Monday, November 30, 2009

Gogol suspended 5 games

Kelowna Rockets forward Curt Gogol has been suspended for 5 games for a hit to the head on Kootenay Ice forward James Martin Saturday night. Gogol received a 5 minute major and game misconduct for charging. Gogol won't play until December 11th when the Rockets are in Brandon in game three of an eastern conference road trip.

Behind The Mic with Randy Merkley

Calling football championship games, teaching English overseas and vocal problems threatening his broadcasting career. It's all part of the story behind Chilliwack Bruins play-by-play voice Randy Merkley.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who was worse, the Rockets or the referee?

  • The Kelowna Rockets were as bad as referee Pat Smith last night. OK, not that bad. The Rockets showed good energy and pace for the first 20 minutes and then seemed to fall asleep in a 4-2 home ice loss to the Kootenay Ice.
  • The Ice scored a late first period goal to tie the game at one, a goal that appeared to rattle the home team. Giving up a late period goal is never a good thing, but is this team that fragile that allowing a late goal forces you to flatline for the remainder of the game? I hope this team has more mental resilience than that.
  • I take a poke at referee Pat Smith, who had no feeling for last night's game. This was a great game for 20 minute and then Smith gets involved by handing out several soft, questionable penalties that slowed the game down and made for a choppy affair. Six penalty calls in six minutes in the second period is a clear indication this veteran referee has no feel for the game. These two teams wanted to skate, not kill one another with dirty play. But those weak calls only frustrated the two teams and turned a skating game into a chippy affair. I was told afterwards that some fans left early, not because of the play on the ice, but how the game was officiated. We gather to watch junior hockey to be entertained by the teams, not the official.
  • I am not saying Smith was the direct result of the Rockets losing. That would be lame on my part. The Rockets are to blame for showing no spark in the final 40 minutes. But did Smith get involved when he should have stepped back and watched the two teams play? Yes!
  • The Rockets played this game without leading goal scorer Kyle St. Denis. St. Denis was hurt in the second period of Friday's win in Chilliwack. St. Denis is out with a neck strain.
  • I didn't like his play Thursday when he played for Team WHL against the Russian Selects but Ice defenseman Brayden McNabb impressed last night. McNabb had two goals and got involved in a third period scrap with Rockets forward Curt Gogol and was full marks for being named the games 1st star.
  • McNabb went at it with Gogol after a high hit on teammate James Martin. Martin received a shoulder to the head by Gogol as the defenseman was coming out the left side of his own net. Gogol was ejected from the game.
  • The most spirited scrap of the game came when Mitchell Callahan dropped the gloves with Ice forward Drew Czerwonka. Both traded punches with Callahan getting the decision. It was Callahan's first fight in 10 games.
  • Where has Lucas Bloodoff's scoring touch gone? One goal in 15 games for a 20 year-old forward is a concern.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ice 4 Rockets 2

More later..

Game notes vs. Ice

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets face the Ice for the one and only time this season. This is the first time the Ice have played in Kelowna since November 23/07 when the Rockets recorded a 7-6 overtime win. Colin Long scored the game winning goal just 44 seconds into the extra frame. These two teams last met October 5/08 in Cranbrook, with the Rockets earning a 6-3 victory. Cody Almond, Stepan Novotny, Kyle St. Denis and Brandon McMillan each had multiple point games. Former Ice goaltender Kris Lazaruk earned the win in goal against his old team. The Rockets enter tonight’s game having won back-to-back road games after a 2-0 win in Prince George last Saturday and a 2-1 win in Chilliwack last night. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Everett Wednesday before hosting Edmonton Friday and Tri City Saturday night.

November schedule not easy: The Rockets conclude a busy month of November when they play their 12th game in 24 nights against the Kootenay Ice. The Rockets are 5 and 6 in the first 11 games, with just two wins in seven road games during the month. The Rockets have scored just 25 goals during the month (2.27 per game) and have not scored 4 or more goals in ten games. The last time the Rockets scored 4 or more goals was in a 5-4 shoot-out win against Prince George on November 4th.

Halliday makes home debut: The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Tyler Halliday off waivers last Thursday. Halliday played earlier this season with the Prince George Cougars before being released. Halliday had 21 fighting majors last season and collected 161 penalty minutes, 6th best in the league. Halliday joins Lucas Bloodoff and Mark Guggenberger as the Rockets three 20 year-olds this season.

Last Game Recap: Shane McColgan scored twice while Brandon McMillan picked up two assists leading the Rockets to a 2-1 road win last night in Chilliwack. The Bruins out-shot the Rockets 33-29, with Adam Brown making some terrific saves in the win. The Rockets were 0 for 2 on the power play while Chilliwack was 0 for 4.

McMillan’s the man: Rockets forward Brandon McMillan was named Team WHL’s player of the game in Thursday nights 4-2 win over the Russian Selects. McMillan was joined in the Subway Super Series by teammate Tyson Barrie. Ryan Huska was an assistant coach for both games along with Giants bench boss Don Hay. Rockets athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn was also a part of the Team WHL training staff.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Brandon McMillan has points in fourteen of the twenty games he’s played this season. McMillan has 7+19=26 this season. Shane McColgan snapped a five game pointless streak last night with two goals. McColgan has points in 17 of the 26 games he’s played this season. McColgan also snapped a thirteen game goal scoring drought with a pair of goals last night in Chilliwack. Kyle St. Denis is three goals shy of his career high of 16 set two seasons ago. Geordie Wudrick has goals in two of the four games he has played with the Rockets this season and has a point in three of those four games (2+1=3).

Game Day Tidbits: Curt Gogol is tied for the WHL lead in penalty minutes with Randy McNaught of the Saskatoon Blades. Both players have 89.…Adam Brown is tied with Tri City’s Drew Owsley for the league lead in games played by a goaltender (25)….Brown is four games shy of the 29 he played all of last season…Mark Guggenberger is close to returning to the lineup. The 20 year-old goaltender started practicing with the team Tuesday and says he is ready to return to the lineup after missing the first 27 games with a pelvis injury….The Rockets have been involved in thirteen-one goal games this season. The Rockets are 6-6-1-0 in those thirteen games…Kyle St. Denis leads the team with 8 power play goals….Mitchell Callahan and Brandon McMillan are a team high +5….Curt Gogol now has 233 career WHL penalty minutes….Brandon McMillan has a team high 20 assist…McColgan is three points back of Medicine Hat’s Emerson Item for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…Tyson Barrie is riding a career high 14 game point streak after missing 8 straight games after being injured against Kamloops on September 25th. Barrie has 5+17=22 over those fourteen games…The Rockets are 13-13-1-0 after twenty-seven games this season. Last year the Rockets were 16-11-0-0 after twenty-seven games…The Rockets have scored 87 goals in twenty-seven games this season after scoring 103 times in the teams first twenty-seven games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed 79 goals against this season after surrendering 77 goals after twenty-seven games last year…Ryan Huska has 98 regular season victories as the Rockets head coach.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Super Series Success

  • A three goal second period was the key in Team WHL's 4-2 win Thursday night over the Russian Selects. Brandon McMillan (Rockets), Linden Vey (Tigers), Stefan Elliott (Blades) and Willie Coetzee (Rebels) scored goals for Team WHL while Martin Jones (Hitmen) had an easy night in goal.
  • Brandon McMillan was named the WHL player of the game for his power play goal in the second period. The obvious choice for the Russian Selects was goaltender Igor Bobkov, who was the best player on the ice for both teams. The Anaheim Duck draft pick faced 35 saves, many of the spectacular variety.
  • Before the puck even dropped the building was full of emotion when former Kelowna fire chief Gerry Zimmerman was introduced during the pre-game ceremony. Zimmerman was given a standing ovation for his efforts during the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire that destroyed over 200 Kelowna homes. Zimmerman has been battling health problems of late which almost claimed his life. The appreciation from the crowd brought tears to Zimmerman's eyes and left a lump in the throat of this radio broadcaster.
  • Who did themselves a favour with a solid performance Thursday night? Willie Coetzee (Red Deer) and Brandon Kozun (Calgary) impressed me while Linden Vey (Medicine Hat) didn't hurt his cause. I also liked Stefan Elliott (Saskatoon). Brayden McNabb (Kooteney) and Michael Stone (Calgary) didn't necessarily hurt their cause but didn't exactly bring that physical element that I expected to the table.
  • The Saskatoon Blades will be sour and Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton will not be pleased after forward Curtis Hamilton left the game with a shoulder injury. Hamilton was sent to hospital after leaving the contest in the first period.
  • Having a post game interview with Brandon McMillan. The interview will air this weekend on the WHL This Week with Jon Keen.
    The Russian's had a small cheering section during Thursday's game.
    Brandon McMillan gets TV time after being named the player of the game. This was a set up! Craig West you will pay. This is the view Gord and I had to the right of our broadcast booth thanks to the Sportsnet camera. Is that a camera or a rocket launcher?
    Ok, name bars are crucial when you are broadcasting a game where you are unfamiliar with the other team. The Russian Selects like to make life difficult by tucking their jersey's into their pants like these two. The name bar is located on the lower part of the jersey under the number. Oh, you can't see them either?
    Team WHL takes a team photo prior to puck drop.
    Brandon McMillan is front and centre on the photo as Team WHL captain.

    A few audio clips from Thursday's game.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    Can a Blazers forward receive applause at Prospera Place?

    Cougars forward Brett Connolly will play

    Curtis Hamilton on Super Series

    Super Series pre-game skate

    Two members of the Kelowna Rockets will participate in tonight's Subway Super Series game at Prospera Place. The names on the back of the jersey give it away.
    Rockets forward Brandon McMillan is Team WHL's captain tonight.

    Despite missing 17 games with a hip flexor, Prince George Cougars forward Brett Connolly will lace them up tonight against the Russians.

    Hitmen defenseman Michael Stone. Watch his physical play tonight. He's one of the best hitters in the game.

    Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert may have thought he died and gone to heaven as he led the defenseman through a series of drills before tonight's game. Those d-men making an impression tonight include Calgary's Michael Stone and Saskatoon's Stefan Elliott.

    This player should feel at home tonight. Saskatoon Blades forward Curtis Hamilton during the morning skate at Prospera Place.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    One goal win for Team WHL

    • Team WHL earned a 2-1 win over the Russian Selects Wednesday night as the Subway Super Series made a stop in Victoria.

    • Wacey Hamilton (Medicine Hat)and Levko Koper (Spokane) scored goals for the WHL, both in the third period. Calvin Pickard (Seattle) earned the win in goal.

    • Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie earned an assist on the Hamilton goal.

    • Barrie played a good portion of the game with defensive partner Brett Ponich (Portland).

    • The WHL will have 13 new players in their lineup when they face the Russian Selects Thursday night in Kelowna. Two of those players have links to Kelowna. Rockets forward Brandon McMillan will be Team WHL's captain while Curtis Hamilton (Saskatoon) will have a chance to play in the city he grew up in. Remember Bruce Hamilton's son Curtis was born in Tacoma Washington, not Kelowna.

    • On television it appeared to be a solid crowd in Victoria. Close to 7 thousand took in Wednesday's game as league officials watched carefully how fans responded as they look at Victoria as a great site to re-locate an existing team. Hello Victoria Cougars.

    • I noticed one significant upgrade that the arena in Victoria needs should they host another event where TV coverage is part of the package. New, brighter lighting is desperately needed in that building. The game did not show well on television. My feeling is the same dark look will be prominent when Thursday's game is played at Prospera Place. If you want an example of what quality 'TV friendly' lighting is like, go visit Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

    • I will be attending Thursday's practice and will post some pictures from the WHL's 45 minute workout.

    • My biggest fear in Thursday's game? Broken glass. After two pieces of shattered glass Friday and Saturday in games up in Prince George and then two more against Red Deer last week, I have a bad feeling about Thursday's game.

    The voice of the Prince George Cougars - Ron St. Clair

    On my second interview on 'Behind the Mic' we spend a few minutes with Prince George Cougars play-by-play man Ron St. Clair. St. Clair is one of the best stock car racing announcers you've every heard and he ain't bad at hockey either.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    The voice of the Spokane Chiefs - Mike Boyle

    I am running a new feature on our broadcasts this season called 'Behind the Mic'. I recently sat down and chatted with Spokane Chiefs radio play-by-play man Mike Boyle. Boyle is a beauty.

    Things that make me go hmm...

    • We are going to give it a try. AM 1150 is going to be broadcasting Thursday's Subway Super Series when Team WHL faces the Russian Selects. I'm looking forward to it as this game is as close as it gets to a WHL all-star game. We will have all the action at 6:45.
    • I admit to feeling sorry for 20 year-old goaltender Kurtis Mucha today. Just when the Portland Winterhawks have the potential for a long playoff run they trade him to Kamloops. No question Mucha is a quality individual, but is he really an upgrade to Justin Leclerc? The Blazers think so, and that's all the matters. But if you ask other WHL GM's you would likely get mixed reviews. I guess the Hawks made it clear they don't feel Mucha can lead them to a league title.
    • Had the Hawks traded Mucha last season can you imagine what they would have received in return? My feeling it would have been better than a 4th round bantam pick.
    • I will admit before the season started I said the Blazers strength would be it's goaltending. My belief is the problem goes far beyond the man in the crease.
    • Tyler Halliday still hasn't lost that huge smile off his face after being picked up by the Rockets last Thursday. The 20 year-old looks like he's won the lottery after being claimed off waivers. It was a tough weekend for Halliday though, who had to play back-to-back games against his old team. I think we will see the true 'Tyler Halliday' when the Rockets play Chilliwack and Kootenay this weekend.
    • I had to ask several members of the Prince George media what they thought of Tyler Halliday when the trade came down Thursday. One member of the media called him 'Leavold lite'. I don't think Halliday has the skill level Leavold brought to the table in his brief stint in Kelowna, but Halliday will defend his teammate and will attempt to change momentum by jumping on the dance floor.
    • The Rockets have been staying at the Coast Inn of the North in Prince George for the last 8 seasons. Can I make one suggestion? It's time for the hotel to make upgrades to it's rooms. I may be spoiled after last years playoff run where the Rockets stayed at the Westin in Calgary and Vancouver. Everything at the Westin is first class.
    • It was nice to see Stepan Novotny score his first goal in a Swift Current Broncos uniform Saturday night. My hope when the Rockets meet the Broncos next month in Swift Current is that Novotny scores for the Broncos, Geordie Wudrick replies for the Rockets and the visitors come through with a one goal victory. My feeling is Broncos play-by-play man Jon Keen will have a different take on the final outcome.
    • I don't want to look to far ahead but I was told by Rockets assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert that the team will dine at 'Wong's Kitchen' in Swift Current during our trip out east next month. Wong's Kitchen has been a staple in the Saskatchewan community for years. How long has the Chinese restaurant been in the community? I took my wife to that restaurant on our first date.
    • How did I spend my Sunday? All eyes were on the TV as the Riders beat the Stampeders for a birth in the Grey Cup. The only problem I can see with the Rider win is they play Montreal in the Grey Cup next Sunday, the same day as my wife's birthday. My wife is not a Rider nor football fan. Call me crazy but I see a problem here.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    Photo finish to the weekend

    For a second straight night a sheet of plexi glass shatters at the CN Centre. This mishap happened 15 seconds into the first period while Friday's delay happened during the Rockets warm up.

    What a night for Jung

    Here is an e-mail I recieved Saturday night from Torrie Jung.
    "The experience was unbelievable. I was pretty star-struck to be honest, just trying to soak it all in. It was a bit of a whirlwind day, got a call from my coach around 2, had to do some paper work and get to the rink for 5. Its something I'll never forget."

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    Road woes history

    • When you've lost five straight games and have failed to taste a road win in over a month, even a victory against the worst team in the WHL feels good. Kyle St. Denis and Cody Chikie each scored power play goals in a 2-0 shutout win Saturday night as the Kelowna Rockets beat the Prince George Cougars at the CN Centre.
    • St. Denis scored his 13th goal of the season when he picked up a nice pass from linemate Tyler Halliday. It was Halliday's first point in a Rockets uniform.
    • While the Rockets clicked for two power play goals, it was the clubs penalty killing unit that really impressed shutting out the Cougars in 6 chances.
    • The Rockets team discipline was much improved from Fridays 3-2 loss. A good example came early in the first period, when on a power play, Mitchell Callahan was poked in the face after a stoppage of play by Cougars captain Garrett Thiessen. Instead of retaliating, Callahan gave Thiessen a dirty look and skated away.
    • Geordie Wudrick extended his point streak to three games with an assist on St. Denis' first period power play goal. Wudrick has 2+1=3 in his first three games with his new team.
    • Tyson Barrie extended his point streak to 13 games with an assist on Chikie's third period power play goal. Calgary's Brandon Kozun has the longest point streak in the WHL at 16 games.
    • The biggest surprise this season has to be the play of 18 year-old forward Cody Chikie. Chikie has 9 goals, the third most on the team behind St. Denis (13) and Wudrick (10).
    • Is any penalty a good penalty. I thought Wudrick's boarding minor showed me something positive. Wudrick labeled Cougars forward Parker Stanfield into the side boards sending the Cougar forward to the ice grimacing in pain. A penalty was called but it again showed me that Wudrick isn't scared to finish a check and is willing to get involved physically. Wudrick appears to be in a good mind space which makes him a much better player.
    • Adam Brown earned his 5th career shutout.
    • The only fight of the night came when Greg Fraser elected to scrap with Curt Gogol. The spirited tilt lasted over 30 seconds as the two traded punches at center ice.
    • Shane McColgan returned to the lineup after sitting out Friday's game as a healthy scratch.
    • Former Rockets goaltender Torrie Jung got the surprise call Saturday that he would be the backup goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers game against Chicago. To hear the audio of the pre-game interview with Jung, click here:
    • Congrats to Stepan Novotny for scoring his first goal in a Swift Current Broncos uniform Saturday night in Cranbrook.

    Rockets game notes vs. Cougars

    Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets face the Cougars in the second of back-to-back games in Prince George this weekend. Last night the Cougars were a 3-2 winner. This is the 4th meeting of the season between these two teams. The Rockets are 2-1-0-0 against the Cougars, having out-scored them 14-8 in the seasonal series. The Rockets are playing their 6th game in nine nights. Overall the Rockets have lost five straight and seven straight games on opposition ice. Following these two games this weekend the Rockets are in Chilliwack next Friday before hosting Kootenay Saturday night.

    Seasonal Series Breakdown: The Rockets have out-shot the Cougars 114-72 in the first three games. The Rockets power play is 4 for 13 (30.8%) while the Cougars are 2 for 20 (10%) in the three games.

    Period 1 2 3 OT SO Total
    Rockets 3 3 7 0 1 14
    Cougars 4 2 2 0 0 8

    Halliday makes debut: The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Tyler Halliday off waivers Thursday. Halliday played earlier this season with the Prince George Cougars before being released. Halliday had 21 fighting majors last season and collected 161 penalty minutes, 6th best in the league. Halliday joins Lucas Bloodoff and Mark Guggenberger as the Rockets three 20 year-olds this season.

    Rockets make trade: The Rockets acquired 19 year-old Geordie Wudrick from the Swift Current Broncos Monday for 19 year-old Stepan Novotny and prospect Tanner Clark. Clark was the Rockets 3rd round bantam pick in 2008. It’s the fourth trade between the Broncos and Rockets in the last three seasons.

    Last Game Recap: Tyson Barrie assisted on both Rockets goals in a 3-2 loss last night in Prince George. Geordie Wudrick and Collin Bowman scored third period goals in the loss. The Rockets fired 40 shots on the Cougars net and were 1 for 6 on the power play. Adam Brown took the loss in goal.

    Representing the ‘Dub’: Two members of the Rockets will play for the WHL when a touring Russian team makes a stop in Victoria and Kelowna next week as part of the Subway Super Series. Brandon McMillan will be joined by teammate Tyson Barrie. McMillan will play in the game in Kelowna on November 26th while Barrie will play in both games. Ryan Huska is an assistant coach for both games along with Giants bench boss Don Hay. Rockets athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn is part of the Team Canada training staff for both games.

    Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Brandon McMillan has points in thirteen of the eighteen games he’s played this season. McMillan has 7+17=24 this season. Shane McColgan has gone four games without a point yet has a point in 16 of the 24 games he’s played this season. McColgan has not scored a goal in twelve games. His last goal was October 23rd in Tri City. Kyle St. Denis is four goals shy of his career high of 16 set two seasons ago. Geordie Wudrick has goals in back-to-back games.

    Game Day Tidbits: Adam Brown leads the league in games played by a goaltender (23)….The Rockets have been involved in twelve-one goal games this season. The Rockets are 5-6-1-0 in those twelve games…Kyle St. Denis leads the team with 7 power play goals….Mitchell Callahan is a team high +6….Curt Gogol now has 226 career WHL penalty minutes. ..Shane McColgan and Brandon McMillan have a team high 18 assist…McColgan is two points back of Medicine Hat’s Emerson Item for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…Tyson Barrie is riding a career high 12 game point streak after missing 8 straight games after being injured against Kamloops on September 25th. Barrie has 5+15=20 over those twelve games…The Rockets are 11-13-1-0 after twenty-five games this season. Last year the Rockets were 14-11-0-0 after twenty-five games…The Rockets have scored 83 goals in twenty-five games this season after scoring 94 times in the teams first twenty-five games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed 78 goals against this season after surrendering 75 goals after twenty-five games last year…Ryan Huska has 96 regular season victories as the Rockets head coach.

    No Show, No Problem

    • Brett Connolly was a no show Friday night. His team didn't need him. The Prince George Cougars opened a six game homestand last night with a 3-2 win over the Kelowna Rockets. Much of the hype before the game centered around Connolly's return to the lineup from a hip flexor injury, but the 17 year-old was unable to play because of the flu. It was another 17 year-old, Brock Hirsche that scored the game winning goal on a third period power play leading the Cougars to the one goal win.
    • Expect several NHL scouts to be on an airplane heading out of Prince George today after hoping to see Connolly play Friday night. The belief is the projected 1st round pick won't be healthy enough to play Saturday night when the two teams meet again, meaning all eyes will be on him when he dresses for the WHL during the Subway Super Series later this week in Victoria and Kelowna.
    • The Rockets managed just seven shots in the opening period with three golden opportunities providing little in the way of results. Mitchell Callahan clings one off the cross-bar in the opening frame before Kyle St. Denis misses the net on a breakaway. The Rockets created scoring chances throughout the game but struggled when it came to execution.
    • While the Rockets directed 40 shots at the Cougars net, how many resulted in point blank second opportunities? The answer. Very few. I'm sorry but Cougars goaltender Alex Wright may be a good goaltender, but he isn't great. On this night the Rockets made him look better than he really is.
    • Rockets forward Geordie Wudrick scored his first power play goal of the season in the third period on a two-on-one passing play with Kyle St. Denis. St. Denis made a nice pass to Wudrick who one-timed the puck past Wright to make it a 2-1 game. Unfortunately Wudrick took a penalty resulting in the game winning goal with the 6 foot 3 forward sitting in the box.
    • Tyler Halliday made his Rockets debut Friday night and started the game alongside Wudrick and St. Denis. I would suggest that Halliday's evening was uneventful other than a spirited chat he had with former teammate Kurt Torbohm after the veteran defenseman made a high hit that caught Halliday in the head.
    • Rockets rookie forward Shane McColgan was given the night off. McColgan watched this one from the bleachers as a healthy scratch.
    • The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes when a sheet of glass was shattered during the Rockets warmup. Instead of the scheduled 7 o'clock start time, the opening faceoff took place at around 7:15.
    • The loss was the Rockets 7th straight on the road and 5th in a row.
    • The win was the Cougars first in 10 games.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Rockets lose 7th straight road game

    Prince George 3 Kelowna Rockets 2 Final. More later....

    Welcome to Prince George

    I had the pleasure of traveling to Prince George by air, arriving at 8:30 this morning. The hour and 10 minute flight beats 8 hours on the bus any day. I arrived to snow, yet a temperature of about +2.
    Assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert runs the workout.

    The newest Rocket, Tyler Halliday stretches during this mornings skate.

    Two Rockets take a spin after a pre-game skate at the CN Centre this morning. Codey Ito is on the left while Cody Chikie is on the right.

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Rockets pick up 20 year-old

    The Rockets acquire 20 year-old forward Tyler Halliday from Prince George. These are the details I am getting from Allan Bristowe of CKPG in Prince George.
    From what I am told, Halliday is a great team guy. He likes to get involved physically and is no stranger to fighting. He had 21 fighting majors last season. Halliday was 6th in the WHL in penalty minutes with 161 pims last season, 32 fewer than former Rocket Ryley Grantham. Halliday had 15 goals as a 19 year-old last season. Originally a member of the Red Deer Rebels, Halliday joined the Cougars in 2008-09. Halliday was released by the Cougars last week so essentially is picked up by the Rockets for nothing. Halliday, a Kamloops resident, joins Lucas Bloodoff and goaltender Mark Guggenberger as the Rockets three overage players.
    I am flying out to Prince George Friday morning so I will have Halliday on our pre-game show tomorrow night.

    Rockets effort puts damper on Wudrick's debut

    • It's not often the Kelowna Rockets give up 44 shots to the opposition on home ice, but Wednesday night was one of those rare occasions. The Portland Winterhawks fired 19 shots on goal in the first period alone in a 4-2 road win. Goaltender Adam Brown was the only reason why the Rockets had a legitimate chance of sending the game into overtime after a Geordie Wudrick goal late in the third period. Brad Ross ended any hope with an empty netter for the Hawks 16th win of the season.

    • The Hawks dominated play in the first period specifically. The majority of the period was played inside the Rockets zone to a degree I have not seen this season. It appeared that the Hawks simply wanted the puck more than the Rockets did. After speaking to head coach Ryan Huska after the game it only confirmed what I saw. While the visitors were good, the home team was just that bad.

    • Huska credited 18 year-old Cody Chikie for being the teams best forward. He also suggested that some veteran forwards may have to sit out this weekend to get the message across that their sub-par work ethic won't be tolerated.

    • The Hawks were no where near this dominant when these two teams played one another Saturday night in Portland. Getting to loose pucks first, pin point passing and very few defensive miscues resulted in a solid effort by the road team. It's been suggested that the Hawks play better on the road than they do at home. I am buying into that theory after what I saw Wednesday.

    • Geordie Wudrick made his Rockets debut and didn't disappoint. Wudrick started the game with veterans Brandon McMillan and Kyle St. Denis, but neither had strong games to support what Wudrick was wanting to accomplish. As expected Wudrick worked hard, initiated contact and scored his first goal in a Rockets uniform in the third period after a breakaway pass from teammate Tyson Barrie. Wudrick ends the game a minus 2, but one of those goals that was scored against him was the empty netter from Hawks forward Brad Ross.

    • Wudrick's goal was his first in 12 games. He was do.

    • Give the Hawks credit for staying out of the penalty box. The Rockets were handed no power play chances after two periods before getting three chances in the third.

    • Rockets forward Curt Gogol again found himself involved in a fight, this time with Hawks enforcer Tayler Jordon. Jordon is 6'6 and 200 pounds while Gogol is just 6'0, 178 pounds. Giving up 20 pounds and 6 inches in a scrap is almost unheard of...unless your name is Curt Gogol.

    • The Rockets have now lost 4 straight and are 0 and 9 against American based teams this season.

    • The Rockets slipped into 7th in the Western Conference with the loss. Technically they are tied for 8th with Kamloops, but are granted 7th because of more wins.

    • The Rockets gave up 44 shots on goal, the most this season. The previous high was 37 given up opening night against Vancouver.
    • The Rockets have not given up that many shots in one game since giving up 48 shots on goal on the road in Vancouver September 30, 2007 in a 5-0 loss.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    This negative talk is getting on my nerves

    Ok, I've read some negative things over the last couple of days about Geordie Wudrick, most of which is coming from hockey fans in Swift Current.
    Like any player who is traded, they come with baggage and Wudrick is no exception. But is all the negative talk about this player really valid?
    I found it interesting that Wudrick scored his 35 goals last season as an 18 year-old.
    Take a guess how many other 18 year-old players scored 35 or more goals last season in the WHL outside of Wudrick.
    The answer?
    Evander Kane, Brandon Kozun and Jordan Eberle.
    That's it.
    Statistically speaking Wudrick scored the fourth most goals of any 18 year-old in the the WHL last season. Red Deer's Landon Ferraro scored over 35 goals at the tender age of 17.
    I will reserve judgement on Wudrick until I see him play night in and night out, but for Bronco fans to trash this player just doesn't add up.
    Sorry I don't buy it.
    I heard the same talk when Brady Leavold came here and he was gold for this team. Leavold got his act together once he came to Kelowna and proved he was a good player. He too needed a change, and benefited greatly from it. I expect Wudrick to do the same.
    Has Wudrick struggling this season? Does he have work ethic deficiencies in his game? Sure he does. He was not playing good hockey this season and was playing well below his ability. He needed a change, and now he's gotten one. But is Wudrick a pretty good player that deserves some credit for his accomplishments?
    Oh, ya!
    You don't score 35 times as an 18 year-old without having some ability. Funny think is I have yet to hear or read a Bronco fan make that same claim.
    Why do I come to his defense?
    Yes, he now plays for the Rockets, so that's a starter. The second reason is I hate to see junior players being bashed, specifically if statistics prove otherwise.
    I won't defend Wudrick on this blog again...I've done my talking. Call it my rant. This blog is called Regan's Rant.
    My wish is for Geordie Wudrick to do his talking in one area only, on the ice.

    Game notes vs. Hawks

    Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets return home after a three game road trip to host the Portland Winterhawks tonight. These two teams met four days ago in Portland with the Hawks earning a one goal win. This is the second of four games between these two teams this season. They meet again on January 15th before closing out the seasonal series February 20th in Portland. The Rockets are riding a three game winning streak on home ice, having out-scored their opponent 10-5. The last loss at home was a 4-3 setback to Spokane October 30th. Following tonight’s game the Rockets play back-to-back games in Prince George and enter a stretch of games playing 4 of their next five on the road. The only home game over that stretch is November 28th against Kootenay.

    Digging Deeper: The Rockets were 2-0-0-0 against the Hawks on home ice last season. The Rockets won both games 6-2 and 5-4 in a shootout. The Rockets are riding a 7 game winning streak against the Hawks at home. The last win by Portland at Prospera Place was September 24, 2005 in a 6-3 win. Brandon Dubinsky was named the first star by scoring twice and adding two assists.

    Rockets make trade: The Rockets acquired 19 year-old Geordie Wudrick from the Swift Current Broncos Monday for 19 year-old Stepan Novotny and prospect Tanner Clark. Clark was the Rockets 3rd round bantam pick in 2008. It’s the fourth trade between the Broncos and Rockets in the last three seasons.

    Last Game Recap: The Kelowna Rockets were shutout for the first time this season in a 1-0 loss Sunday in Spokane. James Reid made 26 saves in the win. Adam Brown took the loss making 20 saves. The Rockets were 0 for 3 on the power play while the Chiefs were 0 for 2.

    Representing the ‘Dub’: Two members of the Rockets will play for the WHL when a touring Russian team makes a stop in Victoria and Kelowna next month as part of the Subway Super Series. Brandon McMillan will be joined by teammate Tyson Barrie. McMillan will play in the game in Kelowna on November 26th while Barrie will play in both games. Ryan Huska is an assistant coach for both games along with Giants bench boss Don Hay. Rockets athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn is part of the Team Canada training staff for both games.

    Power Outage: The Rockets have gone back-to-back games without a power play goal. The Rockets were 0 for 3 against Spokane Sunday and failed to score on 4 chances against Portland Saturday night. The Rockets scored two power play goals in a 4-2 loss in Everett on Friday. Despite the recent slide, the Rockets have scored a power play goal in eighteen of the twenty-three games this season.

    Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Brandon McMillan has points in thirteen of the sixteen games he’s played this season. McMillan has 7+17=24 this season and has five goals in his last nine games. Shane McColgan has points in 15 of his last 20 games. McColgan has 6+17=23 over that period. McColgan has a point in 16 of the 23 games he’s played this season. McColgan has not scored a goal in eleven games. His last goal was October 23rd in Tri City. Kyle St. Denis is four goals shy of his career high of 16 set two seasons ago. St. Denis had a four game goal scoring streak snapped Sunday. St. Denis has 8 goals in his last 12 games. Geordie Wudrick has gone 11 games without a goal. His last goal was October 21st vs. Kamloops.

    Game Day Tidbits: The Rockets have been involved in eleven-one goal games this season. The Rockets are 5-5-1-0 in those eleven games…Kyle St. Denis leads the team with 7 power play goals….Mitchell Callahan is a team high +8….Curt Gogol collected his 200th career WHL penalty minute Friday night in Everett. Gogol now has 215 career WHL penalty minutes. ..Shane McColgan and Brandon McMillan have a team high 18 assist…McColgan is two points back of Medicine Hat’s Emerson Item for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…Tyson Barrie is riding a 10 game point streak after missing 8 straight games after being injured against Kamloops on September 25th. Barrie has 4+12=16 over those ten games…The Rockets are 11-11-1-0 after twenty-three games this season. Last year the Rockets were 12-11-0-0 after twenty-three games…The Rockets have scored 79 goals in twenty-three games this season after scoring 84 times in the teams first twenty-three games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed 71 goals against this season after surrendering 71 goals after twenty-three games last year…Ryan Huska has 96 regular season victories as the Rockets head coach.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Central scoutings list doesn't include Adam Brown

    I have to admit I was a little surprised when I didn't see Adam Brown's name on the list of Central Scouting's preliminary rankings for this summers NHL draft.
    The list, released today, featured the top 20 players eligible from the Western Hockey League and the top six goaltenders.
    Adam Brown's name wasn't there.
    The only think I can think of is size. At 5'10 maybe NHL scouts aren't sure he's big enough?
    This doesn't mean Brown won't get drafted, but to see six goalies ahead of him from the WHL did surprise me.
    No other eligible Rockets player made the list either. Ok, maybe that's not exactly true. Luke Moffatt, Rockets property, is rated 13th of eligible U.S players heading into the draft.
    Curtis Hamilton, Rockets gm Bruce Hamilton's son, is rated 12th while fellow Kelowna resident Ryan Harrison is ranked 14th.

    Wudrick @ Practice

    Geordie Wudrick arrived at Rockets practice today. The 19 year-old forward was wearing a helmet with #11 on the back...Colin Long's old number. Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton says Wudrick will play alongside Brandon McMillan. I would anticipate Kyle St. Denis will also be on that unit.

    Wudrick tidbits

    • Wudrick was one of 17 players in the WHL to score 35 or more goals last season. Wudrick had as many goals as Regina Pats sharp shooter Jordan Eberle.
    • With over 500 players making up the 22 teams in the WHL, Wudrick was one of just 3% of the players in the league to score that many goals.
    • Wudrick had two more goals than Rockets leading scorer Colin Long last season.
    • Wudrick did not attend LA Kings training camp this fall after suffering from appendicitis.
    • Wudrick played in Notre Dame (Wilcox, Saskatchewan) before joining the Broncos full time as a 16 year-old.
    • Wudrick is no stranger to players in the Rockets dressing room. He is a former teammate of goaltenders Mark Guggenberger and Chad Ketting.
    • Wudrick played summer hockey with Kyle St. Denis and Brandon McMillan.
    • Wudrick's father is an RCMP officer in Swift Current.
    • The Rockets and Broncos have been trading partners over the last three years. In 2007 - Brady Leavold. In 2008 - Mark Guggenberger. In 2009 - Chad Ketting and now Geordie Wudrick.
    • This is not the first time the Rockets have sent a European player to the Broncos in a trade. The Rockets traded Thomas Raffl to Swift Current in 2005.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Wudrick speaks on trade

    I spoke to Geordie Wudrick from his hotel room in Regina tonight. Wudrick will fly out to Kelowna for practice on Tuesday.

    RB: How did you learn about the trade?

    GW:"There were some rumours going around I guess this morning and last night. I just went to practice and went along like I do every day and I got a call into Mark Lamb's office and he pretty much told me straight out then that I got traded to Kelowna".

    RB: Clarify for me Geordie, did you ask for a trade?

    GW: "This year I hadn't done that. This year was something that worked out for both organizations."

    RB: Talk about you time with the Broncos organization:

    GW: "Obviously it's a smaller town and everyone knows who you are. For me being a high draft pick, there were lots of expectations. Fans can get on your case. Everyone is passionate. I know the fans in Kelowna are passionate about their team".

    RB: I heard some negative talk from fans in Swift Current that you failed to live up to the high billing. How did that affect you?

    GW: "It affects you a little bit. It's more disappointing. I played parts of five different seasons there since I was 15. It tried my best and gave it a 100 percent effort there, so whether they want to appreciate you is kind of out of your control. They pay to watch you play so they have their own right on what they want to say."

    RB: Being the 2nd overall pick in the 2005 WHL bantam draft. What type of pressure did you feel because you were drafted so high?

    GW:"There is always going to be pressure regardless of where you are getting drafted. The higher you go the more expectations there are . I think it's deserving too. They (team) draft you for a reason. They believe in your potential and you just have to try to not let it affect you. I think I've handled it pretty well for the most part".

    RB: Can you improve on your 35 goal season?

    GW: "I think after that season your goal is to go in and improve on that. I think consistency is the biggest thing. Last year I had a bit of a slow start but I still finished off with 35, so hopefully I can get things going and hopefully try to add on to that".

    RB: So if you need to improve something in your 19 year-old season, what is it?

    GW: "I think definitely consistency is something that everyone wants to work on. I think everyone can put together flashes of greatness and flashes of dominance but to bring that night in and night out is definitely something that I want to going into Kelowna here".

    RB: Playing in Swift Current in December. Will you be excited about returning there?

    GW:"I got that circled already. It's kind of crazy how fast it's going to come. I'm really looking forward to that and helping our team win on the Eastern trip".

    LA King draft pick now a Rocket

    Nineteen year-old Geordie Wudrick is now the newest member of the Kelowna Rockets.
    Wudrick, a 35 goal scorers with the Swift Current Broncos last season, was acquired from the Broncos today for 19 year-old Stepan Novotny and a prospect (Tanner Clark).
    Wudrick should be in the lineup Wednesday, at home, against the Portland Winterhawks.

    Check out this video on the Rockets latest addition.

    Here is another video after Wudrick was drafted in the 3rd round by the LA Kings:

    • More notes on Wudrick after some research:

    • Wudrick has played 240 career games. He will play in his 250th career game December 9th in Regina. Wudrick plays against his old team, Swift Current, a day earlier.

    • Wudrick has 76 career goals and 140 career points.
    • Despite a career high 35 goals last season, Wudrick failed to score in his first 12 games
    • The 19 year-old made his WHL debut oddly enough in Kelowna against the Rockets as a 15 year-old on December 14, 2005.
    • Wudrick's first WHL goal was scored in Chilliwack October 6, 2006.
    • Wudrick is a first round bantam pick of the Swift Current Broncos from 2005. Wudrick was taken 2nd overall in that draft, the highest player ever selected by the Broncos organization. The top pick in 2005 was Colten Teubert, who was taken #1 by the Regina Pats.
    • Wudrick has scored 45 of his 76 career goals on home ice (59%).
    • Wudrick has 8 goals this season - all on home ice.
    • Wudrick has one career hattrick after a three goal effort this season in Moose Jaw.
    • Wudrick's longest career goal scoring streak is 7 games set last season.
    • Wudrick's longest point streak is 14 games set last season.
    • Wudrick has scored a goal in Kelowna. On December 12, 2008 Wudrick scored.
    • Despite standing 6'3 and weighing 210 pounds, Wudrick is a skilled forward. He has just two fighting majors over his career.
    • Wudrick is a former teammate of Rockets alumni Brady Leavold.

    Testing Connection

    Testing connection.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Road woes continue

    • You can make it 5 straight road losses for the Kelowna Rockets after dropping a 3-2 decision last night in Portland. Despite scoring the first two goals of the game, the Hawks scored the final three in the one goal victory. The five game losing streak on the road matches a five gamer back in the 2007-2008 season when the team dropped five in a row before beating Brandon 5-4 on December 12/07.
    • If you are counting, the Rockets have been out-scored 22-12 during the five game slide.
    • Last season the Rockets lost four straight games on the road.
    • The Rockets started rookie Chad Ketting in goal and he made some solid saves. My feeling is two of the three goals could have been prevented though. I thought the Hawks first goal of the game on the power play could have been stopped as it beat Ketting high to the blocker side, short side. The second goal was the result of miscommunication between Ketting and defenseman Antonie Corbin at the side of the net. With both players indecisive about playing it or freezing it, the Hawks forward jammed at it and poked it into the back of the net. It's those mental miscues that this team can ill afford.
    • Lucas Bloodoff sat this one out. The Rockets team captain is the latest to suffer from the flu. Who's next?
    • Team Canada officials must be taking notice of what Tyson Barrie is doing. Since returning from an injury in the third game of the season against Kamloops, Barrie has a point in all ten games he's played. That's a career high point streak. Despite playing on an amazing team last season, Barrie's longest point streak was just 5 games.
    • When was the last time you fought someone who was 6'7? Never? Curt Gogol has. Gogol dropped the gloves with Hawks d-man Brett Ponich last night in a first period fight. Ponich towers over anyone he scraps with but to see Gogol engaged with the St. Louis Blues draft pick was impressive.
    • Who was the biggest surprise when it came to watching the Hawks? The play of rookie Nino Niederreitter. I couldn't believe how physical he was. Sure he's skilled, but in no way is he a soft player. Two of the toughest Euro's on this road trip has been Neiderreitter and Radko Gudas out of Everett.
    • Despite the Rockets recent woes, it's interesting to point out that they have almost the exact record they had after 22 games last season. But a word of caution here. The team appeared to take off in game 23, winning 9 of their next 13 games. Is this a sign of things to come?
    • I had the pleasure of running into Dan Folwick, the former public address announcer for the Hawks. Folwick was kind enough to present to me a mug commemorating his 600th game as the public address announcer in Portland. Folwick stepped down from his post this summer after nearly 20 years. It just seemed odd when the Hawks entered the ice surface last night and Dan's big voice saying "Here come the Hawks' was no where to be found.
    • Shane McColgan's father took in last night's game.
    • Tyson Barrie's grandfather was in the stands watching.
    • I ran into a gentleman with a nice looking Tacoma Rockets jersey. I asked him who he was. It was Steve Oviatt's dad. Oviatt is a former athletic therapist with the Rockets.
    • I hope you enjoyed the video of the Portland cheerleaders. I think they were called the Rosebuds? The video doesn't show the uniforms very well, which sport the Hawks logo on the front. If your wondering, the shoes the girls wear on the ice do have spikes.

    Would this work in Kelowna?

    Would cheerleaders be accepted at Rockets home games? It works in Portland.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Fighting for 4th

    • It's not often that the team that peppers the opposition goal with close to 40 shots is on the losing ending, but that's what happened Friday night in Everett. The Rockets generated 39 shots on goal, 17 in the third period, in a 4-2 loss to the Silvertips. While Tips goaltender Thomas Heemskerk was solid, he wasn't overly spectacular. Often times the Rockets shooters avoided shooting for the corners, electing instead to fire the puck into Heemskerk's midsection.
    • Two of the Tips four goals were the result of goal mouth scrambles where Rockets goaltender Adam Brown was unable to locate the puck. The other two goals were identical power play markers scored off the stick of Tyler Maxwell.
    • Readers of this blog have been critical of forward Tyler Matheson, but let's give the 19 year-old props for a first period fight with Tips enforcer Cameron Abney. Matheson wasn't the victor, nor did he lose. The fact that he showed up and answered the bell was a good sign.
    • It was good to see Stepan Novotny find the back of the net. Novotny's power play goal in the third period was his first in 7 games.
    • Tyson Barrie extended his point streak to 9 games with a goal in the third period.
    • Brandon McMillan chipped in with assists on both Novotny and Barrie's goal.
    • The Rockets played this one without Kyle St. Denis, Spencer Main and MacKenzie Johnston. All three are fighting the flu.
    • The Rockets have now lost 4 straight road games heading into Saturday's contest in Portland.
    • The Rockets sit in 5th place in the Western Conference, two points back of Everett and one point up on 6th place Kamloops. The Blazers are in Spokane Saturday night.
    • The Rockets are now 0 and 6 against American based teams this season.
    • The Detroit Red Wings scouting staff were well represented at the game. Among the Wings scouting staff was former Rockets assistant coach Jeff Finley.
    • The crowd in Everett was again rock'n. The atmosphere in that building is second to none.

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Pics from Everett

    How about this for a Zamboni?
    Comfort for the driver is obviously a priority.
    Rockets injured forward Evan Bloodoff made the trip and was on a bike located outside the teams dressing room.
    A picture taken high above the ice surface as the Rockets prepare for tonight's game in Everett.
    I like this ad in the concourse at the Comcast Arena. The lacrosse team known as the Washington Stealth know how to get their message across.