Kyle Beach Interview

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Is Nice!


This is how the ice looked at 5 am in the morning when we arrived in Kent. High school basketball was the focal point Friday night at the Showare Center.

The visitors dressing room. "Excuse me sir, can you help me find section 14 and 15? Oh it's staring me right in the face with the larger than life green numbers. Thank you!"



At ice level. I would think this section on ice level is for wheel chair ticket holders only? What a great seat!

This is the score clock at a dead standstill at 5 am in the morning. Wait till this puppy lights up like a Christmas tree at game time!




Like I said, new is nice. New workout bikes, clean black floors you can eat off of. Even the green walls are eye catching. I'll take more pictures prior to game time when the building comes alive. I'll even take a pic or two outside of the building. First impressions? Nice junior rink.

Rockets A Perfect 10!

  • The Rockets were do to break out offensively, and elected to explode Friday night at home against the Medicine Hat Tigers in a 10-1 romp. The Rockets scored five times in the second period in the lopsided victory. Cody Almond led the way with three goals while Jamie Benn and Mitchell Callahan added a pair each in the team’s 29th win of the season. It was also the Rockets third straight win.
  • The Rockets depth was the key in the victory with all four lines contributing in some significant way. If a line wasn’t generating offense, they were providing a solid fore-check or issuing a big hit. It was a complete team effort that resulted in the lopsided score.
  • While everyone witnessed the Rockets flex their offensive muscles, don’t discredit early saves from goaltender Mark Guggenberger when the game was scoreless. The Tigers were equally as good as the Rockets in the first 15 minutes before Mitchell Callahan collecting a rebound shot off the end boards on a blue line drive from Tysen Dowzak and scored to make it 1-0. The Tigers didn’t let that first goal by the home team shake them though, scoring the tying goal just over a minute later. It was Stepan Novotny’s goal 47 seconds after the Tigers tied it that proved to the visitors that the home team was going to be a force to be reckoned with.
  • A total of thirteen players were involved in the scoring. Included on that list was goaltender Mark Guggenberger, who picked up an assist. Almond (3+0=3), Benn (2+1=3), Callahan (2+1=3), Backlund (0+3=3) and Novotny (1+2=3) all had three point efforts. Lucas Bloodoff, Colin Long and Tysen Dowzak each had two assist nights.
  • Tyler Myers was a team high +5.
  • The ten goal outburst was the first time the Rockets have hit double-digits since scoring 11 times in an 11-1 win over the Vancouver Giants January 5, 2002. Jesse Ferguson scored three times in that win, while Nick Marach had two goals and two assists. The Rockets also scored 10 goals in a 10-3 win over Moose Jaw November 27, 1999.
  • It was the Tigers worst road loss since giving up 11 goals in an 11-5 setback in Prince George October 5, 2001.
  • Ian Duval scored the Rockets 7th goal but was hurt after being hit while carrying the puck inside the Tigers zone. For precautionary measures, the overage forward won’t suit up Saturday night for a road game in Kent Washington against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
  • Give rookie Curt Gogol props for electing to tangle with Tigers designated tough guy Matt McCue in a third period scrap. Gogol received the instigator penalty after McCue ran him heavily into the corner boards. McCue was the victor, yet Gogol stood in there against a player not only 5 inches taller but 40 pounds heavier.
  • The most interesting scrap of the night had Lucas Bloodoff tangling with Tigers John Stampohar in the second period. The scrap didn’t feature this usually drama of both players taking off their helmets and drawing the attention of everyone in the building before finally throwing punches at one another. This fight erupted quickly in the neutral zone after Stompohar slashed Bloodoff.
  • Congratulations to Rockets Athletic Therapist Jeff Thorborn, who’s wife gave birth to a baby girl. It’s the couples first. To mark the occasion, Thorburn was given the weekend off, which means the hardest working member of the Rockets organization behind the scenes gets a chance to spend some time with his bundle of joy.
  • Mikael Backlund’s biggest fan was in attendance Friday night at Prospera Place. Backlund’s mother took in the game. She was wearing with pride, a Rockets jersey that said Backlund on the back.
  • After the game the Rockets boarded the bus and headed to Kent. On the way we encountered a 4x4 truck in the ditch on the connector and a guy stranded outside of Merritt who ran out of gas.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Game Notes vs. Tigers

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Tigers are meeting for the second and final time this season. These two teams met way back on October 3/08 in Medicine Hat, with the Tigers earning a 4-1 win. Jamie Benn scored the lone goal for the Rockets, who were out-shot 30-28. Linden Vey had a three point night (1+2=3) for the Tigers, who were 1 for 5 on the power play. The Rockets were 0 for 5 with the extra man. The last time the Tigers were at Prospera Place was December 5/07 in a 4-3 overtime loss. Tyler Myers scored the game winner at the 3:58 mark of the extra session. The last win for the Tigers in Kelowna was January 14/06 in a 4-0 shutout victory. The Tigers scored three times in the first period in the win. Matt Keetley made 27 saves in the shutout. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Seattle to face the T-Birds tomorrow night before heading to Kamloops on Wednesday. The Rockets next home game is next Friday against the Everett Silvertips.

Last Game: The Rockets have won two straight after a 4-1 win over Prince George Wednesday night. Jamie Benn scored once and added an assist in the team’s 28th win of the season. Colin Long, Stepan Novotny and Cody Almond added singles. Mark Guggenberger made 14 saves in the win. The Rockets out-shot the Cougars 33-15. The Rockets were 2 for 5 on the power play. The Cougars were 1 for 5. The win was the Rockets second straight, with points now in four of their last five games.

Power To The People: The Rockets power play is 7 for 13 in their last three games (54%). The Rockets have scored two or more power play goals in three straight games. The last time the Rockets were held without a power play goal was in a 3-2 shootout loss in Prince George January 17th.

Shooting Out The Lights: The Rockets have averaged 38 shots on goal in their last five games. That includes a 43 shot effort January 17th in Prince George. The last time the Rockets were held from recording 30+ shots were in a 3-2 win over the Tri City Americans January 14th. The Rockets generated 24 shots in that game.

Trade Deadline Transition: The Rockets are 3-3-0-2 in eight games since trade deadline day. The Rockets have scored 27 goals in those eight games (3.4), yet have given up 28 goals (3.5) over that period.

Almond=Outstanding: Cody Almond doesn’t want the month of January to end. Almond has goals in 8 of 11 games during the month, with points in 10 of those 11 games. Almond has 10 goals in his last 10 games.

New Faces Contribute: Mikael Backlund has 2+4=6 in his first seven games. Ian Duval has 4+6=10 in his first seven games with the Rockets. Riley Grantham has 0+2=2 in his first 6 games, including two fighting majors. Goaltender Mark Guggenberger is 3-2-0-1 with the Rockets including a 4-1 win over Prince George, a 3-2 win over Tri City and a 5-2 win in Kamloops.

Rockets Ramblings: Jamie Benn has four goals in seven games since returning from the world junior hockey championships. While the Rockets sit five points up on Kamloops for 4th place in the Western Conference, the Rockets have played 4 fewer games.

Who’s Hot: Ian Duval has goals in seven of his last ten games. In the big picture Duval has 15 goals in his last 21 games. Brandon McMillan has 5+8=13 in his last 13 games. Tyson Barrie has 2+5=7 in his last nine games. Colin Long has points in 10 of his last 13 games (5+10=15). Tyler Myers has points in 5 of his last 7 seven games. Myers has 1 goal and 6 assists over that period.

By The Numbers: Since re-locating to Kelowna from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have played 985 regular season games. The Rockets have won 498 times while based in Kelowna.

Streaking @ Home: The Rockets have won seven of their last ten home games and have wins in 9 of their last 13 home dates. The only stumbles over that period were a 6-4 loss to Vancouver, a 4-3 setback to Prince George, a 5-2 loss to Moose Jaw and a 3-1 loss to Swift Current December 12th. The Rockets have scored four or more goals per game at Prospera Place – thirteen times.

St. Denis Still Sidelined: Rockets forward Kyle St. Denis is missing his 35th straight game tonight with a broken wrist. The wrist was broken October 24th against the Chilliwack Bruins. The Rockets are 19-13-0-2 with St. Denis out of the lineup.

Broadcaster Tidbits: The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals – eight times this season. The Rockets have managed to score 6 or more goals three times against the Cougars, with single game outbursts against Kamloops, Kootenay, Everett, Chilliwack and Seattle. Last season the Rockets scored 6 or more goals 12 times… The Rockets are 26-6-0-1 when they score 3 or more goals. The Rockets are 10-10-0-2 in games where they’ve allowed 3 or more goals.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bo Knows Defense!

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A video with Kelowna Rockets defenseman Collin Bowman.

Ho-Hum 4-1

  • It wasn't the Kelowna Rockets territorial play that impressed me Wednesday night, but it was the teams commitment to defense. I am not saying they were flawless, but the Rockets allowed just 15 shots on goal in a 4-1 home ice win over the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets allowed just three shots on goal in the first period, and 7 in the second frame. Not bad for a team that many people believe will struggle in their own end of the rink.
  • That said, the majority of the night was spent in the offensive zone making for a relatively quiet night for starting goaltender Mark Guggenberger.
  • The Rockets received goals from four different scorers, with Jamie Benn, Cody Almond, Stepan Novotny and Colin Long beating Cougars netminder Kevin Armstrong. Armstrong was again solid, facing 33 shots in the loss. Had Armstrong struggled, this game would have been ugly.
  • Jamie Benn ended the game with a goal and an assist, but was also physical in this one. Benn's clean hit on Cougars forward Marek Viedensky in the first period was one of the best we've seen all season.
  • Again I liked the play of Tyler Myers. Myers had two assists, but it was his defensive play really stood out. I can't say one defenseman struggled in his own zone, with Collin Bowman, Tyson Barrie and Tysen Dowzak doing a good job of limiting the Cougars to few chances. What I liked most about the defensive core was their ability to get their sticks in the way to direct shots wide or out of play in their own zone.
  • The only goal the Cougars could score against Mark Guggenberger was a 5 on 3 situation with 7 minutes left in the first period.
  • I liked the line of Spencer Main, Curt Gogol and Mitch Callahan. Those three were a pain to play against, with Callahan getting into a first period fight with Cougars defenseman Matt Cumming. Gogol was also seen trying to entice a Cougar into a fight on several occasions, but never found a dance partner.
  • Gogol's dad took in Wednesday's game. No wonder the rookie forward played to impress.
  • The Rockets were 2 for 5 on the power play Wednesday night, and are now 5 or 8 with the extra man in their last two games. That's an efficient rate of 63%.
  • A video with Rockets defenseman Kyle Verdino on who he believes will win the Super Bowl Sunday between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Game Notes vs. Cougars

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Cougars are meeting for the 8th time this season. The Rockets are 4-2-0-1 in the first 7 games, having out-scored the opposition 30-19. The Rockets are 2-1-0-0 at home, having out-scored the Cougars 13-6. In Prince George the Rockets are 2-1-0-1, having out-scored the home team 17-13. While the Rockets have won the first four games of the seasonal series, the Cougars have won the last three meetings (2-0-0-1). Following tonight’s game the two teams close out the seasonal series February 14th. Tonight’s game is the final game of six straight against teams in the BC Division. Following tonight’s game the Rockets host Medicine Hat Friday before traveling to Seattle (Kent) Saturday.

Last Game: The Rockets are coming off a 5-2 win Saturday night in Kamloops. Ian Duval (2+1=3) and Brandon McMillan (1+2=3) led the Rockets attack while Mikael Backlund and Colin Long added singles. The Rockets had a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes and carried a 4-2 lead into the third period. The Rockets were 3 for 3 on the power play. Mark Guggenberger earned the win in goal making 26 saves. The victory snapped a four game losing streak (0-2-0-2).

Trade Deadline Transition: The Rockets are 2-3-0-2 in seven games since trade deadline day. The Rockets have scored 23 goals in those seven games (3.3), yet have given up 27 goals (3.9) over that period. The Rockets have registered 40+ shots in three of their last five games.

Almond=Outstanding: Cody Almond doesn’t want the month of January to end. Almond has goals in 7 of 10 games during the month, with points in 9 of those 10 games. Almond has 9 goals in his last 9 games. Almond’s January exploits comes on the heels of a disastrous December where the 19 year-old had just one goal in 10 games during the month. Should we be surprised at Almond’s successes in January? Almond had 7 goals and 18 points in 13 games last season during the month of January.

New Faces Contribute: Mikael Backlund has 2+4=6 in his first six games. Backlund scored his first goal in the WHL last Wednesday night in a 6-4 loss to Vancouver. Ian Duval has 4+4=8 in his first six games with the Rockets. Riley Grantham has 0+2=2 in his first 6 games, including two fighting majors. Goaltender Mark Guggenberger is 2-2-0-1 with the Rockets including a 3-2 win over Tri City and a 5-2 win in Kamloops.

Rockets Ramblings: After playing 34 games this season without going into a shootout, the Rockets have been forced into the ‘circus’ in 3 of their last 8 games. Overall the Rockets are 2 and 2 in the shootout. Jamie Benn has three goals in six games since returning from the world junior hockey championships. While the Rockets sit five points up on Kamloops for 4th place in the Western Conference, the Rockets have played 4 fewer games.

Who’s Hot: Ian Duval has goals in seven of his last ten games. In the big picture Duval has 15 goals in his last 21 games. Brandon McMillan has 5+8=13 in his last 13 games. Tyson Barrie has 2+5=7 in his last nine games. Colin Long has points in 10 of his last 13 games (5+10=15).

By The Numbers: Since re-locating to Kelowna from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have played 984 regular season games. The Rockets have won 497 times while based in Kelowna.

Streaking @ Home: The Rockets have won six of their last nine home games and have wins in 8 of their last 12 home dates. The only stumbles over that period were a 6-4 loss to Vancouver, a 4-3 setback to Prince George, a 5-2 loss to Moose Jaw and a 3-1 loss to Swift Current December 12th. The Rockets have scored four or more goals per game at Prospera Place – twelve times.

St. Denis Still Sidelined: Rockets forward Kyle St. Denis is missing his 34th straight game tonight with a broken wrist. The wrist was broken October 24th against the Chilliwack Bruins. The Rockets are 18-13-0-2 with St. Denis out of the lineup.

Milestones Within Reach:
Jamie Benn – is 15 games shy of 100 for his career. (85 games currently played) – 115 career points
Cody Almond – Played in his 200th career game January 10th vs. Prince George. – 145 career points
Lucas Bloodoff – played in 175th career game January 2nd vs. Spokane – 85 career points
Brandon McMillan – Played in 165th game January 7th against Seattle – 87 career points
Colin Long – Played in 200th WHL game January 9th vs. Portland. – 191 career points
Tyson Barrie – 87 career points
Tysen Dowzak – Playing in 198th career game tonight.

Broadcaster Tidbits: The Rockets have scored 43 goals in their last thirteen games (3.3 per game). Of those 43 goals, sixteen (33%) have been scored on the power play…The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals – eight times this season. The Rockets have managed to score 6 or more goals three times against the Cougars, with single game outbursts against Kamloops, Kootenay, Everett, Chilliwack and Seattle. Last season the Rockets scored 6 or more goals 12 times… The Rockets are 25-6-0-1 when they score 3 or more goals. The Rockets are 10-10-0-2 in games where they’ve allowed 3 or more goals…Cody Almond is one goal shy of setting a new career high for goals with 23…Tyson Barrie is 1 points shy of his career high 43 points set in his rookie season…Barrie has 9 goals this season, the same number as last year…Brandon McMillan is three goals shy of the 15 he scored last season…No player on the Rockets roster will play in all 72 games this season. The last time this happened was 1999-2000 when no players reached that mark.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pic's From the Cutting Room Floor

It's time to clean out the digital camera. So before I erase the 300 odd photo's, I thought I would share some pic's that hit the cutting room floor. The penalty box got a touch full Saturday night in Kamloops.

Mikael Backlund taking the opening face-off against the Giants.

Ian Duval involved in a drill at his first practice session with his new team.

Gord McGarva takes some time to chat with Rockets rookie forward Spencer Main. Main often doesn't get the 'press' or media coverage that the Long's, Benn's and Almond's receive, but his day will come when he gets his fair share of the headlines.
Jamie Benn at K-I-A after winning gold for Canada. He looks pretty fresh for a guy that hasn't slept in 30 hours.
You knew I had too! In Calgary, the score clock that makes you drool. Ok, it makes me drool.
Dozer (Tysen Dowzak) coming out on the ice for a morning skate in Prince George. This pic was taken back in late November .

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A video of Spencer Main getting in a skate in Calgary December 13th, one day after losing to the Swift Current Broncos on home ice. This is not alot of fun...just ask the players.

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton has to be smiling these days. No, not necessarily over his teams play, but his son Curtis'. Curtis Hamilton is having a great year with the Saskatoon Blades, with 34 points in 37 games. The 17 year-old is almost a point a game player, and isn't even eligable to be drafted until next season. Hamilton has 14 goals, the same number of goals he scored as a 16 year-old in his rookie season.
  • I find it interesting that Ian Duval has earned 64 percent of his points on the road this season. That should tell you something about this guys character. Often skilled players find the tough going much easier on home ice, yet Duval has been 'steady eddie' on the road. Of Duvals 18 goals this season, 9 have been on the road. Of his 39 points, 25 have been on opposition ice.
  • Jamie Benn is almost the reverse of Duval. Benn has scored 60 percent of his points on home ice this season. Yet of Benn's 27 goals this season, fifteen have been on the road.
  • Justin Bernhardt is closing in on playing his 300th game in the WHL. The former Rocket has 289 games under his belt, and is third in league scoring with 71 points with the Prince Albert Raiders. Nice to see 'Bernie' making some noise in his final season in the WHL.
  • This number surprised me. Tyler Myers has 14 power play assists this season. Myers has 20 assists overall, meaning 70% of his helpers are on the power play. Myers has as many power play assists as Jamie Benn (14), and is slightly behind Colin Long (15), and team leader Tyson Barrie, who has 16 power play helpers.
  • The top two penalty minute leaders meet Friday night at Prospera Place as the Rockets host the Medicine Hat Tigers. Rockets forward Riley Grantham will meet horns with Tigers tough guy Matt McCue. Grantham leads McCue by 16 penalty minutes for the league lead. McCue will be back in the Tigers lineup after a two game suspension from an altercation against Lethbridge.
  • Name the only Western Conference team that the Rockets have failed to visit this season? Answer - the Spokane Chiefs. The Rockets will be in Spokane for the first time on February 8th, in regular season game #55. Let's hope no one in Spokane desperately wanted to see someone on the Rockets play this season, because they will have waited until the last 6 weeks of the regular season before they finally show up.
  • If you are wondering, the Rockets have just 24 games left in the regular season. Of those 24 games, 13 are on the road, 11 are at home. Of those 11 home games, seven are against teams in the BC Division.
  • When the Rockets meet the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night, the visitors will have already played games in Seattle (Kent) and Vancouver. The Tigers open the road trip with a 13 hour bus ride to Kent tomorrow night.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

5-2 Win Snaps Rockets Four Game Road Losing Streak

  • Mark Guggenberger played his best game in a Rockets uniform. Two huge saves in the first period allowed his team to head into the dressing room with a 3-1 lead. Those two saves were goals that were simply taken away by the veteran goaltender. Guggenberger was a difference maker in the Rockets 5-2 win over the Kamloops Blazers Saturday night, snapping a 4 game winless streak.
  • The win moved the Rockets five points up on the Blazers for 4th place in the Western Conference.
  • Ian Duval had two goals and an assist in the game, yet found himself in the coaches dog house after being at fault on the Blazers first period goal. The overage forward saw limited ice time in the first period after that defensive gaff. Duval came back more determined than ever and was named the games 2nd star.
  • Brandon McMillan was named the games first star, this time playing as a forward. McMillan's efforts gives you the feeling he is best served as a forward, yet he also can be of value as a defenseman if the Rockets need some help defensively.
  • Colin Long was a key in the Rockets success on the power play Saturday night. The Rockets were 3/3 with the extra man with Long scoring a beauty in the 3rd period on a great feed from defenseman Tyler Myers. Long received a pass at the side of the net and while falling, somehow banged the puck past a startled Blazers goaltender Justin LeClerc.
  • It was nice to see seven players involved in the scoring Saturday night. It wasn't just one line that was producing, which has been the case over the last two games.
  • The Rockets were guilty of taking some bad penalties, infractions that simply can't be taken against the top teams in the league. Tyler Myers was hit with a 10 minute misconduct in the second period for mouthing off at the officials. Against a team like Vancouver, losing one of your best defenseman for half a period would be suicide.
  • The game featured three fights, yet it wasn't an overly emotional game. All three tilts were the result of agreements by both players to drop the mitts. Wouldn't it be nice to see a fight where one player got pissed off at another and just started punching without both agreeing to square off?
  • Prior to the game the Blazers recognized the three Rockets players that won gold for Canada at the world juniors. Even the Blazer fans gave those three a standing ovation. A classy display by the Blazers and their fans.
  • Mitchell Callahan didn't play in this one after receiving a one game suspension for an accumulation of 10 minute misconducts.
  • A video of Mark Guggenberger in warm-up. His 'A' game was on display Saturday night in Kamloops.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Laz Wins 1st Game

Congrats to former Kelowna Rockets goaltender Kris Lazaruk for winning his first game in the United States Hockey League. Lazaruk made 18 saves last night in his USHL debut leading Omaha over Fargo 4-3 in a shootout.



Trade Deadline Transition Troubles Rockets

  • The trade deadline transition hasn't been an easy one for the Kelowna Rockets. Instead of overpowering the opposition with a vicious offensive attack, the Rockets find themselves on a 4 game losing streak (0-2-0-2) after a 5-4 shootout loss in Chilliwack Friday night. While the Rockets have scored 18 goals in six games since the deadline (3.0 per game), they've also allowed 25 goals against (4.2 per game).

  • Another team that has struggled since the deadline are the Swift Current Broncos. The Broncos were busier than the Rockets and are 1-5-0-0 since making a series of trades including a block-buster with the Kootenay Ice. Do the Broncos struggles make the Rockets feel better about their situation? It just shows that significant changes can result in some early stumbles, and the Rockets aren't alone.

  • Give the Rockets credit for battling back after getting off to a brutal start. They give up a shorthanded goal less than three minutes into the game before Bruins defenseman Adam Ward fires a puck from centre ice that beats Rockets goaltender Adam Brown high to the blocker side. Brown was yanked after giving up two goals on four shots and was replaced by Mark Guggenberger.

  • Who do you look too when you've dug yourself a deep hole on the road? Your captain, and Colin Long delivered. Long's late first period goal on the power play had the Rockets heading into the first intermission down by one goal, instead of facing a 2-0 deficit heading into the second period.

  • Jamie Benn got on track with two goals in the game, and was up to his usually self of finding loose rebounds and making no mistake. Benn now has 27 goals in just 33 games. It was his first multiple goal game since he recorded a hat trick against Lethbridge November 1st.

  • While Long and Benn were on their games, unfortunately it was a rough night for the line of Almond, Backlund and Duval. That trio was solid in a 6-4 loss to Vancouver Wednesday, yet against a weaker sister were a combined -9.

  • My greatest disappointment was the Rockets inability to throw a knockout punch. With a 3-2 lead, I was anticipating the Rockets to go for the jugular, yet they failed to have the killer instinct necessary to put the game away. Eventually the Bruins tied the game before taking a 4-3 lead with 6 and a half minutes left in the third period.

  • Was it a great effort? No. But the Rockets still picked up a point against a team that has raised their level of play over the last couple of weeks. Just ask the Calgary Hitmen, who had their 18 game home ice winning streak snapped by the Bruins last week. The point was earned after the Rockets used late 3rd period heroics with the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker: www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_1287.MP3&nid=863642

  • The Rockets power play struck for two goals on five chances and didn't allow a goal on five Chilliwack opportunities.

  • Ryley Grantham sat out Friday's game with a hand laceration. That injury was suffered in Wednesday's loss to the Giants. Look for Grantham to return to the lineup Wednesday, at home to the Prince George Cougars.

  • It was nice to meet Spencer Main's parents following the game. The Rockets may have lost but Main's mom and dad were all smiles after watching their son play Friday night in Chilliwack.

  • For a second straight game Calgary Flames Western scout Ron Sutter watched Mikael Backlund play. Sutter told me afterwards that Backlund needs more time to get used to his new surroundings before he becomes the player we witnessed at the world juniors.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Game Notes vs. Bruins

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Bruins are meeting for the 5th time this season. The Rockets are 4-0-0-0, having out-scored their BC Division rivals 19-2. The Rockets have shutout the Bruins in three of the four games. Following tonight’s contest the two teams meet February 18th, 22nd and March 6th to conclude the 8 game seasonal series. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a three game losing streak (0-2-0-1), with losses to Vancouver and back-to-back setbacks to Prince George. Overall the Rockets have 4 losses in their last 5 games. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Kamloops to face the Blazers tomorrow night before returning home to face Prince George Wednesday January 28th.

Last Game: Evander Kane scored three times leading the Vancouver Giants to a 6-4 win over the Rockets Wednesday night. The Rockets received goals from Cody Almond, Mikael Backlund, Ian Duval and Evan Bloodoff in the loss. The line of Almond, Duval and Backlund combined for 8 points. The Rockets carried a 3-2 lead into the third period before the Giants struck for four goals in the final frame. The Giants out-shot the Rockets 32-24. Kelowna was 1 for 4 on the power play while the Giants were 2 for 6.

Almond=Outstanding: Cody Almond doesn’t want the month of January to end. Almond has goals in 7 of 9 games during the month, with points in 8 of those 9 games. Almond has 9 goals in his last 8 games. Almond’s January exploits comes on the heels of a disasterous December where the 19 year-old had just one goal in 10 games during the month. Should we be surprised at Almond’s successes in January? Almond had 7 goals and 18 points in 13 games last season during the month of January.

New Faces Contribute: Mikael Backlund has 1+3=4 in his first four games. Backlund scored his first goal in the WHL Wednesday night in a 6-4 loss to Vancouver. Ian Duval has 2+2=4 in his first four games with the Rockets. Riley Grantham has 0+2=2 in his first 6 games, including two fighting majors. Goaltender Mark Guggenberger is 0-2-0-0 in losses to Prince George and Vancouver.

Rockets Ramblings: Jamie Benn has just one goal in five games since returning from the world junior hockey championships. Colin Long has 3 goals in his last 13 games. While the Rockets sit only two points up on Kamloops for 4th place in the Western Conference, the Rockets have played 4 fewer games. The Rockets power play has slipped to 6th in the WHL at 21.9%. Up until Wednesday night the Rockets last gave up 6 goals at home February 1st in a 9-4 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Who’s Hot: Ian Duval has goals in six of his last eight games. In the big picture Duval has 14 goals in his last 19 games. Brandon McMillan has 4+6=10 in his last 11 games. Tyson Barrie has 2+5=7 in his last seven games. Colin Long has points in 8 of his last 11 games (3+8=11).

By The Numbers: Since re-locating to Kelowna from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have played 982 regular season games. The Rockets have won 496 times while based in Kelowna.

Streaking @ Home: The Rockets have won six of their last nine home games and have wins in 8 of their last 12 home dates. The only stumbles over that period were a 6-4 loss to Vancouver, a 4-3 setback to Prince George, a 5-2 loss to Moose Jaw and a 3-1 loss to Swift Current December 12th. The Rockets have scored four or more goals per game at Prospera Place – twelve times.

St. Denis Still Sidelined: Rockets forward Kyle St. Denis is missing his 32nd straight game tonight with a broken wrist. The wrist was broken October 24th against the Chilliwack Bruins. The Rockets are 17-13-0-1 with St. Denis out of the lineup.

Broadcaster Tidbits: The Rockets have scored 34 goals in their last eleven games (3.09 per game). Of those 34 goals, just eleven have been scored on the power play…The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals – eight times this season. The Rockets have managed to score 6 or more goals three times against the Cougars, with single game outbursts against Kamloops, Kootenay, Everett, Chilliwack and Seattle. Last season the Rockets scored 6 or more goals 12 times… The Rockets are 24-6-0-0 when they score 3 or more goals. The Rockets are 10-10-0-1 in games where they’ve allowed 3 or more goals…Tyson Barrie is 1 points shy of his career high 43 points set in his rookie season…Barrie has 9 goals this season, the same number as last year…Brandon McMillan is four goals shy of the 15 he scored last season…No player on the Rockets roster will play in all 72 games this season. The last time this happened was 1999-2000 when no players reached that mark…The Rockets have just two power play goal in their last five games. The Rockets are 2 for 18 (11.1%) over that period.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January Jam..Almond's Got It

  • Nobody on the Kelowna Rockets roster has more 'Jam in January' than Cody Almond. The best player on the ice for both teams Wednesday night, Almond created great chances for his teammates, dropped the gloves to fight James Wright when the Giants forward jabbed his stick in the chest of line mate Mikael Backlund, and was dangerous with the puck or on the forecheck in an attempt to get it back. Almond's January success has the Minnesota Wild noticing. Can you say pro contract? Almond has points in 7 of the 9 games played during the month, and has 8 goals in those 9 games.

  • Almond is no stranger to offensive success in the month of January. Last season, Almond had 7 goals and 11 assists in 13 games in January of 2008.

  • You have to love Ian Duval. With just four games under his belt with the Rockets, the overage forward is tough not to notice. I especially like his work ethic and his hunger for loose pucks. The fact that he had a three point night against the Giants isn't much of a surprise considering he is always around the puck. I didn't know exactly what the Rockets were getting when they picked him up at the trade deadline, but he's been a great addition.

  • It was nice to see Mikael Backlund involved offensively Wednesday night. He didn't dominate, yet showed that he is getting more comfortable with the junior game. It was nice to see his emotion once he scored his first WHL goal. www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_1271.MP3&nid=862904

  • Look for the line of Benn, Long and Novotny to bounce back this weekend. Three quality players may have had a rough night Wednesday, but they are simply too good not to bounce back quickly. It's that depth that makes the Rockets lethal if more than just one line is showing up on the score sheet.

  • Let's also remember that the Benn, Long, Novotny line was often times matched up against Casey Pierro-Zabotel's unit. That's no easy feat for a trio that is offensively gifted.

  • Has Spencer Main caught your eye yet? The rookie forward is playing extremely well, and has really turned the corner in his development. With his recent efforts, that first WHL goal is close at hand.

  • Let me explain what I mean when I say, 'make a save'. At this level you have to make the routine saves, but against elite competition, in my opinion the goaltender is required to make a save that either takes away a goal or erases a good scoring chance. An example would have been Sexsmith's save off of Tyson Barrie in the first period of Wednesday's game. Barrie has a point blank chance on Sexsmith, and the goaltender shuts the door. Had Barrie scored, it would have been 2-0 for the home team. I am looking for a Rockets goaltender to steal a goal, not steal the game. Trust me, Guggenberger can take away a goal and has the ability to steal a game. He wants to be a difference maker, and will make an impact in a Rockets uniform.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

B-A-D Line Not Good Enough



  • The line of Mikael Backlund, Cody Almond and Ian Duval combined for 8 points, yet the Kelowna Rockets fell 6-4 Wednesday night to the Vancouver Giants. Backlund had a goal and two assists, Almond had a goal, an assist and a fight while Ian Duval had a goal and two helpers in the loss. The trio were the best line for the Rockets all night long.

  • While the B-A-D line was good, the line of Colin Long, Jamie Benn and Stepan Novotny struggled. Benn was the only one of the three to register a point, with an assist on Backlund's power play goal in the 3rd period. Long, Benn and Novotny were a combined -7. That unit needed to be a scoring threat for the Rockets to beat the Giants Wednesday night, and by their own admission I am sure they would say they struggled. They created some good things early, but faded as the game wore on.

  • Give me a save! I thought Rockets goaltender Mark Guggenberger failed to make a quality save in this one. I am not saying that all five pucks that got past him were his fault, but the 20 year-old needed to be much sharper in a game of this magnitude.

  • Two of the Giants 6 goals were scored on two separate two man advantages. Both were created after Tyler Myers and Lucas Bloodoff received penalties for firing the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. The Giants scored the first power play goal just 12 seconds after Myers was sent to the box before responding a minute and two seconds after Bloodoff took his penalty to put the Rockets down two men.

  • The Rockets had a 3-2 lead heading into the third period, only to see the Giants score four-third period goals in the win. It marked only the second time this season in 19 games that the Rockets have lost a game after leading after 40 minutes. The Rockets are now 17-2-0-0 when leading after two periods.

  • Forward Riley Grantham left the game in the 3rd period after cutting his left hand on a skate after he was hit heavily into the boards by a Giants defenseman. Grantham appeared to lose his glove when contact was made, and was cut by a Giants skate on the way down to the ice. He was sent to hospital for stitches.

  • Grantham was one of several Rockets who had glorious chances to score in this one. Grantham had two great opportunities, including what appeared to be a wide open net when he was fed a perfect pass by line mate Colin Long.

  • Tyson Barrie also had a great chance early in the game on a great feed from Jamie Benn to make it 2-0. Instead Giants goaltender Tysen Sexsmith came up with a big save. Cody Almond almost had his second of the game on a shorthanded goal after stealing the puck at the Rockets blue line and going in all alone on Sexsmith. Almond's effort on the forehand unfortunately went wide.

  • Evander Kane had three goals in the game, yet he wasn't the threat we saw in the first three games (he missed the December 29th matchup) of the seasonal series. Kane's power play goal was a result of being at the right place at the right time to bang in a rebound into a wide open net, and his second goal resulted in a nice move around a defenseman before tucking it short side on Guggenberger, who again should have made the save. Kane's third goal was an empty netter.

  • What's the sign of a good team? A low panic threshold. The Giants didn't freak out despite trailing after 40 minutes. They went out and out-scored the Rockets 4-1 in the third and out-shot the home team 15-5.

  • Are the Giants beatable? Absolutely. While the Rockets ran their losing streak to three games (0-2-0-1), they can take many positives out of this loss. A greater contribution from the second line, better goaltending and fewer trips to the penalty box for needless penalties have the Rockets able to beat the Giants on any given night.

  • Flames Western scout Ron Sutter took in last night's game and must have liked what he witnessed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Excitement!

  • Excitement. That would best describe the Kelowna Rockets emotion heading into Wednesday nights game against the Vancouver Giants. The players won't say it publicly, but my general feeling is this game will give them a good sense of how good they are since acquiring four players - prior to and at - the trade deadline.
  • Even forward Mikael Backlund knows the importance of playing well against the Giants, and my gut tells me the 19 year-old forward will be at his best Wednesday night. Backlund seems to play his best in the 'big game'.
  • I've heard chatter from hockey fans over the last couple of days questioning coach Huska's handling of this talented team. Give me a break! This new group has been together for three friggin games. If you are about to push the panic button without this team being allowed to come together, something is wrong with the mentality of the fans, not the coaching staff. Think of it this way. If you added four new people to your work place, would everything work smoothly on day one? Would their be some miscommunication and mistakes made along the way?
  • Backlund struggled on the weekend and admits he didn't bring his 'A' game to the table in losses in Prince George. But can you blame him. Backlund is likely experiencing the world junior hockey championship hangover, is playing away from home for the first time in his career, and is now playing on a smaller ice surface. Throw in the fact he is playing with a new team in a place called Kelowna, are we asking a bit much by thinking this teenager won't miss a beat as he makes the jump to major junior.
  • Go out and play. That's the message Rockets head coach Ryan Huska has for Backlund. Don't worry about making mistakes, just go out and do the things that you do best. Shoot the puck, create scoring chances and be a threat offensively. That's what the Rockets need from Backlund.
  • Look for Colin Long to be reunited with Jamie Benn Wednesday night. Likely joining those two will be Stepan Novotny, who outside of Cody Almond, has really stepped up his play.
  • Almond with Backlund and Ian Duval make up a solid second unit.
  • Early February. That's when Kyle St. Denis should be back in the lineup. The return date is likely February 3rd in Kamloops. In speaking to St. Denis today, the cast has been removed and his wrist is about 85 to 90 percent healed. St. Denis says he has been given clearance to join the team next Wednesday against Prince George, but they will sit him out an extra couple of days to make sure his wrist gets added healing time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Shootout Success

Who should the Rockets send out in a shootout? Who has had the most shootout chances and who has had the most success? Find out below as I dig deep into the numbers to find out who doesn't buckle under the pressure.

  • Cody Almond has had the most shootout chances of any Rocket. Almond has participated in the 'circus' 18 times over his career. Almond is followed closely by Colin Long, who had been involved 15 times.
  • No surprise that Almond has scored the most shootout goals, with eight. Long is a close second with 6.
  • Tyson Barrie has had the best success rate though. Barrie has scored five times on 8 chances. That's a 63% success rate.
  • Cody Almond's success rate is 44% or 8 goals in 18 chances.
  • Colin Long's success rate is 40 percent or 6 goals on 15 attempts.
  • Jamie Benn's success rate in the shootout is 33% or 2 goals in 6 chances.
  • Brandon McMillan success rate is 20 % or 1 goal in five chances.
  • The only flawless player is Stepan Novotny. Novotny is 100% on shootouts with 1 goal in just one chance

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • What do the Rockets do Wednesday to contain Giants forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel? Pierro-Zabotel is on fire, leading the league in points (70) and has points in 12 of his last 13 games. Do the Rockets have a 'true' checking line that can keep the Giants #1 line at bay, or with last change, do you throw out the top line against him and see if they can force the Giants top trio into playing a more defensive minded game?
  • How do the two teams compare? The Giants have 10 players with ten or more goals this season while the Rockets have 7 players with 10+ goals. The Giants have 15 players with 20+ points. The Rockets have just 9.
  • The biggest difference between the two teams is on defense. The Giants have generated 196 points from the defensive core this season. The Rockets have created just 96 points from the back end this season.
  • Cody Almond is one goal shy of his career high of 22 set last season. Tyson Barrie's 9 goals this season matched his total of all of last year. Jamie Benn is 8 goals off of the 33 he scored in his rookie season.
  • Who do I think is the best rookie in the WHL this season? Prince George Cougars forward Brett Connolly gets the nod. Why? When you see someone play 7 times you get a better appreciation for his abilities. I've only seen Kellan Tochkin of the Everett Silvertips once. I can see by his point totals that he is having a great year, but couldn't tell you much about what type of player he is.
  • A video taken in Prince George of Colin Long getting a favorable bounce at practice. He could have used more 'puck luck' like this in those two losses. video
  • Evan Bloodoff's one game suspension Saturday night means no Rockets player will manage the feat of playing in all 72 games this season. Last year Colin Long was the only player to dress in all 72 games. It marks the first time since the 1999-2000 season that the team won't have a player who dresses in every regular season game.
  • Eight (8) players dressed in all 72 games for the Rockets during the 2004-2005 season. Justin Keller, Tyler Mosienko, Tyler Spurgeon, Troy Bodie, Mike Card, Kyle Cumiskey, Chris Ray and Brett Palin were part of that impressive group. No wonder they won a league championship that year...the teams best players were all healthy.
  • Cody Almond's goal scoring streak of 6 games was snapped Saturday night. It tied for the longest goal scoring streak of the season 7 other players including teammates Jamie Benn and Ian Duval. Duval went on his streak in early December as a member of the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Seperated At Birth?


Twins? Current Rocket tough guy Riley Grantham and former Rockets defenseman Kevin Reinholt. When I first met Riley, I thought of Reinholt right away.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cougars Youth=Rockets Demise

  • For a second straight night a 16 year-old Prince George Cougar rookie was a difference maker against the Kelowna Rockets. Friday night rookie Greg Fraser scored twice leading the Cougars to a 5-2 win over the Rockets while Saturday night it was 16 year-old Brent Connolly's turn to lead his team to a 3-2 shootout win. Connolly opened the scoring for the Cougars in the first period and then scored the only goal in the shootout leading the 8th seeded Cougars to four important points on the weekend. Unfortunately for the Rockets the trip up north only manufactured a single digit in the standings.
  • You had to feel for Tyler Myers for taking two delay of game penalties late in the third, allowing the Cougars back in the game. Firing the puck over the glass late in the game is one thing...doing it twice had you shaking your head. Even he must have been saying to himself 'This can't be happening'.
  • You would think the Rockets would have had the advantage in the shootout considering they went with Mikael Backlund, Colin Long and Tyson Barrie. Yet all three failed to score.
  • I thought the effort was better by the Rockets in the second game of the two game set at the CN Centre. But that effort and finish will have to improve substantially as they host Vancouver Wednesday night.
  • The power play fired blanks on the weekend against the Cougars, which comes as a huge surprise considering the talent of that five man unit. Since Mikael Backlund and Ian Duval joined the team that power play has just one goal in 11 chances.
  • Returning from the world juniors is never easy. After an emotional high, the letdown is often evident in players who return to their junior teams. Could that be the case involving Mikael Backlund, Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers? Neither of those three have exhibited the same tenacity or touch around the net like they did when playing at that high profile tournament. Trust me it will return, but let's just say its been a struggle for all three players.
  • A gutsy move by the coaching staff to sit overage defenseman Tysen Dowzak Saturday night. After Friday night's 5-2 loss, the coaching staff thought it would be best to sit the big defenseman for his sluggish play. While Dowzak may be one of the oldest players on the team, that shouldn't let him off the hook for sub par play. If you don't preform, you sit in the stands and watch. Let that be an example to other veterans on this team that may believe they are untouchable, yet will feel as disappointed as Dowzak did Saturday night by watching the game from the bleachers.
  • Give the Cougars some credit for their efforts this weekend. They did not play like an 8th place team, or did they? They played with desperation, like a team fighting for their playoff lives..which they are. Give the new coaching staff some credit for turning this team around. Visually they appear to be competing harder and are structurally sound. Would you want to meet this team in the opening round? Not the way there playing.
  • What's the downside of Brett Connolly's play? If he plays like this, the Cougars will experience something the Rockets went through this season. Connolly will play just three short seasons in Prince George before a weak team selects him in the NHL draft and prematurely makes him a pro at 18. By the time hockey fans in Prince George realize what's staring them in the face, he'll be gone.
  • Connolly has 20 goals, just 8 shy of Brayden Schenn's 28 last season. Kyle Beach had 29 goals when he was 16.
  • If I was the Cougars organization, my promotional package would include the face of this guy (Connolly) on every poster, season ticket package, and schedule they print next season. You see the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Western Hockey League doing it with Brayden Schenn...why wouldn't the Cougars organization capitalize on his successes and notoriety?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Will Beats Skill


  • Former Everett Silvertips head coach Kevin Constantine coined the phrase when he was a coach of the NHL's San Jose Sharks, but Friday night in Prince George, will indeed beat skill. The Rockets received high praise in the Prince George Citizen newspaper Friday morning as they brought their high flying offense to the northern city, but the Cougars gutted out a 5-2 home ice win.
  • The Cougars were anything but flawless, but received two big goals from 16 year-old Greg Fraser. Not only did he open the scoring on a power play goal but he closed out the scoring with an empty netter.
  • Two times in the game the Rockets were able to move within a single goal, yet couldn't find the equalizer. Give the Cougars credit for finding a way to restore their two goal lead before Fraser's empty netter made it a 3 goal advantage.
  • While the Rockets fired 42 shots on the Cougars net, many were from the outside. Cougars goaltender Kevin Armstrong was good, but didn't need to be great. The biggest disappointment was the Rockets power play, which finished the night 0 for 5. The puck movement was great, but the Cougars allowed them to do that all night as long as they didn't attempt to get in-tight chances on Armstrong, which they rarely did.
  • The only problem with any team that has an abundance of skill is the tendency to make one to many passes. I thought the Rockets were guilty of this on several occasions. It was a sign of things to come when Jamie Benn was given a scoring chance in the first period but elected to pass it off to the face-off circle to Mikael Backlund instead of unloading it towards the Cougars net.
  • It was a tough night for the Benn, Backlund, Duval line. The three were a combined -5.
  • The best example of 'nothing fancy' was when Brandon McMillan used good speed to the outside and took a sharp angle shot to beat Armstrong. The goal early in the third period made the score 3-2, and gave the Rockets what I thought was the jump they needed to get back into the game.
  • A fight off the ensuing face-off after the McMillan goal between Mitchell Callahan and Cougars tough guy Tyler Halliday should have only given the Rockets further momentum. Callahan clearly won the scrap with a player involved in his 14th fighting major of the season. Callahan threw some solid rights before pulling Halliday's jersey over his head.
  • The Rockets didn't play a lacklustre game, as emotion was evident throughout the contest. Jamie Benn was seen several times trash talking with Cougar players. One fan told me after the game that Benn should concentrate on producing offensively and firing pucks at the Cougars goal rather than firing verbal shots at the Cougars bench.
  • The loss snapped the Rockets six game winning streak in Prince George. Up until last night, the Rockets last loss at CN Centre was March 3/07 in a 7-4 setback.
  • The Rockets have lost 4 of their last 5 road games. The last win was a 3-0 shutout in Edmonton December 17th.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Welcome to Prince George!

Ryley Grantham finds himself the 'protector' of a skilled group around him.
Aaron Borejko and Mitchell Callahan

Tyson Barrie is back in the lineup tonight. He is seen here at this mornings workout.
Evan Bloodoff takes a few spins around the ice at CN Centre this morning.

  • The Rockets had a 20 minute skate this morning at CN Centre to work out the kinks from a 8 hour bus ride. The drills are all about speed and puck handling. Observing the drills from the bench gives you a better appreciate of the speed in which these players preform.
  • Colin Long will play tonight after missing two games with a 'upper body injury'. Long will likely see time on a line with Cody Almond. The coaching staff appear to be leaning towards keeping the Benn, Backlund, Duval line intact. Do you blame them?
  • Tyson Barrie returns to the Rockets defensive core tonight after participating in Wednesday's Top Prospects Game.
  • You get a better appreciation for the quickness of goaltender Mark Guggenberger when you watch him in practice. For a big goaltender, his quickness down low is impressive to say the least. While he relies on his big body to make saves, he appears to give shooters holes to shoot at before quickly recovering and taken them away.
  • It was suggested this week that Mikael Backlund would be the answer to a trivia question. Who is the only player to participate in an NHL game before playing his first game in the Western Hockey League? The answer should be Mikael Backlund. Yet Chuck Kobasew also has the claim to fame of suiting up for an NHL team first before making his WHL debut. Kobasew played in a Calgary Flames exhibition game before making his mark with the Rockets in Portland in 2001.
  • After practice it was nice to see the Rockets players signing a hockey stick for an eager group of pee-wee's that are participating in a hockey tournament next door.
  • It's a surprisingly nice day in Prince George. The temperature must be hovering around the freezing mark. A stop in this neck of the woods at this time of the year would often mean friggid temperatures, but the Rockets are enjoying the mild spell up North.
  • Look for Troy Bodie to make his NHL debut tonight against Pittsburgh. The former Rocket was called up Thursday by the big club.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Backlund In Warm-Up

video

Bad Start - Great Finish

  • Are the Kelowna Rockets now good enough to win a game with just a 20 minute effort? It looked that way Wednesday night in a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Tri City Americans. The visitors scored two goals in the first ten minutes and then carried that two goal lead into the third before the Rockets rallied for the one goal win.
  • Let's be honest, the Rockets won't be able to pull that off many times this season, yet you could see that everyone became more comfortable as the game moved on. New line mates and new teammates always requires a feeling out period.
  • It marked the first time this season that the Rockets won a game after trailing after 40 minutes.
  • The Americans out-shot the Rockets 17-3 in the first period, resulting in many fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief at what they just witnessed. With Mikael Backlund, Ian Duval, and Mark Guggenberger making their Rockets debuts, how could the home team be outplayed so badly? After being dominated in the first frame, the Rockets slowly took over, out-shooting the Americans 21-11 over the final two periods.
  • Mark Guggenberger made his first start in a Rockets uniform, and frankly looked shaky on the first two goals he allowed. Yet in saying that, the pressure that all three newcomers had wearing Kelowna Rockets colours must have been immense.Guggenberger did settle down after the first period barrage, and shut the door the rest of the way.
  • Cody Almond got the ball rolling for the Rockets with a power play goal just 41 seconds into the third. Almond's shot from the end boards appeared to hit Americans goaltender Chet Pickard in the leg or pants before sliding past the goal line. Almond's second goal was clearly directed in by Almond's skate on a centering feed from Stepan Novotny. Yet the rules state that the goal should only be called off if it is a kicking motion...which it wasn't. Even Am's head coach Don Nachbaur didn't complain, as the astute head coach had no grounds for a rebuttal.
  • Almond led the Rockets with 6 shots on goal. McMillan and Lucas Bloodoff were next with three each.
  • By our count, the Rockets won 37 of the 50 faceoffs in the game.
  • Ian Duval and Mikael Backlund earned assists in their Rockets debuts. Duval picked up an assist on Cody Almond's power play goal to make the score 2-1, before Backlund registered an assist on Jamie Benn's game winner at the 11:57 mark of the third.
  • Benn's game winner was a beauty. Stationed at the side of the Americans net, Benn appeared to have no where to go with the puck but take it behind the net. Instead of choosing the obvious, Benn went backhand to forehand and tucked the puck past a startled Chet Pickard short side.
  • Benn should also be credited for getting his team going with a solid fight with Americans defenseman Brett Plouffe. The two dropped the gloves halfway through the second period, leaving Plouffe bloodied and off to the dressing room for repairs.
  • Mark Guggenberger took a gamble with his team leading 3-2 and the Americans net empty for the extra attacker. Guggenberger found the puck in front of him, and elected to shoot it the length of the ice into the open goal. His shot misses, creating a key face-off in the Rockets zone.
  • Who was the last Rockets goaltender to score a goal? Jeff Calvert did it with the Tacoma Rockets in the early 90's.
  • The game had a playoff atmosphere to it. While these two teams haven't met in the playoffs since the 2004 post season, how fun would it be to witness these two teams in a 7 game series? Home ice would be huge, considering both teams split the seasonal series with the home team winning every game.
  • The Rockets played this one without Colin Long, Kyle St Denis or Tyson Barrie. Add those three to the mix, and this team is even more dangerous. Tri City played without Kruise Reddick, a pretty good player in his own right.
  • I handed in my 'Best Of The West' ballot last night. Can I change my pick for the fastest skater? Brett Plouffe has incredible wheels for a defenseman. Wow.
  • Here is the interview I had with Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton (WHL Chairman of the Board)about the Ontario Hockey League's bold move of suspending a player for taking his helmet off to get into a fight.www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_1230.MP3&nid=858384
  • Congrats to James McEwan for making his AHL debut Wednesday night for Worcester. McEwan got into a fight with the Philadelphia Phantoms tough guy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Game Notes vs. Americans

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Americans are meeting for the 4th and final time this season. The Rockets are 1-2-0-0 against the Americans this season, having been out-scored 10-6 in the first three games. These two teams last met November 19th with the Rockets earning a 3-1 home ice win. Tonight’s game is the final game of a seven game home-stand. The Rockets are 4-2-0-0 over that period, having out-scored the opposition 21-15. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Prince George for a pair of games this weekend. The Rockets have not allowed a power play goal against in 7 of their last 10 games. The Rockets have won five of eight games following the Christmas break.

Period-By-Period Scoring Breakdown:

1 2 3 Total
Rockets 0 2 4 6
Americans 4 3 3 10

Power Play In Seasonal Series:

Rockets: 1/11 (9.0%)
Americans: 1/17 (6.0%)

Last Game:. Justin Maylan’s shorthanded goal with 2:10 left to play in regulation time lifted the Prince George Cougars to a 4-3 win over the Rockets. Cody Almond, Brandon McMillan and Mitchell Callahan scored for the Rockets in the teams 6th home ice loss of the season. Riley Grantham chipped in with two assists. The Rockets played the game with just 15 skaters. Adam Brown was tagged with the loss in goal. The Rockets were 0/3 on the power play.

Let’s Make A Deal: The Rockets acquired three players near or on the Western Hockey League trading deadline. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Ian Duval from the Moose Jaw Warriors for 17 year-old forward Jesse Paradis. The Rockets also picked up goaltender Mark Guggenberger from the Swift Current Broncos for a 5th round bantam pick. On another note, the Calgary Flames re-assigned 19 year-old Mikael Backlund to the Rockets on Sunday. Backlund was the Flames first round pick in the 2007 NHL draft, and was selected by the Rockets in the C-H-L European Draft that summer.

Rockets Add Muscle: The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Ryley Grantham and a 5th round bantam pick in the 2011 WHL draft Thursday in exchange for 18 year-old forward Dylan Hood. Grantham is a 6th round pick of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Grantham was listed by the Warriors as a 15 year-old.

Barrie – CHL Best: Kelowna Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie won’t play tonight. Barrie is attending the Top Prospects Game in Oshawa Ontario tonight. Barrie is rated 37th by NHL Central Scouting. Collin Bowman is rated 117th while Stepan Novotny is ranked 156th while Evan Bloodoff is 182nd among North American skaters

Who’s Hot: Brandon McMillan has 3+6=9 in his last 8 games. Tyson Barrie has 2+3=5 in his last four games. Colin Long has points in 7 of his last 8 games (2+8=10). Lucas Bloodoff has goals in four of his last six games. Bloodoff has 6 goals over that period. Cody Almond is riding a five game point streak with 5 goals and 4 assists over that period. Tysen Dowzak has not scored a goal in 100 straight games. His last goal was March 2, 2007 against the Prince George Cougars.

By The Numbers: Since re-locating to Kelowna from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have played 978 regular season games. The Rockets have won 495 games in Kelowna.

Brownie Points: Rookie goaltender Adam Brown is a sparkling 13 and 4 this season, having won 6 of his last 8 starts. Over those eight games Brown has allowed just 19 goals (2.14 per game), with losses to Prince George (4-3) and to Red Deer (1-0). Brown has allowed 4 goals in a game just three times while allowing two goals or less in 9 of his 14 starts this season. Brown has the fourth best goals against average in the league (2.22). What’s also impressive is Brown’s save percentage of .901.

Streaking @ Home: The Rockets have won five of their last seven home games and have wins in 7 of their last 10 home dates. The only stumbles over that period were a 4-3 loss to Prince George, a 5-2 loss to Moose Jaw and a 3-1 loss to Swift Current December 12th. The Rockets have scored four or more goals per game at Prospera Place – eleven times.

St. Denis Still Sidelined: Rockets forward Kyle St. Denis is missing his 28th straight game tonight with a broken wrist. The wrist was broken October 24th against the Chilliwack Bruins. The Rockets are 16-11-0-0 with St. Denis out of the lineup.


Milestones Within Reach:
Jamie Benn – one game shy of 80 games played (79 games currently played) – 111 career points
Cody Almond – Played in his 200th career game Saturday vs. Prince George. - 138 career points
Lucas Bloodoff – played in 175th career game January 2nd vs. Spokane – 85 career points
Brandon McMillan – Played in 165th game Wednesday against Seattle – 83 career points
Colin Long – Played in 200th WHL game last Friday vs. Portland. – 186 career points
Tyson Barrie – 84 career points
Tysen Dowzak – Playing in 193rd game tonight.

Broadcaster Tidbits: The Rockets have scored 23 goals in their last seven games. Of those 23 goals, just nine have been scored on the power play…The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals – eight times this season. The Rockets have managed to score 6 or more goals three times against the Cougars, with single game outbursts against Kamloops, Kootenay, Everett, Chilliwack and Seattle. Last season the Rockets scored 6 or more goals 12 times… The Rockets are 23-5-0-0 when they score 3 or more goals. The Rockets are 10-8-0-0 in games where they’ve allowed 3 or more goals.