Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets play their first road game of the season tonight against the Tri City Americans. These two teams are meeting for the first time since the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, a series the Rockets won in six games. These two teams will meet four times this season (2 at home – 2 on the road). The Rockets host the Americans on Oct 13 and December 5th and make a return appearance to the Toyota Center on October 23rd. Oddly enough the Rockets face the Americans three times in their next 11 games. The Rockets are coming off a 6-5 overtime loss Thursday night to the Vancouver Giants. Stepan Novotny scored four times and added an assist while Mitchell Callahan had a goal and two helpers. Adam Brown took the loss in goal making 31 saves. The Rockets were 1 for 4 on the power play while the Giants were 3 for 6 with the extra man. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Kamloops Friday night.
It Ain’t Easy: Winning hockey games for the Kelowna Rockets at the Toyota Center over the years hasn’t been easy. Despite playoff success in that building, the Rockets are riding a 6 game regular season losing streak at the Toyota Center heading into tonight’s game. The last Rockets regular season win came February 25/06 in a 4-3 victory. Justin Keller’s power play goal in the 3rd period – his 45th of the season – led the Rockets to the win.
Game Day Tidbits: Prior to Stepan Novotny’s five point effort against the Giants Thursday night, who was the last Rockets player to register five points? Jamie Benn had 4+1=5 in the second game of the 2009 Memorial Cup in a 6-4 win over Drummondville….When was the last time the Rockets gave up 6 goals in a home opener? In 2007 the Rockets fell 6-5 in overtime to the Tri City Americans. Eric Felde scored the game winning goal for the visitors on the power play…Mitchell Chapman, Colton Jobke, Codey Ito, MacKenzie Johnston, Brady Poulsen and Jessey Astles all made their WHL debuts Thursday night…Brandon McMillan is expected to be in the Rockets lineup tonight after attending the training camp of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. McMillan attended the Canadian World Junior team evaluation camp this summer…Since the start of the 2000-2001 campaign the Rockets are 3-5-0-0 with one tie in the first road game of the season. Last season the Rockets lost their first road game of the year (5-2) in Tri City on Sept 20/08).
Who’s Gone: The Rockets lose several key players to graduation following the 2008-2009 season. Twenty year-olds Ian Duval, Ryley Grantham and defenceman Tysen Dowzak are no longer with the team while Jamie Benn, Mikael Backlund and Cody Almond have all signed pro contracts and will not return this season. As of tonight’s game, the Rockets are missing their top five playoff point getters from last season. Tyler Myers is in that group, yet can return to the Rockets this season if he fails to earn a spot this season as a 19 year-old with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Outside of overager Tysen Dowzak, the Rockets return their entire defensive core, including goaltenders Mark Guggenberger and Adam Brown.
What’s New: The Rockets will dress no less than three 16 year-olds this season in Shane McColgan, MacKenzie Johnston and Jessey Astles. McColgan was the Rockets first round pick in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft while Johnston was listed by the team following a tryout two seasons ago. Astles is the Rockets 6th round pick in the 2008 bantam draft. McColgan played four regular season games with the Rockets as a 15 year-old last season and then joined the team for the playoffs, dressing in an additional four games. The Rockets also welcome a new assistant coach to head skipper Ryan Huska. Dan Lambert has joined the staff after the departure of Jeff Finley, who took a job as a scout with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.