rookies – 7

NHL Draft Picks-Training Camp Attendees: Jamie Benn (Dallas 07), Torrie Jung (Tampa Bay 07), Cody Almond (Minnesota 07), Milan Kytnar (Oilers 07), Tysen Dowzak (Tryout Philadelphia).

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel (AM 1150)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • The Rockets will have three familiar faces attending the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects game Wednesday in Edmonton. Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers and Brandon McMillan are taking part in the event, which showcases the top 40 prospects across the country eligible for the upcoming draft. McMillan was a late addition to the game after a prospect was injured. All three will play Wednesday night before rejoining the Rockets Thursday in Medicine Hat. Schenn, Myers and McMillan will be in the lineup Friday in Swift Current.
  • Rockets captain James McEwan says he should have his cast taken off of his wrist by January 28th. In an interview this morning, McEwan anticipates rejoining the team on the ice by early March. McEwan underwent surgery on his wrist after having two tendons cut with the skate blade of Giants enforcer Garet Hunt.
  • Rockets coach Ryan Huska says Jamie Benn, and the Rockets number one line, played just 18 minutes in Saturday's 6-3 win over Prince George. That's a far cry from the 26 minutes the 18 year-old logged Friday night in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.
  • You will have to pardon Rockets forward Brady Leavold if he is overly excited to get on the bus following Wednesday's game against Portland. The overage forward, who is having a sensational season, will no doubt want to put in a good effort Friday when he faces the Broncos in Swift Current. Leavold began his WHL career in Swift Current, and too say it was a rocky relationship would be an understatement. Despite his love-hate relationship with the city, Leavold still has friends and foes on a team that he suited up for 133 games.
  • I had a great conversation with Chris Ray on the weekend. The former Kelowna Rockets captain is enjoying his first season of university hockey, playing at the University of Waterloo. Ray, who is just a season removed from his days as a Rocket, had to undergo a hernia operation November 23rd, forcing him to the sidelines for a month. I will post the interview next week.
  • Speaking of former Rockets alumni, David Schulz will be my guest Friday night on Western Hockey League Primetime when the Rockets face the Swift Current Broncos. The former Rockets/Broncos defenseman is now playing in the East Coast Hockey League down in Texas. Schulz is currently sidelined with a separated shoulder.
  • If everything goes according to plan, I will be joined by Blake Comeau Saturday night in Medicine Hat. Unless you've had your head in the sand, Comeau is playing with the New York Islanders. 'Creep', as he was affectionately known in these parts in his days in a Rockets uniform has 2+2=4 in 16 games this season. Comeau is just 21 years old.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Long-Benn-Leavold - Best Rockets Line Ever?


It's time for the great debate. Is the line of Colin Long, Jamie Benn and Brady Leavold the best line the Rockets have ever had in Kelowna? Some say the trio rivals only that of the Rockets number one line of Jesse Schultz, Tyler Mosienko and Kiel McLeod from the 2002-2003 season. That line was a key in leading the Rockets to a WHL title that season.

So let's do it. Let's compare the two lines statistically.

Long, Benn and Leavold have combined for 177 points this season. The three man unit has scored 70 goals, collected 107 assists for 177 points in just 140 games combined. The trio of Schultz, McLeod and Mosienko had 122 goals, 155 assists for 277 points in 206 games in 2002-2003. With 22 games left in the regular season, Long is on pace for a 107 point season. Benn is on pace for a 83 point season while Leavold is projected to finish the year with 70 points. Add the three projected point totals together and you get 260 points, just 17 points fewer than the Rockets top line in 2002-2003. What's interesting is if Long, Benn and Leavold play in the Rockets final 22 games this season, the three-some will have played a combined 206 games, the same number that Schultz, McLeod and Mosienko played on their way to a regular season title. What are the chances? In this case, good!

Some random observations I have about the Long-Benn-Leavold line:

  • The three players have combined to score 39 percent of the team's goals this season.
  • After speaking to the GM of the LA Kings, why wouldn't someone take a chance on drafting Colin Long? Selecting an undrafted 18 year-old is nothing new. Just look at Chilliwack's Mark Santorelli as an example. Santorelli was not drafted as a 17 year-old - the same goes for Long. Santorelli was never identified by NHL Central Scouting on any of the three lists of the top eligible players for last seasons draft - Long hasn't been mentioned once this season. Yet Mark Santorelli was drafted as a 18 year-old by the Nashville Predators in the 4th round of this summer draft. Will Colin Long follow a similar path? I'm thinking so.
  • Did Brady Leavold suffer from an identity crisis early on in his WHL career? Why then did Leavold play such a gritty game in his first three seasons with the Swift Current Broncos? Was he asked to play that way, in essence losing sight of the skilled player he really is? Don't get me wrong, Leavold must not lose the gritty side of his game - he's extremely effective when he plays that way - but the overage forward has proven without a shadow of a doubt he is more than just a lunch bucket player who provides sandpaper on the Rockets top unit.
  • How happy are the Dallas Stars with Jamie Benn's performance this season. To make the jump to major junior, lead the league in rookie scoring, and put up 27 goals - he's on pace to score 40 - has to put a smile on an NHL team that took him in the 5th round.
  • It's been bothering me for a little while now. Shouldn't this line have a name? How about the network line? I'll explain. Jamie Benn, Brady Leavold and Colin Long. Get it? BBC. Much like the British Broadcasting Corporation, the 'network line' would fit. To prove my point, Benn is from Victoria British Columbia, Leavold is from Port Coquitlam British Columbia and Long is from California. Again BBC. Once again the 'network line' appears to fit. Help me out here if you have a better suggestion?

Happy 19th birthday to Rockets goaltender Torrie Jung

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Leo Roars in Rockets Win



  • It was a career night for Brady Leavold. The overage forward extended his point streak to 12 games with four goals and an assist in a 6-3 win over the Prince George Cougars. It was Leavold's first ever four goal game, and was the first by a Rocket since Jason Deleurme had four goals December 17, 1997 in a win over Seattle. Prior to last night's game Leavold had never registered a WHL hat trick.
  • Leavold's 12 game point streak is the longest for a Rockets player since Jesse Schultz had a 14 game point streak from December 28, 2002 to January 24, 2003.
  • Leavold has scored 20 goals this season, and could frankly have more if he would shoot the puck. Leavold often finds himself passing the puck off to Long or Benn, when a little more selfishness would serve his team and himself better.
  • Jamie Benn had a 6 point night, with two goals and four assists. The last Rocket to even come close to a 6 point effort was Blake Comeau, who had two goals and three assist for a five point night October 30, 2005 against Spokane. Josh Gorges also had five points December 7, 2003 against the Kamloops Blazers. As mentioned below in the comments section, two Rockets have collected five points in a game this season.
  • The line of Leavold, Benn and Colin Long combined for 15 points. Long chipped in with four assists. The only other play to show up on the score sheet in Saturday's win was Cody Almond, who had an assist on Leavold's 4th goal of the game in the third period.
  • Despite the 6-3 score, the Cougars deserve some credit for getting back in this game despite being down 3-0 after one period. The Cougars would storm back with back-to-back goals to make it a one goal game, before Leavold's hattrick marker with exactly one minute left in the second period took any momentum away from the road team.
  • The Rockets have won 6 straight on home ice, a season high, while the Cougars have lost eight straight on the road.
  • How good have the Rockets been at home lately? The Rockets lost 5 of their first 6 home games this season. Since then the team has lost just twice in regulation time in their last 17 home games. The Rockets are 14-2-0-1 over that period. The two regulation losses at home are to Kamloops and Prince George.
  • Torrie Jung is expected to start Wednesday against Portland. Jung was a back up to Kristofer Westblom Saturday night after suffering a back injury in practice Monday. Jung was in his street clothes Friday night though in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack, meaning Rockets listed player Daniel Salamandyk provided Westblom's back up in the one goal win.
  • LA Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi was in attendance at Saturday's game. Lombardi and his scouting staff are actually holding meetings up in Kelowna this weekend, meaning the entire Kings scouting crew were keeping a close eye on Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers, Brandon McMillan and other draft eligible players. Something tells me they liked what they saw from all three prospects. So much so, Lombardi held back when I pressed him for some thoughts on the three above mentioned players in a second period intermission interview. I will attempt to post the audio of that interview this week if you are interested?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rockets Game Notes vs. Cougars

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets play game two of a three game home stand tonight against the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets host the Cougars tonight before facing off at home against Portland on Wednesday. Last night the Rockets were a 3-2 winner over the Chilliwack Bruins. Cody Almond, Brady Leavold and Evan Bloodoff scored for the Rockets, in the team’s 28th win of the season. The win extended the Rockets winning streak on home ice to five games. Tonight the Rockets face the Cougars for the 7th of 8 times this season. The Rockets are 5-1-0-0 in the previous six meetings, out-scoring the Cougars 36-9. The Rockets are playing the 12th game of 12 straight against an opponent in the BC division. The Rockets are 8-3-0-0 over that period.

Vs. The Cougars: The Rockets have out-shot the Cougars in all six games this season. The Rockets have fired 210 shots at the Cougars net this season for an average of 35 shots per game. The Cougars have managed 125 shots, for an average of 20.8 per game in the seasonal series. The Rockets are 17 for 30=56.7% in the first six games, while the Cougars are 6 for 32=18.8% against the Rockets penalty kill. In three of the six games the Rockets have scored no less than four power play goals.

Period Scoring Breakdown vs. Cougars:
Period 1 2 3 OT SO Total
Rockets: 14 10 12 0 0 36
Cougars: 3 4 2 0 0 9

Leading the Pack: Colin Long is riding a six game point streak (3+6=9), and has points in 13 of his last 14 games (7+18=25). Jamie Benn is riding a 8 game point streak (6+9=15). Benn leads the team in power play goals with 12. Cody Almond has 45 points this season, and has tied his career high of 15 goals set all of last season. Almond has a seven game point streak (4+9=13). Brady Leavold is riding an 11 game point streak. Leavold has 8+12=20 over that period. The line of Long, Benn and Leavold are a combined +75. Both Almond, Leavold and Benn have 8 goals since the Christmas break.

Rockets Tidbits: Jamie Benn has an 8 point lead on Brandon’s Brayden Schenn and Calgary’s T.J Galiardi for the WHL points lead among rookies. Who was the last Rocket to lead the WHL in rookie scoring? Scott King had 97 points during the 1996-97 season, four more than Regina’s Dmitri Nabokov. King left the University of Boston to play for the Rockets that season as a 19 year-old rookie…The Rockets have scored 59 power play goals this season, two more than the 57 they scored all of last season with the extra man…The Rockets have won 5 straight at home, with their last setback being a 4-3 loss to Kamloops on December 28th. The Rockets have out-scored their opponent 22-5 in those five home games… The Rockets have scored a power play goal in eight of their last nine games, going 15 for 53=28.3% over that period. The Rockets have allowed just 4 power play goals in 37 penalty kill opportunities in those 9 games…The Rockets have 14 games left on home ice, and just 10 on the road…The Rockets have points in 8 of their last 11 road games (6-3-0-2). The Rockets three road regulation losses over that period were against Kamloops (5-3), Vancouver (5-2) and Regina (4-3)…The Rockets have scored the most goals in the WHL (175), and have scored 19 more goals than they had all of last season…Brandon McMillan has a five game point streak (2+5=7)…Kyle St Denis had a six game point streak snapped last night against Chilliwack. St. Denis had (4+6=10) over that period…Tyson Dowzak is a +10 in his last 12 games….The Rockets now have 14 wins at home and 14 on the road…Rockets goaltender Torrie Jung has won his last 4 starts , having allowed just four goals over that period with a .955 save percentage…After the trade deadline the Rockets have the second youngest team in the WHL. Only the Prince George Cougars are younger.

Rockets vs. Divisions:

vs. BC: 17-8-0-1 vs. US: 4-5-2-0
vs. Central: 3-1-0-0 vs. East: 4-1-0-2

Rockets Schedule - Next 5 Games: Rockets Results - Last 5 Games:
Jan 23 vs. Portland Rockets 3 Chilliwack 1 W
Jan 25 @ Swift Current Rockets 11 Cougars 1 W
Jan 26 @ Med Hat Rockets 5 Cougars 2 W
Jan 30 vs. Everett Rockets 3 Kamloops 5 L
Feb 1 vs. Lethbridge Rockets 3 Chiliwack 2 W

Record by Month:
Month Games Record Home Road
September: 4 1-2-1-0 0-1-1-0 1-1-0-0
October: 11 5-5-0-1 3-3-0-1 2-2-0-0
November: 13 9-2-1-1 4-1-0-0 5-1-1-1
December: 12 6-4-0-2 2-1-0-0 4-3-0-2
January: 13 8-1-0-0 5-0-0-0 3-1-0-0
February: 11 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0

Rockets Players by Province: BC=12 US=4 ALB=3 SASK=2 MAN=1 EURO=1 Total=23

Rockets Season Highs and Lows:
Most Goals Scored: 11 @ Prince George Jan 11/08 in an 11-1 win.
Most Goals Allowed: 6 vs. Kootenay Nov 23/07 (7-6 OTW), @ Tri City November 21/07 (6-1 L)
Most Power Play Chances: 10 vs. Prince George Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, 9 @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W – 4/9) vs. Warriors Oct 27/07. Rockets were 0/9 losing 4-3 in shootout.
Most Power Play Goals Scored: 4 @ Cougars Jan 11/08 (11-1 W), vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W)
Most Power Play Goals Allowed: 4 @ Vancouver Dec 29/07 (5-2 L), @ Everett Sept 29/07
Most Shots Taken: 41 @ Prince George Jan 12/08 (5-2 W).
Fewest Shots Taken: 9 @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 (5-0L)
Most Shot Allowed: 48 @ Vancouver Sept 30/07
Fewest Shots Allowed: 13 vs. Blazers Oct 30/07 (6-1 W)
Last Shutout: - Kristofer Westblom 22 saves vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win. Kristofer Westblom 28 saves vs. Calgary (5-0 W)
Last Time Shutout: - @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 – Sexsmith 9 saves (5-0 L)
Penalty Shots: Lucas Bloodoff fails to score on Justin Leclerc in 4-3 loss to Kamloops December 28th. Torrie Jung stops Bruins forward Cody Smuk in a 4-1 win in Chilliwack Dec 31/07. Torrie Jung stops Hawks forward Luke Walker Nov 17/07 in a 4-1 win in Portland. Kristofer Westblom stops Everett’s Shane Harper in a 3-2 overtime loss Nov 16/07 in Everett. Torrie Jung stopped Michal Repik in the 3rd period of a 5-0 loss Sept 29/07.
Overtime Winning Goal: Jamie Benn scored at 4:59 December 15/07 in a 3-2 win in Saskatoon. Tyler Myers scored at 3:58 of overtime December 5/07 in a 4-3 win over Medicine Hat. Colin Long scored at :44 of overtime Nov 23/07 in a 7-6 win over Kootenay. Jamie Benn scored at 1:07 of overtime Nov 2/07 in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.
Shootout Game Winning Goals: Dylan Hood scores in a 4-3 win in Seattle October 6/07. Colin Long scored the game winner in a 2-1 win over Vancouver October 24th.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3 Westblom, McEwan, Leavold
19’s – 3 Dowzak, MacRae, Joe
18’s – 8 Long, Kytnar, Brusciano, L. Bloodoff, Jung, Schenn, Almond, Benn
17’s – 6 St. Denis, E. Bloodoff, McIntosh, Myers, McMillan, Hood
16’s – 4 Bowman, Barrie, Paradis, Verdino
Average Age: 17.7
Rookies – 7

NHL Draft Picks-Training Camp Attendees: Jamie Benn (Dallas 07), Torrie Jung (Tampa Bay 07), Cody Almond (Minnesota 07), Milan Kytnar (Oilers 07), Tysen Dowzak (Tryout Philadelphia).

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel (AM 1150)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rockets Game Notes vs. Bruins

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets open a three game home stand tonight against the Chilliwack Bruins. The Rockets host Prince George tomorrow night before facing the Portland Winter Hawks next Wednesday. The Rockets concluded a three game road trip Tuesday night with a 5-3 loss in Kamloops. Jamie Benn scored his team leading 25th goal of the season in the Rockets 14th loss of the campaign. Colin Long chipped in with two assists while Brady Leavold and Brandon McMillan also lit the lamp for the Rockets. The loss snapped the Rockets season high 7 game winning streak. The Rockets out-scored the opposition 39-7 over that period. Tonight’s game against the Bruins is the 6th of 10 meetings between these two teams this season. The Rockets are 4-1-0-0 in the first five games, out-scoring the Bruins 15-10. After tonight’s game the two teams meet again February 2nd in Chilliwack before clashing again in Kelowna February 9th. The Rockets are playing the 11th game of 12 straight against an opponent in the BC division. The Rockets are 7-3-0-0 over that period.

Bruising Up the Bruins: The Rockets are 4 for 18=22.2% on the power play in the seasonal series against the Bruins. Chilliwack is 5 for 22=22.7% with the extra man against Kelowna. The Rockets have out-shot the Bruins in 3 of the 5 games this season. The Rockets have 141 shots on goal, an average of 28.2 per game. The Bruins have 128 shots on the Rockets net, for an average of 25.6 per game. Kristofer Westblom has started in 4 of the 5 games against the Bruins in the seasonal series.

Period Scoring Breakdown vs. Bruins:
Period 1 2 3 OT SO Total
Rockets: 4 7 3 1 0 15
Bruins: 3 4 3 0 0 10

The Big 4: Colin Long has 69 points this season, 41 points more than a year ago. Long’s 23 goals are over double the 11 he scored as a 17 year-old. Long is riding a modest five game point streak (3+5=8), and has points in 12 of his last 13 games (7+17=24). Jamie Benn is riding a 7 game point streak (6+8=14), and is a plus 7 over that period. Benn leads the WHL in rookie scoring, 7 points better than Calgary’s T.J Galiardi. Cody Almond has 44 points this season, one more than he had all of last season. Almond is one goal shy of his career high of 15 goals set a year ago. Almond has a six game point streak (3+9=12), and is a +6 in his last 9 games. Brady Leavold has 41 points this season, six more than his career best of 35 points set with the Swift Current Broncos in the 2006-2007 season. Leavold also set a career high with his 15th goal of the season Tuesday night in Kamloops. Leavold is riding a 9 game point streak. Leavold has 7+12=19 over that period, and is a plus 10 over those 9 games.

Rockets Tidbits: The Rockets have won 4 straight at home, with their last setback being a 4-3 loss to Kamloops on December 28th. The Rockets have out-scored their opponent 19-3 in those four home games… The Rockets have scored a power play goal in eight straight games, going 15 for 48=31.3% over that period. The Rockets have allowed just 3 power play goals in 33 penalty kill opportunities in those 8 games…The Rockets have 15 games left on home ice, and just 10 on the road… Colin Long is tied with Chilliwack’s Mark Santorelli for the WHL points lead…The Rockets have points in 8 of their last 11 road games (6-3-0-2). The Rockets three road regulation losses over that period were against Kamloops (5-3), Vancouver (5-2) and Regina (4-3)…The Rockets have scored the most goals in the WHL (172), and have scored 16 more goals than they had all of last season…Kyle St Denis has a six game point streak (4+6=10)…Tyson Dowzak is a +9 in his last 11 games….The Rockets now have 13 wins at home and 14 on the road…Rockets goaltender Torrie Jung has won his last 4 starts , having allowed just four goals over that period with a .955 save percentage…After the trade deadline the Rockets have the second youngest team in the WHL. Only the Prince George Cougars are younger.

Rockets vs. Divisions:

vs. BC: 16-8-0-1 vs. US: 4-5-2-0
vs. Central: 3-1-0-0 vs. East: 4-1-0-2

Rockets Schedule - Next 5 Games: Rockets Results - Last 5 Games:
Jan 19 vs. PG Rockets 6 Kamloops 1 W
Jan 23 vs. Portland Rockets 3 Chilliwack 1 W
Jan 25 @ Swift Current Rockets 11 Cougars 1 W
Jan 26 @ Med Hat Rockets 5 Cougars 2 W
Jan 30 vs. Everett Rockets 3 Kamloops 5 L

Record by Month:
Month Games Record Home Road
September: 4 1-2-1-0 0-1-1-0 1-1-0-0
October: 11 5-5-0-1 3-3-0-1 2-2-0-0
November: 13 9-2-1-1 4-1-0-0 5-1-1-1
December: 12 6-4-0-2 2-1-0-0 4-3-0-2
January: 13 7-1-0-0 4-0-0-0 3-1-0-0
February: 11 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0

Rockets Players by Province: BC=12 US=4 ALB=3 SASK=2 MAN=1 EURO=1 Total=23

Rockets Season Highs and Lows:
Most Goals Scored: 11 @ Prince George Jan 11/08 in an 11-1 win.
Most Goals Allowed: 6 vs. Kootenay Nov 23/07 (7-6 OTW), @ Tri City November 21/07 (6-1 L)
Most Power Play Chances: 10 vs. Prince George Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, 9 @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W – 4/9) vs. Warriors Oct 27/07. Rockets were 0/9 losing 4-3 in shootout.
Most Power Play Goals Scored: 4 @ Cougars Jan 11/08 (11-1 W), vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win, @ PG Nov 10/07 (6-1 W)
Most Power Play Goals Allowed: 4 @ Vancouver Dec 29/07 (5-2 L), @ Everett Sept 29/07
Most Shots Taken: 41 @ Prince George Jan 12/08 (5-2 W).
Fewest Shots Taken: 9 @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 (5-0L)
Most Shot Allowed: 48 @ Vancouver Sept 30/07
Fewest Shots Allowed: 13 vs. Blazers Oct 30/07 (6-1 W)
Last Shutout: - Kristofer Westblom 22 saves vs. Cougars Jan 4/08 in a 6-0 win. Kristofer Westblom 28 saves vs. Calgary (5-0 W)
Last Time Shutout: - @ Vancouver Sept 29/07 – Sexsmith 9 saves (5-0 L)
Penalty Shots: Lucas Bloodoff fails to score on Justin Leclerc in 4-3 loss to Kamloops December 28th. Torrie Jung stops Bruins forward Cody Smuk in a 4-1 win in Chilliwack Dec 31/07. Torrie Jung stops Hawks forward Luke Walker Nov 17/07 in a 4-1 win in Portland. Kristofer Westblom stops Everett’s Shane Harper in a 3-2 overtime loss Nov 16/07 in Everett. Torrie Jung stopped Michal Repik in the 3rd period of a 5-0 loss Sept 29/07.
Overtime Winning Goal: Jamie Benn scored at 4:59 December 15/07 in a 3-2 win in Saskatoon. Tyler Myers scored at 3:58 of overtime December 5/07 in a 4-3 win over Medicine Hat. Colin Long scored at :44 of overtime Nov 23/07 in a 7-6 win over Kootenay. Jamie Benn scored at 1:07 of overtime Nov 2/07 in a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.
Shootout Game Winning Goals: Dylan Hood scores in a 4-3 win in Seattle October 6/07. Colin Long scored the game winner in a 2-1 win over Vancouver October 24th.

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3 Westblom, McEwan, Leavold
19’s – 3 Dowzak, MacRae, Joe
18’s – 8 Long, Kytnar, Brusciano, L. Bloodoff, Jung, Schenn, Almond, Benn
17’s – 6 St. Denis, E. Bloodoff, McIntosh, Myers, McMillan, Hood
16’s – 4 Bowman, Barrie, Paradis, Verdino
Average Age: 17.7
Rookies – 7

NHL Draft Picks-Training Camp Attendees: Jamie Benn (Dallas 07), Torrie Jung (Tampa Bay 07), Cody Almond (Minnesota 07), Milan Kytnar (Oilers 07), Tysen Dowzak (Tryout Philadelphia).

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel (AM 1150)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • Why did Troy Ofukany ask for a trade out of Regina? The former Rocket reportedly asked to be dealt at the deadline, but I am sure Red Deer wasn't his first choice. Instead of sulking at playing on a last place team, Ofukany has 4 goals and 3 assists for 7 points in 5 games with the Rebels.
  • Rockets fans, you can read Gregg Drinnan's blog where he chats with GM Bruce Hamilton. Drinnan has quotes from Hamilton on the development of Colin Long, and the thought process behind not trading overage injured captain James McEwan at the trade deadline.
  • Rockets rookie forward Jamie Benn scored his 25th goal of the season Tuesday in a 5-3 loss in Kamloops. Who was the last Rocket to score 25 goals in his rookie season? Justin Keller had 25 goals as a 17 year-old back in 2003-2004 season. Keller would score 51 goals two years later.
  • Rockets goaltender Torrie Jung did not practice Wednesday, as he rebounds from a back injury suffered during warm-up prior to Tuesday's game against the Blazers. While the injury isn't serious, the coaching staff though it would best to have Jung on the trainers table than working out with the team. Whether he is ready to start Friday against Chilliwack is up in the air.
  • Rockets forward Milan Kytnar didn't practice Wednesday either. The 18 year-old European forward sprained his ankle in Tuesday's loss, and is doubtful for home games this weekend against the Wack and Prince George.
  • I still have a positive take from Tuesday's loss in the Loops. Despite the loss, the Rockets spent a good portion of the game in the offensive zone, created good offensive chances. While the 7 game winning streak is over, it's time to start a new one.
  • Remember J.J Hunter? The former Kelowna Rockets forward is now playing senior hockey in Southwest Saskatchewan. J.J is playing with the Shaunavon Badgers of the White Mud Hockey League. No joke, that's the name of the league. J.J is playing alongside his brother, former Swift Current Broncos Luke Hunter. J.J's younger brother Brock also plays on that team. Luke leads the WMHL in scoring with 29+24=53 in just 13 games while J.J is a point back with 23+29=52 in just 12 games. Who's the third leading scorer in the league? Former Portland Winter Hawk/Swift Current Broncos forward Todd Hornung, who has 16+23=39 with the Eastend Jets.
  • Dan Russell and Bill Wilms are back in Kelowna Friday night as Shaw broadcasts the Rockets/Bruins game. David Michaud and I were laughing as we listened to Russell's Sportstalk Wednesday night while driving back from Kamloops. Dan had a caller on the line who was defending Roberto Luongo for not attending the NHL All-Star game. Russell wouldn't hear anything of it. The debate was comical. Russell worked the caller like a prize fighter. It was great radio.
  • Speaking of Michaud, the big fella will make his WHL play-by-play debut next Wednesday when the Portland Winter Hawks are in Kelowna. Hawks radio man Andy Kemper is unable to attend the game, so Michaud has offered his services.