Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Tips are meeting for the 3rd of four times this season. The Rockets are 1-1-0-0 against Everett this season. The Rockets were a 4-2 winner in the opening game between the two teams on October 1st before falling 8-6 in Everett October 17th. Following tonight’s game the two teams conclude the four game set February 21st in Everett. The Rockets enter tonight’s game having registered a point in six straight games (4-0-1-1), with their last loss coming January 21st in a 6-4 setback to Vancouver. The Rockets are playing the second game of 14 in the month of February. The Rockets are playing those 14 games in just 25 days. Nine of those 14 games are being played on the road. Home dates include games against Everett tonight, Kamloops tomorrow and single games against visiting Vancouver, Prince George and Chilliwack. Kyle St. Denis returns to the lineup tonight after missing 37 games with a broken wrist. The Rockets were 21-13-1-2 with St. Denis out of the lineup.
Last Game: Jamie Benn scored three times leading the Rockets to a 6-1 win in Kamloops Tuesday night. Mikael Backlund, Cody Almond and Curt Gogol also scored for the Rockets, in their 30th win of the season. The Rockets were 2 for 4 on the power play while failing to give up a goal in 6 Blazer chances. Mark Guggenberger made 15 saves in the win. The victory was the franchises 500th since arriving in Kelowna for the start of the 1995-1996 season.
Hat-trick Heaven: Benn’s three goal effort Tuesday was his second-three goal game of the season. Cody Almond also has two-three goal games this season. Who was the last Rockets player to register three-three goal games in one season? Justin Keller had three hattricks during the 2005-2006 season. Chuck Kobasew also had three-three goal games during the 2001-2002 campaign. Jason Deleurme had three-three goal games in 197-98. Surprisingly Jesse Schultz had just one-three goal game despite scoring 53 times in 2002-2003.
Very Interesting! When the Rockets and Tips met in the Western Conference final in 2004, how many players on the Rockets roster that season have since spent time in the NHL? The answer is 8. Shea Weber, Mike Card, Josh Gorges, D.J King, Blake Comeau, Cam Paddock, Kyle Cumiskey and Troy Bodie have all played at least one game in the NHL...The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in 9 of the 10 games since the trade deadline. The Rockets are averaging 34.5 shots per game over that period while giving up 14 fewer shots a game, or 20.6 per game. Only Tri City and Vancouver have out-shot the Rockets since the trade deadline…Mitchell Callahan has 9 fighting majors this season. 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 11 for 23 in their last six games (47.8%). The Rockets have scored two or more power play goals in five of their last six games. The Rockets are 4-3-1-2 in ten 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 4+8=12 in his first ten games. Ian Duval has 5+6=11 in his first eight games with the Rockets. Riley Grantham has 0+2=2 in his first 9 games, including two fighting majors. Goaltender Mark Guggenberger is 5-2-1-1 with the Rockets, with wins over Kamloops (twice), Medicine Hat, Prince George and Tri City.
Benn Comes Up Big: Jamie Benn has nine goals in his last six games, and has goals in four 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 nine points in his last four games (7+2=9), and points in six of his last seven games. Benn has 124 career points in just 89 games. Benn is averaging 1.39 points per game over his career.
Who’s Hot: Colin Long has three goals in his last six games. Long has points in 5 of his last 6 games with 3+6=9 over that period. Stepan Novotny has 2+3=5 in his last four games. Ian Duval has goals in eight of his last eleven games. Brandon McMillan has 5+9=14 in his last 16 games. Tyson Barrie had 10 points (2+8=10) in 14 games in January. Tyler Myers has points in five of his last six games (1+6=7). Lucas Bloodoff has not scored in 12 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 988 regular season games. The Rockets have won 500 times while based in Kelowna.
Broadcaster Tidbits: The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals – ten times this season. The Rockets have managed to score 6 or more goals three times against the Cougars, twice against Kamloops, with single game outbursts against Medicine Hat, Kootenay, Everett, Chilliwack and Seattle. Last season the Rockets scored 6 or more goals 12 times… The Rockets are 28-6-0-1 when they score 3 or more goals. The Rockets are 10-10-0-2 in games where they’ve allowed 3 or more goals.
Milestones Within Reach:
Jamie Benn – is 11 games shy of 100 for his career. (89 games currently played) – 124 career points
Cody Almond – Played in his 200th career game January 10th vs. Prince George. – 151 career points
Lucas Bloodoff – played in 175th career game January 2nd vs. Spokane – 87 career points
Brandon McMillan – Played in 165th game January 7th against Seattle – 89 career points
Colin Long – Played in 200th WHL game January 9th vs. Portland. – 195 career points
Tyson Barrie – 87 career points
Tysen Dowzak – Played in his 200th career game Tuesday in Kamloops.