Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Hawks are meeting for the third of four times this season. The Rockets are 1-1-0-0, having lost 2-1 in Portland September 21st before beating the Hawks 5-4 in a shootout January 9th. The two teams conclude the seasonal series March 11th in Kelowna. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a season high 6 game winning streak after a 5-1 win over Prince George Saturday night. The Rockets have out-scored the opponent 23-7 over that period. In the big picture the Rockets have points in eleven straight (9-0-1-1). The last regulation loss was a 6-4 setback to Vancouver January 21st. Tonight’s game is the third of 7 games in 10 nights. The Rockets host Chilliwack Wednesday before opening a six game road trip Friday night with a stop in Vancouver before games against Everett, Chilliwack, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Calgary.
Last Game: Mikael Backlund scored twice and added an assist leading the Kelowna Rockets to a 5-1 win over the Prince George Cougars Saturday night. Ian Duval (1+1=2), Cody Almond (0+2=2), Lucas Bloodoff (1+1=2), Tysen Dowzak (0+2=2) and Stepan Novotny (0=2=2) all had multiple point games. The Rockets out-shot the Cougars 35-26 and were 0/4 on the power play. The Cougars were silenced on 5 chances
Hawk Connection: Mark Guggenberger returns to the place where his Western Hockey League career began. Guggenberger played three games with the Hawks last season, posting a record of 1-2-0-0. Guggenberger’s lone win came against the Saskatoon Blades October 23rd. Guggenberger would eventually be traded to the Swift Current Broncos, where he would earn his first win with his new team, oddly enough, against the Kelowna Rockets January 25/08. Rockets assistant coach Jeff Finley played his junior hockey with the Hawks from 1983 until 1987. Finley played a total of 216 games with the Hawks, racking up 66 points in his final season in 86-87.
Best of the West Poll Announced: The Tri City Herald’s Best of the West Poll was released this weekend and three Rockets were recognized. Jamie Benn was rated as having the best shot, and the most accurate. Riley Grantham was rated as the toughest player in the conference. Tyler Myers was rated as the best stay-at-home defenseman.
Very Interesting! Mark Guggenberger has won four straight, and has earned points in 9 straight appearances. The Rockets are 20-2-0-0 when Colin Long scores…The Rockets 24 home ice wins this season is three better than the teams 21 home ice victories one season ago…Goaltender Mark Guggenberger has started 9 of the last 12 games.…Tyson Barrie has set a new career high in point with 48, bettering his 43 point effort in his rookie season…The Rockets won their 30th game of the season February 3rd in Kamloops. It marked the 14th time in franchise history that the Rockets have enjoyed a 30+ win season. The Rockets last failed to win 30 games during the 2006-2007 campaign, when the team won just 22 times…The Rockets have just 15 games left in the regular season. Ten of those 15 are on the road. The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in 13 of the 15 games since the trade deadline. Only Tri City and Vancouver (twice) have out-shot the Rockets since the trade deadline…The Rockets power play is 16 for 54 in their last nine games (29.6%). The Rockets have scored two or more power play goals in six of their last eleven games. The Rockets are 9-3-1-2 in fifteen games since the trade deadline…Mitchell Callahan has 12 fighting majors this season as 17 year-old. Teammate Curt Gogol – also 17 – has 8.
New Faces Contribute: Mikael Backlund has 7+9=16 in his first fifteen games. Ian Duval has 6+8=14 in his first elven games with the Rockets. Riley Grantham has 1+4=5 in his first 14 games, including two fighting majors. Goaltender Mark Guggenberger is 8-2-1-1 with the Rockets, with wins over Kamloops (twice), Vancouver, Everett, Spokane, Medicine Hat, Prince George and Tri City.
Bennie And The Jets: Jamie Benn has eleven goals in his last eleven games, and has goals in six of his last nine. 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 fourteen points in his last nine games (9+5=14), and points in eight of his last twelve games. Benn has 129 career points in just 94 games (1.37 points per game).