Friday, April 3, 2009

Game Notes vs. Americans

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets and Tri City Americans are meeting in game one of a seven game Western Conference Semi Final Series. Game two is tomorrow night with games three and four back in Kelowna next Tuesday and Wednesday. Game five is Friday in Kennewick. These two teams met four times over the regular season, with the Rockets earning two wins in the four games. The Americans out-scored the Rockets 12-9. These two teams met three times prior to the trade deadline, with a single meeting following the deadline on January 14th, in a 3-2 Rockets win. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a twelve game winning streak (8 in regular season – 4 in playoffs). These two teams are meeting for the first time in the playoffs since a 6 game second round playoff series in 2004. In that series the road team won the first four games before the Rockets captured game five on home with a 7-2 win. Of the six games played in that series, four were decided by a single goal. Three of the first four games went into overtime.

Digging Deeper: In the four game seasonal series, the home team won every game. The Americans out-shot the Rockets 110-109 in the four games. The Rockets were 2 for 14 on the power play (14.3%) in the four game set while the Americans were 1 for 22 (5%). The Rockets did not allow a power play goal in three of the four games.

Seasonal Series Scoring:

1 2 3 Total

Rockets: 0 2 7 9

Americans: 6 3 3 12

What Happened In Round One: The Rockets eliminated the Kamloops Blazers in four straight games in the opening round. Overall the Rockets out-scored the Blazers 17-8 in the four games. Jamie Benn led the Rockets with ten points in the series (3+7=10), while Cody Almond, Tyson Barrie, and Tyler Myers each had five points apiece. Mark Guggenberger started in all four games, going 4-0-0-0, with a goals against average of 1.91.

Benn+Long=Points in Playoffs: Jamie Benn has 21 career playoff points in just 11 games. Benn has 6+15=21. What’s most impressive is Benn has a point in every playoff game he’s been involved in. Benn is riding an 11 game point streak in the playoffs dating back to last season. Colin Long has 16 playoff points in his career (3+13=16). Long has playoff points in 9 of his last 11 games.

In Case You Are Wondering: Last season the Rockets were involved in an opening round playoff series with Seattle. The Rockets won the first two games in Seattle before losing 3-2 in overtime in game three back in Kelowna. In fact the road team won the first four games of the series before the home team won the final three games. The Rockets lost in seven games to the T-Birds, four games to three.

Playoff Experience: Overage forward Ian Duval leads the Rockets in playoff experience with 46 games under his belt. Duval was part of a Calgary Hitmen team that went all the way to the Eastern Conference final last season before losing out in four straight games to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The Season That Was: The Rockets finished in third place in the Western Conference, three points up on the fourth place Spokane Chiefs and three behind the second place Tri City Americans. The Rockets scored the second most goals in the Western Conference this season and the 5th most overall. Defensively, the Rockets allowed the third fewest goals against in the Western Conference behind only Vancouver and Spokane. The Rockets won the 4th most home games in the WHL (28). Only Calgary (32), VancouverTri City (30) had more home ice wins. The Rockets had the 4th best penalty killing unit in the league and the 5th best power play.

That’s A Fact Jack: The Rockets have not been past the second round of the playoffs since 2005, the year they won a league title....Rockets forward Lucas Bloodoff was originally selected in the WHL Bantam Draft by the Tri City Americans. Bloodoff was a 6th round pick in 2004. Bloodoff never played a game with the Americans before his rights were traded to Kelowna for a 3rd round selection….The name Curt Gogol will mean something to Americans head coach Don Nachbaur. Nachbaur played junior hockey with Curt Gogol’s father Brent when the two were teammates with the Billings Bighorns in the late 70’s. Gogol is a first year forward/defenseman with the Rockets….Kelowna Rockets forward Colin Long was named the WHL Player of the Month for March. Long had 14 points in the final 7 games of the regular season to capture the award….Cody Almond officially signed an NHL contract with the Minnesota Wild this week. Almond is now the third Rockets player to sign an NHL deal, yet remains in junior hockey. Mikael Backlund (Calgary) and Jamie Benn (Dallas) are also on that list….Tyler Mosienko is the Rockets franchise leader in playoff games played (81) and points (57)….Cam Paddock is the franchise leader in playoff goals with 22….Rockets forward Colin Long has led the Rockets in scoring in back-to-back seasons. It marks just the second time in franchise history a player has earned the team scoring title. Allan Egeland led the Tacoma Rockets with 113 points in 1992-93 and then put up 76 points in the 1993-94 season. Long led the team in points with 100 last season and managed 91 points this year….Colin Long had 191 points over his last two seasons. Only Jason Deleurme has registered more points in back-to-back seasons, collecting 194 points from 1996-1998.

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