Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Blazers are meeting for the 6th of 9 times this season. The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 in the seasonal series, including 2-0-0-0 at home and 3-0-0-0 at the Interior Savings Centre. The Rockets have out-scored the Blazers 25-11, including 16-4 on opposition ice. The Rockets have scored 5 or more goals in four of the five meetings. Following tonight’s tilt, the two teams collide Saturday in Kelowna before meeting March 13th and 14th to wrap up the seasonal series. If the playoffs were to begin tonight, the Rockets and Blazers would meet in round one. These two teams last met in the 2002 playoffs with the Rockets winning in 4 straight. These two teams also met in the first round in 1999, with the Blazers winning in 6 games. The Blazers also beat the Tacoma Rockets in an opening round playoff series in 1992 in four straight. The Rockets open the month of February playing 14 games in 25 days. Nine of those 14 games will be played on the road. Home dates include games against Everett, Kamloops, Vancouver, Prince George and Chilliwack.
Seasonal Series Breakdown: The Rockets have out-shot the Blazers in four of the five games in the seasonal series. The exception was September 27th in a Rockets 5-4 win at Prospera Place. The Blazers out-shot the Rockets 28-25. The Rockets have scored a power play goal in all five games this season. The Rockets are 13 for 34 (38.2%) with the power play in the five games while the Blazers are 3 for 26 (11.5%) with the extra man in the five games.
Period Scoring Breakdown:
Period: 1 2 3 OT SO Total
Rockets 6 10 8 0 1 25
Blazers 6 2 3 0 0 11
Last Game: Jim O’Brien had the puck deflect off of him into the net leading the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 2-1 overtime win over the Rockets Saturday night in Kent. The Rockets lone goal came off of the stick of Jamie Benn. The Rockets out-shot the T-Birds 36-18, yet were 0 for 2 on the power play. Mark Guggenberger earned the single point in goal. Since being acquired at the trade deadline, Guggenberger has earned points in five of seven starts.
Very Interesting! In the three games played in Kamloops, the two teams have combined for 8 fighting majors…The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in 8 of the 9 games since the trade deadline. The Rockets are averaging 35 shots per game over that period while giving up 10 fewer shots a game, or 25.1 per game. Only Tri City and Vancouver have out-shot the Rockets since the trade deadline. In 4 of those 9 games the Rockets have registered 40+ shots…Mitchell Callahan has 9 fighting majors this season. That includes three in his last seven games. By comparison, Ryan Cuthbert (a tough middle weight in his day) had 7 fighting majors in his rookie season in 1998-99. Rookie Curt Gogol has 7 fighting majors this season…The Rockets power play is 9 for 19 in their last five games (47.4%). The Rockets have scored two or more power play goals in four of their last five games. The Rockets are 3-3-1-2 in nine games since trade deadline…The Rockets had the 5th worst penalty killing unit last season. This season it’s the 5th best.
Almond Goes Nuts in January: Cody Almond had 12 goals and 8 assists for 20 points in 14 games in the month of January. That included three multiple goal games and points in 11 of those 14 games. Those 12 goals came off a December where the 19 year-old scored just once in ten games.
New Faces Contribute: Mikael Backlund has 3+7=10 in his first nine games. Ian Duval has 5+6=11 in his first eight games with the Rockets. Riley Grantham has 0+2=2 in his first 8 games, including two fighting majors. Goaltender Mark Guggenberger is 4-2-1-1 with the Rockets, with wins over Medicine Hat, Prince George, Tri City and Kamloops.
Jamie Gives Goalies Jitters: Jamie Benn has six goals in his last five games, and has goals in three straight. Benn is the first Rockets player to register back-to-back 30 goal seasons since Justin Keller had 31 goals in 2004-2005 and scored 51 times in 2005-2006. Benn has six points in his last three games (4+2=6), and points in five of his last six games. Benn has played in only three games against the Blazers this season. Benn has 1+3=4 with a fight in those three games. Benn has 121 career points in just 88 games. Benn is averaging 1.38 points per game over his career.
Who’s Hot: Colin Long has three goals in his last five games. Long has points in 4 of his last 5 games with 3+5=8 over that period. Stepan Novotny has 2+2=4 in his last three games. Ian Duval has goals in eight of his last eleven games. Brandon McMillan has 5+8=13 in his last 15 games. Tyson Barrie had 10 points (2+8=10) in 14 games in January. Tyler Myers has points in four of his last five games (1+5=6). Lucas Bloodoff has not scored in 11 games. Prior to the drought the 19 year-old had six goals in four games.
By The Numbers: Since re-locating to Kelowna from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have played 987 regular season games. The Rockets have won 499 times while based in Kelowna.
St. Denis Still Sidelined: Rockets forward Kyle St. Denis is missing his 37th straight game tonight with a broken wrist. The wrist was broken October 24th against the Chilliwack Bruins. The Rockets are 20-13-1-2 with St. Denis out of the lineup. St. Denis should return to the lineup Friday against Everett.
Broadcaster Tidbits: The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals – nine times this season. The Rockets have managed to score 6 or more goals three times against the Cougars, with single game outbursts against Medicine Hat, Kamloops, Kootenay, Everett, Chilliwack and Seattle. Last season the Rockets scored 6 or more goals 12 times… The Rockets are 27-6-0-1 when they score 3 or more goals. The Rockets are 10-10-0-2 in games where they’ve allowed 3 or more goals.