Friday, October 31, 2008

Rockets Game Notes vs. Hurricanes

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets have won four of their last five games heading into tonight’s contest against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. This is the fourth game of a five game home-stand for the Rockets, who are 2-1-0-0 with wins over Chilliwack (6-0) and Seattle (7-3) and a loss to Brandon (3-2). The Rockets are coming off a 7-3 win over Seattle Wednesday. Colin Long, Jamie Benn and Lucas Bloodoff combined for 11 points in the win. Long and Benn each had a goal and three assists while Bloodoff had two goals and a helper. Kris Lazaruk started the game in goal before being relieved of his duties by Adam Brown in the second period. Following tonight’s game the Rockets host the Edmonton Oil Kings in a rare Sunday afternoon home game. It’s the only Sunday game the Rockets will play at home this season. Tonight’s game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes is the second meeting of the season between the two teams. These two teams met in Lethbridge back on October 4th with the Hurricanes earning a 7-3 win.

Numbing Numbers: Lucas Bloodoff’s three point night (2+1=3) against the Seattle Thunderbirds wasn’t the first time the Rockets forward has managed the feat. Bloodoff had 2+1=3 October 30/07 against the Kamloops Blazers…Jamie Benn’s four points (1+3=4) Wednesday night was the 4th time in his career he’s managed 4 points. Benn had a 6 point night 2+4=6 against the Prince George Cougars on January 18/08 of last season…Colin Long’s four point effort (1+3=4) Wednesday wasn’t a career high. Long had five points against Brandon (2+3=5) and Portland (0+5=5) last season....Benn has 12-2 goal games in his career, yet has never recorded a hattrick.

Mr. Brown Without a Frown: Rockets rookie goaltender Adam Brown is 5-0-0-0 this season. Brown has wins over Seattle (twice), Chilliwack (twice) and Prince George. Brown is the first Rockets rookie goaltender in franchise history to win the first five games he’s started. Brown was granted a free-agent tryout with the Rockets after playing midget hockey last season in Dallas Texas. Brown was originally listed by the Lethbridge Hurricanes, but was dropped because he told them he didn’t want to play there.

Two Head to ADT: Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers have been named to team WHL, which will face the Russians in the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge next month. Games will be played in Swift Current and Prince Albert Saskatchewan.

Benn P-O-W: Rockets forward Jamie Benn is the Western Hockey League Player of the Week. Benn had 9 points in three games last week, helping the Rockets to a record of 2-1-0-0. Benn had 5 goals and 4 assists and was a +1 over those three games.

Cap’n Colin: The Rockets announced last Thursday that 19 year-old Colin Long has been named the captain for 2008-2009. Long becomes the 17th captain in Rockets history. Long’s assistants are Jamie Benn, Cody Almond and Lucas Bloodoff. Long was the Rockets 11th round pick in the 2004 WHL draft.

Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 6-1-0-0 at home this season, having out-scored the opposition 35-14. The Rockets had a seven game home ice winning streak snapped last Saturday night with a 3-2 setback to Brandon. Prior to the loss, the Rockets last setback at home was a 2-0 loss to the Tri City Americans March 8/08.

That’s a Fact Jack: The Rockets have scored the most power play goals in the WHL this season. The Rockets have scored 29 goals with the extra man…Jamie Benn has 11 goals in his last 8 games. Benn has 11+9=20 over that period. Benn is riding a 8 game point streak over that period….Colin Long enters tonight’s game with 158 career points and played in his 177th career game tonight…The Rockets have scored a power play goal in 16 of the team’s 17 games this season. The only game where the Rockets were held off the score-sheet with the extra man was in a 4-1 loss in Medicine Hat…Kris Lazaruk has started 13 of the Rockets 17 games this season…Adam Brown has started in three of the last five. Brown is 5-0-0-0 as a starter….The Rockets have played in just four-one goal game this season. Those games were a 3-2 win against Seattle, a 2-1 loss in Portland in game #2, a 5-4 win in game #4 and a 3-2 loss to Brandon Saturday night…Tyson Barrie leads the WHL in scoring by defenseman. Barrie has 20 points. Fifteen of Barrie’s 20 points this season have been on the power play (5+10=15).
Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Cody Almond has points in eight of his last eleven games. Almond has 4+5=9 over that period. Almond is playing in his 176th career game tonight. Kyle St. Denis has 5+8=13 in his last eight games. Colin Long has been held off the scoreboard by Brandon, Lethbridge and Vancouver this season. Jamie Benn has 47 goals in just 65 career games. Tyson Barrie has points in eleven of his first seventeen games. Kyle Verdino, Collin Bowman and Kyle St. Denis lead the Rockets with a +6 rating.

Dare to Compare: Last season the Rockets were 9-6-1-1 in their first seventeen games. The Rockets scored 55 goals in their first seventeen games last season. After seventeen games a year ago the Rockets had allowed 53 goals against. The Rockets are 4 and 6 on the road this season, having been out-scored 40-34. Last year after ten road games the Rockets were 6-3-0-1, and outscored the opposition 35-27.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • What's Tysen Dowzak's mindset coming back to the Rockets? Dowzak's stint in the pro's before being moved back to junior shouldn't be considered a failure, but as an opportunity to be a stabilizing force on a pretty good team. Dowzak is now a top 4 defenseman, something he moved in and out of last season. I thought Dowzak's play in the first half of last season was great, before it tailed off in the second half. Why that happened is any ones guess, but the Rockets can only benefit from his veteran presence on a defensive core that consisted of 5-17 year-olds and two 18 year-olds.
  • It was a tough call for Rockets head coach Ryan Huska Wednesday night to pull goaltender Kris Lazaruk from the game when the T-Birds tied the game at two. Do I think it was the right move? Yes. I didn't like either goals Lazaruk gave up, yet it would have been interesting to see the veteran goaltender battle through that adversity and bounce back after two suspect goals. Yet points are paramount at any time during the season, so do you take the gamble by keeping him in with the possibility of the trend of soft goals continuing?
  • Congrats to Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers for being named to Team WHL for the A-D-T Canada/Russia Challenge next month. Benn and Myers will play in both or one of the two games November 26th and 27th in Swift Current or Prince Albert. The two games are a platform for Benn and Myers to make one more impression on the Team Canada scouting staff in an effort to get an invite to the World Junior teams main camp in December.
  • The last Rockets player to participate in the A-D-T Canada/Russian Challenge was Luke Schenn.
  • Cam Ward is another goaltender that came close to winning his first 5 starts as a WHL rookie. Ward was 4-0-0-0 with a tie in his first 5 starts as a new face with the Red Deer Rebels in 2000-2001. Rockets goaltender Adam Brown is 5-0-0-0 as a starter in his first season in the WHL.
  • Jamie Benn is on pace to score 72 goals this season. Scary! The last player to score 72+ goals in the WHL was Pavel Brendl, who scored 73 times with the Calgary Hitmen in 1998-99.
  • Benn and Long are one-two in league scoring. When was the last time teammates were one-two in league scoring? It was 2006-2007 when Eric Fehr and Ryan Stone were 1-2 in league scoring with the Brandon Wheat Kings.
  • Seattle Thunderbirds GM Russ Farwell can sympathize with the Rockets after losing Luke Schenn at the tender age of 18. Farwell lost Patrick Marleau to the San Jose Sharks as an 18 year-old back in 1997. Marleau was taken 2nd overall by the Sharks that season. Marleau put up 51 goals and collecting 125 points in his draft year.
  • In speaking to Farwell Wednesday night, he reminisced about being the GM of the Medicine Hat Tigers and watching one of his players come back to junior after playing 31 NHL games. That may not sound odd, but that player than stuck around for yet another year for more seasoning. Murray Craven - the Detroit Red Wings #1 pick in 1982 - started the season with the Wings in 1983-84 only to be sent back to junior. Upon Craven's return, the centreman would collect 46 points in the Tigers final 28 regular season games. You would think Craven would automatically move up to the Wings the very next year, yet Detroit again sent him back to the WHL where he'd score 38 goals and pick up 94 points. The mistake to push Craven into the NHL at a young age killed his confidence. After just 15 games in 1983-84 with the Wings, he was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers. Three years later (with the Flyers) Craven would score a career high 30 goals.
  • Congrats to Mitch Fritz for making his NHL debut Thursday for the New York Islanders. Fritz played 110 games with the Kelowna Rockets over two seasons and after 8 years in the minors, the 6'8 250 forward got his big break playing on a line with Nate Thompson and Richard Park.

He's Backl!

Tysen Dowzak is coming back to the Kelowna Rockets. The New York Rangers informed the Rockets he will be returning to the WHL despite signing a entry level NHL contract. Dowzak now joins Kris Lazaruk as the two overage players on the Rockets roster this season. Dowzak will be in the lineup Saturday against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

11 Points For #1 Line

  • The Rockets number one line of Jamie Benn, Lucas Bloodoff and Colin Long combined for 11 points in a 7-3 win over Seattle. Benn and Long each had 1+3=4 while Bloodoff had 2+1=3 and got into a fight in the second period.
  • Benn now leads the WHL points parade with 27. Long is a close second with 26.
  • Adam Brown came into the game in relief of starter Kris Lazaruk after the T-Birds tied the game at 2. Brown would make 19 saves, allowing just the one goal, for his 5th straight win of his young WHL career. According to my research, no rookie goaltender with the Kelowna Rockets has ever managed to win their first five starts. Kristofer Westblom came close in 2004-2005 with a record of 3 wins, a tie and a loss in his first five starts. Westbom would lose just once in 18 starts that season, going 12-1-1 with four ties and four shutouts.
  • The only goaltender that comes close to winning his first five career starts is Kamloops Blazers netminder Kenric Exner. Exner went 24 starts in his rookie season in 1998-99 without losing a game. Exner had 3 wins and two ties in his first five career starts.
  • Why would Kris Lazaruk be pulled in a 2-2 game? Well the Rockets had a 2-0 lead after the first period only to see the T-Birds score two goals on their first four shots of the second period. The tieing goal by Jim O'Brien came after a Prab Rai slap shot from just inside the blueline that Lazaruk stopped, but issued a huge rebound that bounced off of O'Brien and into the net.
  • Brown's 2nd period relief appearance came as a surprise to the rookie goaltender, who was wearing brand new white pads during warmup. After Brown came away without allowing a goal on the 8 shots he faced in the second period, the 17 year-old quickly changed to his old pads, which my guess were a little more worked in, for the third period.
  • Rookie defenseman Curt Gogol jumped out of the comfort zone with a first period fight with T-Birds forward Chris Cloud. The 17 year-old held his ground against the 20 year-old Cloud. It's small moves like that, that catch the eye of the coaching staff and tend to earn you more ice time.
  • Both Dylan Hood and Evan Bloodoff had tremendous goals in this one. Hood's goal came after great speed to the outside before backhanding the puck past a startled T-Birds goaltender Jacob DeSerrres. Evan Bloodoff's goal also was the result of great speed during a race for a loose puck just inside the T-Birds blueline. Bloodoff won the battle to the puck, skated in on a clear cut breakaway and deposited the puck high over DeSerres blocker side.
  • The TBirds looked out of sync. For a skilled team they struggled passing, and created very few odd man rushes with their speed. For a team that has very few changes from a season ago, they play more as individuals that as a team. I can't point my finger on it, but this T-Bird team should be much better than it's record shows. I will cut them some slack with a wicked road schedule to start the season.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rockets Game Notes vs. Seattle

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets play game three of a five game home-stand tonight against the Seattle Thunderbirds. It’s the second of four meetings between these two teams this season. The Rockets were a 3-2 winner over the T-Birds in Seattle back on October 18th. Colin Long, Stepan Novotny and Lucas Bloodoff scored goals for the Rockets, who out-shot the T-Birds 30-18. The Rockets were 1/7 on the power play while the T-Birds were 1 for 5. After tonight’s game the two teams meet again January 7th before closing out the seasonal series in Kent Washington on January 31/09. The Rockets had a five game home ice winning streak snapped Saturday night with a 3-2 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Jamie Benn and Tyson Barrie each scored power play goals in the setback. Kris Lazaruk suffered the loss in goal making 27 saves. Following tonight’s game the Rockets host Lethbridge Saturday night before a rare Sunday afternoon home date (5 pm) against the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Rockets next road game is Tuesday November 4th against the Tri City Americans.

Mr. Brown Without a Frown: Rockets rookie goaltender Adam Brown is 4-0-0-0 this season. Brown has wins over Seattle, Chilliwack (twice) and Prince George. Brown has recorded back-to-back shutouts and has not allowed a goal in 139 minutes and 4 seconds. The last goal Brown allowed was to Seattle’s Chris Cloud when the T-Bird forward scored a shorthanded goal at 19:56 of the second period on October 18th.

Benn P-O-W: Rockets forward Jamie Benn is the Western Hockey League Player of the Week. Benn had 9 points in three games last week, helping the Rockets to a record of 2-1-0-0. Benn had 5 goals and 4 assists and was a +1 over those three games. Benn is tied for the league lead in goals with 13.

Cap’n Colin: The Rockets announced last Thursday that 19 year-old Colin Long has been named the captain for 2008-2009. Long becomes the 17th captain in Rockets history. Long’s assistants are Jamie Benn, Cody Almond and Lucas Bloodoff. Long was the Rockets 11th round pick in the 2004 WHL draft.

Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 5-1-0-0 at home this season, having out-scored the opposition 28-11. The Rockets had a seven game home ice winning streak snapped Saturday night. Prior to the loss to Brandon the Rockets last setback at home was a 2-0 loss to the Tri City Americans March 8/08.

That’s a Fact Jack: The Rockets have scored the most power play goals in the WHL this season. The Rockets 27 goals with the extra man are one better than Calgary’s 26….Jamie Benn has 10 goals in his last 7 games. Benn has 10+6=16 over that period. Benn is riding a 7 game point streak over that period….Colin Long had a six game point streak snapped Saturday against Brandon. Long had 7 goals and 6 assists over that stretch.…Kyle St Denis has 5 goals in his last eight games and has 11 points in his last 6 contests, yet is out close to 6 weeks with a broken wrist suffered last Friday against Chilliwack…Colin Long enters tonight’s game with 154 career points and played in his 175th game Saturday vs. the Wheat Kings…The Rockets have scored a power play goal in 15 of the team’s 16 games this season. The only game where the Rockets were held off the score-sheet with the extra man was in a 4-1 loss in Medicine Hat…Kris Lazaruk has started 12 of the Rockets 16 games this season…Adam Brown has started in three of the last four. Brown is 4-0-0-0 as a starter….The Rockets have played in just four-one goal game this season. Those games were a 3-2 win against Seattle, a 2-1 loss in Portland in game #2, a 5-4 win in game #4 and a 3-2 loss to Brandon Saturday night…Tyson Barrie leads the WHL in scoring by defenseman. Barrie has 20 points. Fifteen of Barrie’s 20 points this season have been on the power play (5+10=15).

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Cody Almond has points in seven of his last ten games. Almond has 4+4=8 over that period. Almond is playing in his 175th career game tonight. Kyle St. Denis has 5+8=13 in his last eight games. Colin Long has been held off the scoreboard by Brandon, Lethbridge and Vancouver this season. Jamie Benn has 46 goals in just 64 career games. Tyson Barrie has points in eleven of his first sixteen games.

Dare to Compare: Last season the Rockets were 8-6-1-1 in their first sixteen games. The Rockets scored 51 goals in their first sixteen games last season. After sixteen games a year ago the Rockets had allowed 50 goals against. The Rockets are 4 and 6 on the road this season, having been out-scored 40-34. Last year after ten road games the Rockets were 6-3-0-1, and outscored the opposition 35-27.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Who Do We Blame For The Loss of Luke Schenn?


Before we start feeling sorry for ourselves over the loss of Luke Schenn to the Toronto Maple Leafs, let's not forget about what we had the priviledge of witnessing over the last three years.
We had a player who came to the Rockets as a wide eyed 15 year-old (he didn't turn 16 until early November), fresh off a midget season with the Saskatoon Contacts. This defensive defenseman that the Rockets selected in the 2004 WHL Bantam Draft was picked 20th overall that year, behind players like Colton Gilles (#2), Thomas Hickey (#3), Brandon Sutter (#6), Drayson Bowman (#8), Paul Postma (#12th) and Tysen Sexsmith (#14th). At #20, how good could this kid from Saskatoon be?
The answer - darn good!
In Kelowna we were able to witness Luke Schenn play 189 games over three seasons, a far cry in comparison to what other teams have had to indure over the years. How about the Prince Albert Raiders? Scott Hartnell was the Raiders first round bantam pick in 1997, and would eventually be selected in the first round of the NHL draft by Nashville in 2000. Hartnell played just 128 games in P-A before playing full time in the NHL. Scottie Upshall, a first round pick of the Predators in 2002 played 173 games with the Kamloops Blazers before being whisked away by the NHL. And most recently Peter Mueller, a first round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006, played just 103 games in Everett before playing full time as a 19 year-old at the NHL level. By comparison, we were spoiled to have Schenn around for 198 regular season games and an additional 19 in post season.
I can already hear Okanagan hockey fans blaming Leafs head coach Ron Wilson for making a poor decision in keeping Schenn rather than returning him back to major junior. But if we are taking that ridiculous mindset, why don't we make it even broader. We should blame Rockets director of player personnel Lorne Frey for making such an astute pick at the 20th spot back in 2004. What was he thinking? Why couldn't fate have seen the Rockets pick Randy Kerr instead? Let's blame Frey's hockey knowledge for selecting a player that would play just three short seasons in Kelowna. Ridiculous right?
Absolutely.
Let's go a step further towards bizarre. Let's blame the Rockets organization for giving Schenn the environment to succeed. He was treated like a pro the first time he wore a Rockets uniform on September 23/05 against the Vancouver Giants. Let's blame Jeff Truitt, who guided the Rockets in the fall of 2005, for inserting the 16 year-old in the lineup 60 times in his rookie season. Had he played less, maybe his development would have been stunted? Let's blame the fans for cheering him on during his time in a Rockets uniform. The cheer of 'L-U-K-E' every time he made a good hit or a nice play only gave him confidence to excel at his position. Fans what were you thinking? The Kelowna media - me included - should be blamed for interviewing him over the last three years and giving him some confidence in handling the hard nosed media he now faces in Toronto.
You get my point?
Fingers shouldn't be pointed, but our hands should come together in celebration as we see another Kelowna Rockets player move on to the NHL. Schenn may have accomplished his goal quicker than a Scott Hannan, Josh Gorges or Shea Weber, but we've celebrated the Rockets alumni that have earned full time employment at the National Hockey League level in the past, why would Luke Schenn be any different?
Now we can say with pride that Luke Schenn is apart of that Kelowna Rockets graduating class. Let's just hope now that the Leafs handle Schenn as well as the Kelowna Rockets organization did.

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • Look for a place to live kid! That's what I anticipate will come, or has come out of the mouth of Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher in speaking with defenseman Luke Schenn. Schenn plays his 9th NHL game Tuesday night where the Leafs will then decide if he should stay with the team or be sent back to junior. Schenn has done everything and more to prove that he is NHL ready. Will he have some stumbles along the way? Sure he will? But Schenn has demonstrated in the first 8 regular season games that he isn't intimidated playing against much older competition. (Update: Leafs announce Schenn will stay with Leafs)
  • While the Leafs will be questioned on their decision to keep or send Schenn back to junior, I can't see them making the mistake of not sending him to the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa. That may be the only junior hockey Schenn plays this season.
  • I plan on speaking with Luke this afternoon, and will post the interview if all the pieces fall into place.
  • Speaking of odd e-mails, I received one from a lady in Toronto inquiring about Luke Schenn. The question had nothing to do about Luke Schenn's on ice preformance, but more about his personal life. She wants to know if Luke has a girl friend. Let's just say Schenn appears to be popular with the ladies as the Leafs poster boy. Did I answer here e-mail with the information she requested? No! Furthermore, I'm the Rockets radio broadcaster, not a matchmaker on an on-line dating service.
  • Was it just the officiating Saturday night, or does the WHL have to look at the way it handles altercations following a clean hit? Rockets forward Evan Bloodoff engaged in two big hits against the Wheat Kings, only to get involved in a fight for his actions. My problem isn't with the Wheat Kings player who comes after Bloodoff for running over a teammate, but the fact that both Bloodoff and that player are penalized equally when it is all said and done. In my opinion, if that Wheat Kings player wants to go after Bloodoff he needs to be accessed the extra two minutes for instigating. Is this not the normal call? It wasn't Saturday night.
  • Torrie Jung had a successful weekend. Jung played in two games for the Edmonton Oil Kings on the weekend, allowed five goals while sporting a record of 1-0-0-1. Can you imagine if Jung gets the start when the Oil Kings are in Kelowna in early November? Do the Rockets start Kris Lazaruk in goal? It was Lazaruk who was acquired the night before the regular season started from the Kootenay Ice, essentially ended Jung's time in a Rockets uniform.
  • Speaking of the Oil Kings, what's up with Brett Breitkreuz? The former Rocket is on fire. His 21 points in 17 games is impressive. Five of his 9 goals this season are on the power play. Rockets director of player personnel Lorne Frey picked Breitkruez in the 2nd round of the 2004 WHL Bantam Draft behind some kid named Schenn?
  • An interesting conversation with Wheat Kings GM Kelly McCrimmon Saturday night led us to the issue of cell phone use. Unless you've had your head in the sand, every player now has a cell phone and text messaging to friends continuously can be a major problem. On game days these players should be busy preparing for the game, not texting back and forth to a buddy or girl friend who is miles away. Let's just say the distractions on the road are much different then they were 15 years ago.
  • Speaking of which, how much has the dynamics on the team bus changed over the years? Modern technology has us with our own i-pods, laptops and cell phones. If we are really bored we can watch a movie on the big screen on the team bus. Who needs to communicate with one another? In the good old days players passed the time by playing cards with one another or simply talking to each other. I'm not saying all communication has been lost, but does today's junior hockey player know as much about his teammates as he used too?

Benn - WHL Player of Week

The Kelowna Rockets couldn't lose when it came to picking up the WHL Player of the Week award.
Jamie Benn picked up the honour after picking up nine point (5+4=9) in three games last week. The WHL also nominated Rockets goaltender Adam Brown for the award. Brown posted a record of 2 and 0 last week with back-to-back shutouts.




Sunday, October 26, 2008

One On One with Kelly McCrimmon


Brandon Wheat Kings GM/Head Coach Kelly McCrimmon is one of the smartest minds in the game. So I thought I'd ask McCrimmon a series of questions, not dealing specifically with his team but the league as a whole.
What does McCrimmon think of NHL GM's discussing the possibility of issuing a minor penalty to a player who leaves both of his feet when blocking a shot? Would McCrimmon like to see more 20 year-olds in the WHL? Cell phone use is common place by WHL players these days, but can it be a problem on the road? Listen and find out.

Crowned By The Kings

  • The Brandon Wheat Kings had the Rockets back on their heels in the first period, yet it was the home team that had the visitors on the ropes as the Rockets rallied in an attempted to find the equalizing goal in a 3-2 home ice loss. The Wheat Kings scored just 21 seconds into the opening period, and were clearly the better team after twenty minutes. I thought the Rockets got better as the game went on, thanks to the power play and several big penalty kills including two 5 on 3's. Yet the game winner was scored when the Rockets were down two men late in the second period.
  • The Wheat Kings pressure was a far cry from the passive forecheck the Chilliwack Bruins attempted to throw towards the Rockets in the previous two games. The Rockets took a full 20 minutes to adjust to a pressure game that only an elite team can deliver. The Wheat Kings pressured the Rockets defensive core, resulting in several turnovers and quality chances on Kris Lazurak.
  • Evan Bloodoff wasn't given a star in the game but it was the speedy forwards work ethic and ability to make two solid hits that provided energy for his team. Bloodoff's first big hit resulted in the 18 year-old getting into a scrap with 6'3 211 pound Wheat Kings forward Jordon Hale.
  • Rockets veteran goaltender Kris Lazurak needed a strong game, and played well in his first start in four games. While he wasn't a difference maker, he didn't cost his team either. I was concerned about his outing after giving up a goal on the Wheat Kings first shot, but he settled down and played pretty well.
  • The Rockets learned before the game that forward Kyle St. Denis will miss no less than 4 weeks with a broken wrist. The broken scaphoid happened in Friday night's game against Chilliwack. Forward Dylan Hood was moved onto a line with Cody Almond and Brandon McMillan to fill the void left my St. Denis. Here is the audio of a conversation I had with St. Denis about the injury: www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0816.MP3&nid=815001
  • Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn took a late 5 minute major penalty for elbowing which almost let the Rockets back in the game. Schenn hammered Hood behind the net, sending the Rockets forward to the dressing room with under 5 minutes left in the 3rd period. The Rockets would score on a 5 on 3 to make it 3-2, but that's as close as they would come.
  • The Wheat Kings are a fun team to watch. Who was I most impressed by? Scott Glennie has great outside speed, and used it several times to break away from a Rockets defenseman. I would love to see a race between Glennie and Brandon McMillan. McMillan also has great speed to the outside, but unfortunately didn't use it against the Wheat Kings.
  • I spoke to Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn before last night's game. We discussed the future of his big brother Luke. We both agreed that he will likely stay in the NHL this season, and if that happens, Brayden deserves a big Christmas present as his older brother will be pulling in some hardcore cash.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bad News


Kelowna Rockets forward Kyle St. Denis is out 4 to 6 weeks with a broken wrist. The injury happened last night against the Chilliwack Bruins.
St. Denis was third in team scoring with 7 goals and 11 assists in 15 games this season. I will post an interview with St. Denis later on tonight, or join us for the pre-game show on AM-1150.

Game Notes vs. Wheat Kings

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets play game two of a five game home-stand tonight against the Brandon Wheat Kings. It’s the only meeting of the season between the two teams. These two teams met twice last season including December 12/2007 in Brandon with the Rockets earning a 5-4 win. Colin Long (2+3=5) and Jamie Benn (2+2=4) led the Rockets offensive attack. In Brandon’s last appearance at Prospera Place on February 14th, the Rockets earned a lopsided 8-2 victory. Colin Long (1+3=4) and Brady Leavold (2+3=5) led the attack. The last Wheat Kings win in Kelowna came October 28/06 in a 7-1 victory. Mark Derlago had two goals and two assists in the win while Luke Schenn scored the lone goal for the home team. The last time the Rockets shutout the Wheat Kings was October 30, 1999 in a 4-0 win. Kevin Swanson made 20 saves. Following tonight’s game the Rockets host Seattle Wednesday. The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 at home this season, and have won a season high three straight games overall.

Last Night’s Lime Light: Jamie Benn and Colin Long each scored twice and added an assist in a 6-0 win over Chilliwack. Cody Almond and Dylan Hood scored in the Rockets 9th win of the season. Adam Brown recorded the shutout making 14 saves. The Rockets were 3 for 6 on the power play and received a shorthanded goal from Benn in the third period. The Rockets out-shot the Bruins 36-14.

Brown Does It Again: For the second straight start, rookie goaltender Adam Brown earned a shutout. Brown becomes the first Rockets goaltender to record back-to-back shutouts since Derek Yeomans turned the trick with back-to-back goose eggs January 28/06 against Kootenay before another shutout against Everett February 1st. The last time the Rockets recorded back-to-back shutouts was February 3/2007 in a 2-0 win over Vancouver followed by a 4-0 victory over Portland February 7th. Oddly enough in the first shutout Kristofer Westblom and Torrie Jung shared the duties before Jung made 17 saves against the Winter Hawks. In case you are wondering, Kelly Guard had three consecutive shutouts in late October 2003 without allowing a goal against Prince Albert, Vancouver and Kamloops.

Cap’n Colin: The Rockets announced Thursday that 19 year-old Colin Long has been named the captain for 2008-2009. Long becomes the 17th captain in Rockets history. Long’s assistants are Jamie Benn, Cody Almond and Lucas Bloodoff. Long was the Rockets 11th round pick in the 2004 WHL draft.

Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 at home this season, having out-scored the opposition 26-8. The Rockets are riding a seven game home ice winning streak dating back to last season. The Rockets last home ice loss was a 2-0 setback to the Tri City Americans March 8/08.

That’s a Fact Jack: Jamie Benn has 9 goals in his last 6 games. Benn has 9+5=14 over that period. Benn is riding a 6 game point streak over that period….Colin Long is also riding a six game point streak (7+6=13)…Kyle St Denis has 5 goals in his last eight games and has 11 points in his last 6 contests…..Prior to Wednesday’s 5-0 shutout win in Chilliwack, when was the last time the Rockets recorded a shutout on the road? The Rockets shutout the Kootenay Ice 6-0 January 28/06 in Cranbrook….Long enters tonight’s game with 154 career points and is playing in his 175th game tonight…Long has points in eleven of his first thirteen games this season…The Rockets have scored a power play goal in 14 of the team’s 15 games this season. The only game where the Rockets were held off the score-sheet with the extra man was in a 4-1 loss in Medicine Hat…Kris Lazaruk has started 11 of the Rockets 15 games this season…Adam Brown has started in three straight. Brown is 4-0-0-0 as a starter….The Rockets have played in just three-one goal game this season. Those games were a 3-2 win Seattle Saturday, a 2-1 loss in Portland in game #2 and a 5-4 win in game #4…Tyson Barrie leads the WHL in scoring by defenseman. Barrie has 18 points. Thirteen of Barrie’s 18 points this season have been on the power play (4+9=13).

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Cody Almond has points in seven of his last nine games. Almond has 4+4=8 over that period. Almond is playing in his 174th career game tonight. Kyle St. Denis has 5+8=13 in his last eight games. Colin Long has been held off the scoreboard by Lethbridge and Vancouver this season. Jamie Benn has 45 goals in just 63 career games. Tyson Barrie has points in ten of his first fifteen games.

Dare to Compare: Last season the Rockets were 7-6-1-1 in their first fifteen games. The Rockets scored 47 goals in their first fifteen games last season. After fifteen games a year ago the Rockets had allowed 47 goals against. The Rockets are 4 and 6 on the road this season, having been out-scored 40-34. Last year after ten road games the Rockets were 6-3-0-1, and outscored the opposition 35-27.

Home Cook'n Tastes Good

  • For a second straight meeting against the Chilliwack Bruins, the Rockets cruised to victory. Friday's game - a 6-0 Rockets win - was as lopsided as Wednesday's 5-0 win in the 'Wack'. Jamie Benn and Colin Long each scored twice in the victory while rookie Adam Brown had an easy night making just 14 saves.
  • Brown has now recorded back-to-back shutouts. It's the first time a Rockets goaltender has accomplished the feat since Derek Yeomans had back-to-back shutouts in 2006.
  • Before you get too excited, the Rockets did record back-to-back shutouts in the 2006-2007 season when Kristofer Westblom and Torrie Jung shared the shutout in a 2-0 win over Vancouver before Torrie Jung made 17 saves a few nights later against Portland.
  • Kelly Guard holds the Rockets record for three consecutive shutouts in 2003-2004. Whats amazing is Guard not only played three straight games without allowing a goal, but he shut out the opposition in back-to-back starts twice that season.
  • While the Chilliwack Bruins are praying to the hockey gods for the return of Oscar Moller from the LA Kings, would Moller turn the teams offensive woes around? Sure he'd be a shot in the arm offensively, but I just don't see much of a supporting cast if the Swede returns to junior.
  • I will give props to Bruins goaltender Mark Friesen, who stood tall despite his teams inept offense. Friesen never got the yank despite giving up six goals. Only one I would consider being stoppable...that was the Dylan Hood goal to make it 4-0.
  • Kyle St. Denis took the rest of the night off after jamming his wrist in the second period.
  • The Rockets are unbeaten at home this season. The Rockets are 5-0-0-0. The only other teams not to lose in regulation time at home are Medicine Hat, Tri City, Vancouver and....ya Prince George.
  • The Rockets have now scored 60 goals this season, second best only to Vancouver's 66 in the Western Conference. Only three teams in the WHL have scored 60 or more goals this season. The Rockets (60), Calgary (61) and Vancouver (66).
  • The Rockets have now scored the most power play goals in the WHL (26). Calgary is a close second with 24.
  • Jamie Benn and Colin Long now lead the league in goals with 12.
  • The Rockets won't be able to surprise the Brandon Wheat Kings tonight. Head coach Kelly McCrimmon and his assistants took in the game.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Audio Blogging

Here is Colin Long on being the new captain of the Rockets:

www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0810.MP3&nid=813582

Here is a conversation I had with Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton on the teams new captain:

www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0811.MP3&nid=813583

Note: With both interviews, be patient and allow it to load.

Cap'n Colin

Colin Long has been officially named the new captain of the Kelowna Rockets.
Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton addresses the media conference as he introduces Colin Long as the teams 17th captain. Long's assistant captains from left to right are Jamie Benn, Lucas Bloodoff and Cody Almond.

video
Ryan Huska video at Thursday's press conference.



Jamie Benn gets some press thanks to the bright lights of Shaw Cable.

Brown Bags A Shutout

  • While illusionist David Copperfield was creating magic at Prospera Place in Kelowna Wednesday night, Rockets rookie goaltender Adam Brown was pulling a shutout out of his hat down the road at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack. Brown - making his second straight start - made 15 saves leading the Rockets to a 5-0 win over the Bruins, in the teams 8th win of the season.
  • Brown remains undefeated this season. Brown is now 3-0-0-0 after Wednesday’s win. Brown has victories over Chilliwack, Seattle and Everett. Over those three games Brown has allowed just 4 goals.
  • While Brown faced just 15 shots, he was still required to make three terrific saves including a beauty off of Randy McNaught late in the first period when the Rockets were up 3-0.
  • How can you not start Brown at home Friday against the Bruins? The 17 year-old is looking more and more comfortable every time he plays, and staying with the goaltender with the hot hand only makes sense.
  • When was the last time the Rockets shutout a team on the road? It was January 28, 2006 in a 6-0 win in Kootenay.
  • It was a sign of a long night for the Bruins when Rockets forward Cody Almond ringed one off the cross bar less than 3 minutes into the first period. The Rockets clearly dominated the opening period before the Bruins found their game for a brief 5 minutes span early in the second. Overall though, the Rockets dominated the game for 55 minutes.
  • How can you have a quiet night and still pick up 4 points? Jamie Benn was named the games first star with two goals and two assists, and was the most dangerous player on the ice with the puck. Yet in a game that was one sided, Benn only needed limited opportunities to flex his offensive muscles.
  • Unlike what happened Saturday when Benn wasn’t credited with a goal on a sharp angle shot against Seattle, he got some revenge when he took a similar shot Wednesday night from a sharp angle that hit the inside of the net before quickly bouncing out. For the second straight time the goal judge didn’t turn the red light on, yet this time referee Matt Kirk was in a great position and didn’t hesitate in calling it a goal – which it indeed was.
  • Speaking of Kirk, he called a great game. He was never overly involved in the game, and let things go – both ways. I still love the one referee system, and Kirk showed Wednesday that it really does work well.
  • The Rockets have won 5 of their last 7 games overall.
  • The Rockets won back-to-back road games for the first time this season.
  • Brandon McMillan scored once in the win. It was the 18 year-old forwards first goal in 11 games.
  • Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton took in Wednesday’s game. It was the first time this season that Hamilton has traveled with the team after conducted both league and CHL business in the first few weeks of the season.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Game Notes vs. Bruins

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets make their first of the season to Chilliwack. It’s the first of 8 meetings between these two teams this season. Following tonight’s game the two teams hook up again Friday in Kelowna. Last season these two teams met 10 times, with the Rockets going 7-3-0-0. The Rockets were 4-1-0-0 at home and 3-2-0-0 in Chilliwack. The Rockets out-scored the Bruins 15-13 at Prospera Place while the two teams each scored 16 goals in the seasonal series at Prospera Centre. The Rockets are concluding a three game road trip tonight. The Rockets are coming off a 3-2 win in Seattle Saturday night. Colin Long, Lucas Bloodoff and Stepan Novotny scored goals for the visitors, while rookie Adam Brown earned his second career win in as many starts. The win came on the heels of a 8-6 loss Friday in Everett. The Tips had a 3-1 lead after twenty minutes and a 4-3 lead after forty minutes. The Rockets had a 6-4 lead with under ten minutes left in the third period before the Tips would score four unanswered goals to win the game. The Rockets were led by two goals from Jamie Benn and Tyson Barrie. Kyle St. Denis – on a penalty shot – and Cody Almond also score for the Rockets, who were 3 for 8 on the power play.

Seasonal Series vs. Bruins:
HOME AWAY
Oct 24: Tonight:
Nov 29: Jan 23:
Dec 6: Feb 22:
Feb 18: March 6:

Road Rash: The Rockets have allowed 7 or more goals in three of their last five road games. The Rockets have played 9 road games this season, tied with Seattle for the league lead. The Rockets are 3 and 6 on opposition ice. The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals on the road three times this season.

Trade Winds Blow: The Rockets traded 19 year-old goaltender Torrie Jung to the Lethbridge Hurricanes Thursday for a 6th round bantam pick. That pick will be upgraded to a 5th round selection if Jung plays with the Hurricanes as a 20 year-old next season. Jung failed to play a game with the Rockets this season after Kris Lazaruk was acquired from the Kootenay Ice just prior to the start of the regular season.

Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 4-0-0-0 at home this season, having out-scored the opposition 20-8. The Rockets are riding a six game home ice winning streak dating back to last season. The Rockets last home ice loss was a 2-0 setback to the Tri City Americans March 8/08.

That’s a Fact Jack: The Rockets have the second most power play chances in the WHL (86). Only Kootenay has had more (87)…The Rockets have allowed 48 goals against. Only Edmonton (63) and Kamloops (53) have allowed more goals than the Rockets this season. The Rockets have opened the scoring in four of the last seven games…After going the first two regular season games without a goal, Jamie Benn has now scored goals in six of his last eight games….Colin Long has 4+3=7 in his last four games. Long enters tonight’s game with 148 career points and is playing in his 173rd game tonight…Long has points in nine of his first eleven games this season…The Rockets have scored a power play goal in 12 of the team’s 13 games this season. The only game where the Rockets were held off the score-sheet with the extra man was in a 4-1 loss in Medicine Hat…Kris Lazaruk has started 11 of the Rockets 13 games this season…The Rockets have played in just three-one goal game this season. Those games were a 3-2 win Seattle Saturday, a 2-1 loss in Portland in game #2 and a 5-4 win in game #4…Tyson Barrie leads the WHL in scoring by defenseman. Barrie has 14 points. Ten of Barrie’s 14 points this season have been on the power play (4+6=10).

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Cody Almond has points in six of his last seven games. Almond has 3+4=7 over that period. Almond is playing in his 172nd career game tonight. Kyle St. Denis has 4+5=9 in his last six games. Colin Long has been held off the scoreboard by Lethbridge and Vancouver this season. Jamie Benn has 41 goals in just 61 career games. Benn has goals in six of his last eight games. Benn has 8 goals over that stretch. Tyson Barrie has points in eight of his first thirteen games. Brandon McMillan has gone 10 games without a goal. McMillan’s last goal came Oct 26/08 against Kamloops.

Jung Traded

Torrie Jung is an Edmonton Oil King. The Lethbridge Hurricanes traded Jung to the Oil Kings Tuesday. Jung was sent to the Oil Kings for a 6th rounder. Jung and the Oil Kings are in Kelowna November 2nd.
The trade doesn't surprise me considering Jung was not in the Hurricanes lineup last night. In fact I e-mailed him last night asking him why he was watching from the stands. His reply? I've been traded.
Now Jung gets what he wants...the number one goaltending duties with a WHL team. One problem though. He will be playing with a team that has allowed the most goals in the WHL.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Paraphrasing My Convo With Bruce Hamilton

    Here is a conversation I had with Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton. The audio version of this interview can be heard prior to Wednesday night's game in Chilliwack:
  • Hamilton says it hasn't been the teams defense that has struggled as much as the goaltending so far this season. Hamilton doesn't think his team needs to score 5 or 6 goals to win, yet that's been the case this season.

  • Hamilton calls the goaltending a "concern". He says too many pucks are going through Lazaruk, and that needs to change in a hurry.
  • The Rockets are looking into the status of overage defenseman Tysen Dowzak. Dowzak has played in just one American Hockey League game this season. Newport Sports Management wrote up the contract and one of the clauses is an option to go back to junior if he was sent down to the East Coast Hockey League. Is Dowzak injured or has he been a healthy scratch? Hamilton is looking into the situation.
  • Hamilton isn't holding his breath on Luke Schenn returning to the Rockets this season. Hamilton says veteran (Leafs) players are sitting out so Schenn can play. Hamilton says he would be "shocked" if he came back.
  • Overage forward Scott Doucet was released by the Regina Pats Monday. Hamilton told me he is not interested in acquiring him despite having two overage spots available.

  • Hamilton is looking at finding a veteran defenseman to help eleviate the minutes played by Tyson Barrie, Collin Bowman and Tyler Myers. Hamilton says Myers is his greatest concern because he is playing huge minutes. Hamilton says playing him too much puts him at a risk of injury.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm....

  • If Kyle Beach plays the way he did Friday against the Kelowna Rockets he will do one of two things. He will: a) Force the Chicago Black Hawks to make him a regular with their team next season: b) Other WHL team's will show interested in acquired him near or at the trade deadline for a long run through the playoffs.
  • Beach has proven he's tough enough, but his sudden show of 'turning the cheek' for the betterment of the team is impressive. I am not saying he won't snap at some point this season when the opposition gets under his skin, but teams reluctant on acquiring him because of his lack of discipline on the ice may now be thinking twice. Was it just a rare night against the Rockets that Beach stayed out of trouble, or is it the new and improved Kyle Beach? Only time will tell.
  • I haven't given up on Kris Lazaruk. I believe he can rebound from a rough start in a Rockets uniform, but his next start is a big one. I am not sure if he is doubting his own game right now, but he needs to prove to his teammates that he delivers on what management believed was a top end goaltender when they acquired him from Kootenay. I am not suggesting that his teammates aren't confident with his play, but giving up soft goals is like a dagger in the heart of a team that is still trying to find their stride in the early stages of the season.
  • I wouldn't have envisioned the Rockets being 7-6-0-0 after the first 13 games this season, but lets remember this team has played a truck load of road games. When 9 of the first 13 are played away from Prospera Place your record is bound to take a beating.
  • Let me throw this at ya. Let's says the schedule was reversed where the Rockets played 9 of their first 13 at home. Would the Rockets then be 9-4-0-0 considering they are undefeated on home ice this season?
  • The Rockets have scored the 3rd most goals in the WHL this season. Only Vancouver (54) and Calgary (52) have scored more than the Rockets 49.
  • The bad news is the Rockets have allowed 48 goals against this season. Only Edmonton(63) and Kamloops (53) have allowed more.
  • The Rockets have had the second most power play chances in the WHL this season. Only Kootenay (87) has more power play chances than the Rockets 86.
  • I want to publicly thank Colin Long's dad for a book he gave me when I ran into him last weekend in Everett. Steve Long presented me with a book entitled "How to make a million dollars with your voice (or lose your tonsils trying)." When my wife saw the book she urged me to read it immediately saying "you are a long way away from making a million dollars with that voice."
  • Who has the ugly distinction of losing to the Portland Winter Hawks this season? The Hawks are 1 and 9 this year, with their one win coming against the Kelowna Rockets in a 2-1 victory in the second game of the season.
  • How long is it before Hawks veteran goaltender Kurtis Mucha asks for a trade? Even the Phoenix Coyotes - the team that gave him a free agent tryout - wouldn't like the situation the veteran is in. Facing quality shots is one thing...losing continuously is another.

Photos From A Final Visit To Key Arena

A fresh sheet of ice at the KeyArena. Don't let appearances fool you though. Any player will tell you it was one of the worst ice surfaces in the WHL.
This is a picture high above the net at the end of the ice that the T-Birds defend in the 1st and 3rd periods. For T-Bird games the seats are pulled back to accommodate this end of the ice. While seats are situated from this vantage point where the picture was taken, they are not available for public use during T-Birds games. Sitting here would be hockey suicide, as their is no netting to save your head or face from being hit by a stray puck.

This is outside the T-Birds dressing room at the KeyArena. I've been inside the dressing room before and it is nothing to write home about. I am sure the T-Birds will have a much better set-up in their new digs in Kent.

This is a picture underneath the grandstands at the Key. This is where all of the court side chairs and hoops were stashed when the Sonics weren't playing and the T-Birds were the focal point..

This is just one of the dressing rooms at the Key. This one was used primarily for basketball, but the visitors dressing room wasn't much different.

I had to take a picture of the shower stall because of the height of the shower head. The picture doesn't do justice to it's height, but at 5'9 the water nob is at my throat. I would have to leap into the air to even move the shower head. These showers were designed specifically for NBA players obviously, but I am sure 6'7 Tyler Myers is in heaven every time he used the shower at the Key.

Over my 14 seasons in the WHL, this sign tells you where to enter the KeyArena. The majority of the signs at the 'Key' were in green and yellow, the team colours of the NBA's Seattle Sonics. The Sonics no longer play in the building either after moving to Oklahoma City.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Handing In The Key to the Key Arena

  • The Rockets played their final game ever in Seattle's Key Arena Saturday night, earning a 3-2 win. The next time the Rockets visit the T-Birds in late January, the game will be played at the teams new arena in nearby Kent Washington.
  • For just the third time this season the Rockets managed to win on opposition ice. Colin Long, Stepan Novotny and Lucas Bloodoff scored in the Rockets 7th win of the season. Bloodoff's goal was the best of the bunch when he drove hard to the net and tipped home a tremendous saucier pass from linemate Dylan Hood.
  • Hood was injected back into the Rockets lineup Saturday night despite a broken nose. Hood wore a cage to protect his peak. Hood only missed two games with the injury suffered a week ago against Prince George.
  • Jamie Benn is all for video replay in the WHL. Benn scored what appeared to be a goal in the second period that went high over the shoulder of T-Birds goaltender Calvin Pichard. The puck went into the goal with great force, that it appeared to hit the middle post and quickly came out. Benn raised his hands in celebration only to see referee Nathan Wieler wave it off. The play was eventually stopped where Wieler spoke to the goal judge on a headset. While the video screen at the Key Arena replays big hits and goals during the game, some how they were unable to show that replay on the big screen. Hmm!
  • The Rockets elected to start rookie Adam Brown in goal Saturday night. I thought it was Brown's best outing of the season. Brown was not spectacular, but steady, and made the saves when he need too. Brown is now 2 and 0 as a starter. Do you play him Wednesday against Chilliwack? Why not?
  • I won't name names of players who play timid, but Rockets rookie Michell Callahan isn't one of them. Callahan makes a huge hit in the first period on a T-Bird player in the neutral zone and veteran Devon LeBlanc takes exception by fighting Callahan. So here we have Callahan - who just turned 17 this month - fighting a 20 year-old (LeBlanc). What does that say about the courage of Callahan? Whether he won the fight is irrelevant. He makes a big hit, dances with an overage player, and doesn't play with his tail between his legs on the road. No wonder the coaching staff are high on this kid.
  • Rockets forward Cody Almond had his 6 game point streak snapped against the T-Birds.
  • Thomas Hickey is a joy to watch. What a player! He is so good defensively, and does a great job of anticipating the play. Hickey logged a ton of ice time, primarily when the line of Benn-Long and Lucas Bloodoff were on the ice. Hickey's work ethic is infectious, and it's no wonder he wears the captains 'C'.
  • While the T-Birds have one of the worst records in the WHL, you can't tell me this teams not talented. With so many returning forwards, it's only a matter of time before they come together and 'click' offensively. Right now they appear to be playing like individuals, which is odd for a group that is familiar with one another.
  • LA Kings scout Brent McEwan watched both Rockets games this weekend.
  • At the Rockets pre-game meal they broke bread with the Kamloops Blazers - sort of. The Blazers and Rockets were staying at the same hotel in Everett. While the Rockets were using one portion of the restaurant, the Blazers were just a few tables down getting nourishment before their game Saturday night against the Tips.
  • I managed to take some pictures of my final visit to the Key. I'll post them either Sunday or Monday morning.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Kyle Beach About to Sign?


Here is the interview I had with Everett Silvertips forward Kyle Beach.

www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_0777.MP3&nid=810335

Defensive Deficiencies

  • The Kelowna Rockets scored an impressive 6 goals last night on the road. The only problem was they gave up 8. The Rockets are now 2 and 6 on the road this season, but the real concern is the number of goals they are allowing so far this season.
  • The Rockets have given up 46 goals so far this season. Only Kamloops (48) have given up more in the Western Conference.
  • The Rockets had the game within their grasp after scoring the first - three goals of the third period and building up a 6-4 lead with just under 10 minutes left in regulation. But the Tips would battle back with three straight goals, and an empty netter to win their 5th game of the season.
  • Veteran goaltender Kris Lazaruk allowed 7 goals on 31 shots. Credit the Tips for the goals they scored, but Lazaruk needs to be a difference maker as a 20 year-old goaltender. He was as a good as his counterpart at the other end, Tips netminder Shayne Brown. The only problem is Lazaruk is two years older and has 89 more games under his belt.
  • For the third time in the last four road games the Rockets were guilty of giving up 7 or more goals. The Rockets have given up 7 goals against Vancouver and Lethbridge and a season high 8 against the Tips in last night's loss.
  • Kyle Beach again had the Rockets number. Beach had 4 assists, was a +4 and didn't take a penalty. Is this the same Kyle Beach from last season? He's a year smarter, and showed he'll take an assist as quick as a goal by passing the puck (rather than shooting) to teammate Matthew Ius for an easy empty netter. I'll post the interview I had with Beach by 1 pm Saturday afternoon.
  • While Beach was a +4, Rockets forward Colin Long was a -5. Long still managed 2 assists.
  • Jamie Benn again had a solid game, scoring twice. Benn already has 8 goals, one off the league lead.
  • When was the last time the Rockets gave up 8 goals on the road? October 5, 2002 the Rockets were a 8-6 loser in Medicine Hat.
  • Colin Long's parents were in attendance at last night's game.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Game Notes vs. Tips

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets make their first visit of the season to the Comcast Arena in Everett. The Rockets were 1-0-1-0 in Everett last season, winning 6-4 and suffering a 3-2 loss in overtime. In the last three appearances in Everett the Rockets have managed to earn at least a point (1-0-1-1). The last setback in Everett came September 29/06 in a 4-1 loss. The Rockets enter tonight’s game having won back-to-back games and have won 3 of their last 4. The only blemish was a 7-1 loss in Vancouver last Friday. The Rockets are coming off a 3-1 win over Prince Albert Wednesday night. Colin Long, Jamie Benn and Kyle St. Denis scored for the Rockets, who remain undefeated on home ice this season at 4-0-0-0. The Rockets out-shot the Raiders 34-15. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Seattle tomorrow night before facing the Chilliwack Bruins on Wednesday. The Rockets next home game is Friday October 24th vs. the Bruins. The Rockets are playing their 8th road game of the season tonight. The team has lost three of its last four games on opposition ice. The two wins this season on the road have been in Kamloops and Kootenay.

Seasonal Series vs. Tips:

Oct 1/08: Kelowna 4 Everett 2 (home) Feb 6/09: (home)
Oct 17/08: Tonight (away) Feb 21/09: (away)

Trade Winds Blow: The Rockets traded 19 year-old goaltender Torrie Jung to the Lethbridge Hurricanes Thursday for a 6th round bantam pick. That pick will be upgraded to a 5th round selection if Jung plays with the Hurricanes as a 20 year-old next season. Jung failed to play a game with the Rockets this season after Kris Lazaruk was acquired from the Kootenay Ice just prior to the start of the regular season.

Home Cook’n: The Rockets are 4-0-0-0 at home this season, having out-scored the opposition 20-8. The Rockets are riding a six game home ice winning streak dating back to last season. The Rockets last home ice loss was a 2-0 setback to the Tri City Americans March 8/08.

That’s a Fact Jack: The Rockets have opened the scoring in three of the last five games…After going the first two regular season games without a goal, Jamie Benn has now scored goals in five of his last six games….Colin Long has 3+1=4 in his last two games. Long enters tonight’s game with 145 career points and is playing in his 171st game tonight…Long has points in seven of his first nine games this season…The Rockets have scored a power play goal in 10 of the team’s 11 games this season. The only game where the Rockets were held off the score-sheet with the extra man was in a 4-1 loss in Medicine Hat…Kris Lazaruk has started 10 of the Rockets 11 games this season…Tyson Barrie leads the WHL in points by defenseman with 11…The Rockets have allowed just 27 shots on goal in their last two games…The Rockets have one of the youngest defensive cores in the WHL. Only Moose Jaw has a younger group that Kelowna. The Rockets do not have a 19 or 20 year-old d-man on their roster…The Rockets have played in just one-one goal game this season. That game was a 2-1 loss in Portland in game #2…Riley McIntosh earned his first point of the season - an assist – in Wednesday’s win. Only two players have yet to register a point this season. Those two are Lukas Matejka and Spencer Main.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Cody Almond has a five game point streak (2+4=6). Almond is playing in his 170th career game tonight. Kyle St. Denis has 3+3=6 in his last four games. Colin Long has been held off the scoreboard by Lethbridge and Vancouver this season. Jamie Benn has 39 goals in just 59 career games. Benn has goals in five of his last six games. Benn has 6 goals over that stretch. Tyson Barrie has points in seven of his first eleven games. Brandon McMillan has gone 8 games without a goal. McMillan’s last goal came Oct 26/08 against Kamloops.

Dare to Compare: Last season the Rockets were 5-5-1-0 in their first eleven games. The Rockets scored 33 goals in their first eleven games last season. After eleven games a year ago the Rockets had allowed 36 goals against. The Rockets are 2 and 5 on the road this season, having been out-scored 30-20. Last year after seven road games the Rockets were 4 and 3, yet were outscored 24-22.

Rockets Schedule - Next 5 Games: Rockets Results - Last 5 Games:

Oct 18 @ Seattle Rockets 3 Hurricanes 7 L
Oct 22 @ Chilliwack Rockets 6 Kootenay 3 W
Oct 24 vs. Chilliwack Rockets 1 Giants 7 L
Oct 25 vs. Brandon Rockets 8 Cougars 1 W
Oct 29 vs. Seattle Rockets 3 Raiders 1 W

Rockets Players by Province: BC=9 US=5 ALB=5 SASK=1 MAN=1 EURO=2 Total=23

Rockets Season Highs and Lows:

Most Goals Scored: 8 vs. Prince George Oct 11/08 (8-1 W)
Most Goals Allowed: 7 @ Vancouver Oct 10/08 (7-1 L), @ Hurricanes Oct 4/08 (7-3L)
Most Power Play Chances: 11 @ Kamloops Sept 26/08 – Rockets were 4 for 11
Most Power Play Goals Scored: 4 @ Kamloops Sept 26/08 (6-2 W)
Most Power Play Goals Allowed: 4 @ Vancouver Oct 10/08 (7-1L)
Most Shots Taken: 45 vs. Cougars Oct 11/08 (8-1W)
Fewest Shots Taken: 27 vs. Everett Oct 1/08 @ Tri Sept 21/08
Most Shot Allowed: 33 @ Tri Sept 21
Fewest Shots Allowed: 12 vs. Cougars Oct 11/08 (8-1W)
Last Shutout: NA
Last Time Shutout: NA
Penalty Shots: NA
Shootout Game Winning Goals: NA

vs. BC: 2-1-0-0 vs. US: 1-2-0-0
vs. Central: 1-2-0-0 vs. East: 0-0-0-0

Roster Stats:
Player total: 23
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 1 Lazaruk
19’s – 6 Long, Benn, Almond, L. Bloodoff, Schenn
18’s – 7 E. Bloodoff, McMillan, McIntosh, Myers, Novotny, St. Denis, Hood
17’s – 9 Barrie, Brown, Verdino, Gogol, Borejko, Bowman, Callahan, Matejka, Paradis
16’s – 1 Main
Average Age: 17.7
Rookies – 7

Record by Month:
Month Games Record Home Road
September: 4 1-2-0-0 0-0-0-0 1-2-0-0
October: 13 4-3-0-0 3-0-0-0 1-3-0-0
November: 10 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0
December: 10 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0
January: 14 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0
February: 14 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0
March: 7 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0

NHL Draft Picks-Training Camp Attendees: Luke Schenn (Leafs 08), Tyler Myers (Sabres 08), Colin Long (Coyotes 08), Brandon McMillan (Ducks 08), Jamie Benn (Dallas 07), Cody Almond (Minnesota 07), Lucas Bloodoff (Tryout Lightning 08).

Game Notes Compiled byAM-1150’s Regan Bartel