Kyle Beach Interview

https://od.lk/f/ODVfMjQ0ODY0NV8

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Few Deep Thoughts On Game 1,000

  • I never thought I would call 1,000 games in the Western Hockey League. I always thought that I'd spend a couple of years in the league before moving on to the pro level. Their goes that theory!
  • One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job over the 1,000 games is the relationships you build with the players. I love nothing more than seeing and chatting with Shea Weber, Josh Gorges and all Rockets alumni who I had the pleasure of watching - interviewing - and seeing develop before my vary eyes. These players, who are now earning more money than I can ever imagine, really haven't changed. They are young men still enjoying the game they loved as a kid.
  • I remember as a teenager listening to two gentlemen that sparked my interest in hockey play-by-play. A young Peter Loubardias was making some noise with the Regina Pats at the time, and my AM radio was able to pick up CKRM's signal solidly from my home in Swift Current. Loubardias is slightly older than I am, yet his jump to the WHL came in his early 20's. He had a flamboyant personality on the air, which was cutting edge at the time. He was fun to listen too, and still is today as the TV voice of Calgary Flames and CHL broadcasts on Sportsnet. I also remember listening to a steady Roger Millions call the games with the Saskatoon Blades. I remember Swift Current Indians announcer Carl Petarocia and Swift Current Broncos play-by-play man John Enns growing up, yet Loubardias and Millions left an impression.
  • As I've mentioned on my bio on this blog, my favorite broadcaster is former Winnipeg Jet/Phoenix Coyotes announcer Curt Keilback. I have never met the man, but his ability to make the game exciting and use his voice to bring drama to the game is ear catching. Here is a sample of his work: www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_1480.MP3&nid=884619
  • When looking back at 1,000 games, the highlights would include a Eastern Conference final with Calgary in 1998, a series that saw a few games between the Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen played at the old Calgary Corral. I remember doing my first game in that building and thinking I had been transported back in time. The place was packed. It was standing room only - 3 deep! The series saw the Broncos build up a 3-1 lead, only to lose three straight including the game seven clincher 1-0. A young Todd McLellan was guiding the Broncos at the time. Now as the head coach with the San Jose Sharks, McLellan already has a Stanley Cup ring and possibly a NHL coach of the year honor in his back pocket.
  • The WHL championships (03-05) and Memorial Cup (04) www.am1150.ca/player/player?mediapath=&type=mp3&fi=files%2Fam1150%2Fsrimedia%2FR09_1470.MP3&nid=884620 are obviously highlights, but its the quality players that I've witnessed from the broadcast booth over the years that makes me feel privileged to be a fly on the wall. Who's the most dominant player I've witnessed during my time in the broadcast booth? Without a doubt it was Sergei Varlamov. In his rookies season with Swift Current he scored 46 goals, and then upped that total to 66 a year later. Sergei could literally take over games and could virtually do it all on his own. He was an amazing junior player.
  • Staying healthy for 1,000 games isn't possible. Sickness is bound to set in. I've had numerous colds, but have been able to battle through it. Fisherman's Friends is truly my best friend. I've puked in the broadcast booth in Everett (yes, I cleaned it up), had diarrhea, which required several trips to the washroom in Spokane, and have taken in so much water during a a broadcast that I almost soiled myself. I remember after one game in Prince Albert years ago, I took in so much water and couldn't take a break during the intermission, that after signing off the air I walked to the washroom literally in the crouched position, in an effort to keep things contained. Too much information? OK, I'll move on.
  • When you call 1,000 games, the radio partner (color analyst) you are with can bring a great deal of enjoyment to the experience. Everett Hindley was my first regular color analyst in Swift Current. We called four seasons of Broncos hockey together. Now he's Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall's right hand man in Regina. A.J Jakubec spent time with me in the broadcast booth when I made my stop in Kelowna in 2000. A.J has now gone on to bigger things as the radio caller for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Roger Snow was with me in the broadcast booth for five of the best years of junior hockey you can wish to experience. We experienced three Memorial Cup, with stops in Quebec City in 03, hosting the cup in Kelowna in 04, before traveling to London Ontario in 2005. Winning games and capturing championships over that three year span made our job easy. David Michaud's time in the booth, while short, was special. We spent so much time together on the road over two short seasons. Michaud loved to be around me...OK he loved to be around the Rockets, but we had a blast both on the air and away from the rink. It's great to have a color analyst that you have a friendship with away from the arena, and my belief is that was evident on the air. This season with 'rookie' Gord McGarva at my side, I've enjoyed watching him develop into a steady analyst while seeing the enjoyment he gets from preparing and being apart of the broadcast.
  • Bob Ridley (Medicine Hat), Craig West (Tri City) Rod Pederson (Regina), Bruce Lubke (Brandon) are also in the 1,000 games called club. Ridley is almost at 3,000. I'll be 70 to reach that mark!
  • Special thanks to Doyle Potenteau at the Kelowna Daily Courier for the nice piece he did on me in Saturday's paper. http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/top_story.php?id=168174&type=Local . Potenteau and I spend a great deal of time together on the road. He's a great roommate and a solid friend.
  • Thanks also to Jim Mullin and Bill Wilms for the 'shout out' on Friday's Shaw broadcast from Red Deer. I had a chance to see the video today.
  • In any occupation where travel is required, ones family takes the blunt of the blow. With a wife and two kids now in the mix, the thrill of hitting the road for ten days isn't as appealing as it once was. My twin boys were born in February 2003, yet that playoff season saw the Rockets win a WHL title and a trip to the Memorial Cup in Quebec City. To spend 12 days at the other end of the country calling hockey games while my wife was juggling 3 month old premature babies was a tall task for her. I still feel guilty to this day, yet the women I married is a strong as they come, and her support over the years for a career I continue to enjoy 13 seasons later is a sign of how wonderful a person she truly is. I've made mistakes on the air, but I didn't screw up when I married her 15 years ago.
  • If I could be granted one wish as I call my 1,000th WHL game tonight, what would that be? My wish would to have my Mom (Lil ) listening at the other end of the radio. She was always my biggest supporter and thought I could do no wrong. Oh, I made mistakes - trust me - and still do, yet she was always an encourager and a loyal listener. Maybe, just maybe, tonight's game is being broadcast into her Walkman in heaven? Reality tells me otherwise, but why not dare to dream? I often had dreams of one day calling play-by-play hockey games on the radio, and now look where I am!

I Just Don't Get It!

  • If you can answer the question as to why the Kelowna Rockets' can lose to another non-playoff team, you deserve a medal. A 3-2 loss in Red Deer Friday night is nothing short of a mental lapse by a team that can look like a heavy weight champion against the top end teams and look like a 100 pound weakling against the bottom feeders.
  • I can't buy the fact that the Rockets were road weary or that the Rebels were bound to break out. It marked the third time in 12 days that the Rockets suffered a loss to a team that will undoubtedly miss post season play. Failure to pick up two points leaves the Rockets three points back of Spokane in the fight for third place in the Western Conference.
  • Stepan Novotny and Ian Duval each had a goal and assist in the Rockets 21st loss of the season.
  • Who was the best Rocket? Mitchell Callahan will do anything in his ability to contribute, as testament to his two fighting majors in Friday's loss. Callahan now has 17 fighting majors, one better than designated tough guy Ryley Grantham. Grantham has two fights in his last 16 games, Callahan has fights in 7 of his last 10 games.
  • Did you ever think someone would challenge Scott Parker for the Rockets team record of 25 fighting majors as a 17 year-old? Callahan is just 8 away from tying the mark with 8 games to play. Callahan is now 4th in penalty minutes in the league with 157.
  • If others played with the same type of determination as Callahan does, these hiccups against Portland, Chilliwack and Red Deer wouldn't happen.
  • What makes Friday's loss tough to swallow was the Rebels ability to score all three goals on the power play. Coming into last night's game the Rebels hadn't scored a power play goal in four games and were 0 for 19 over that stretch.
  • Rebels' Darcy Kuemper should get credit for a solid game in goal. The 18 year-old (he won't turn 19 until early March) made some solid saves including a beauty off of Cody Almond in the second period. Yet while Kuemper was solid, a good portion of the Rockets 43 shots were from the outside. I just didn't think the Rockets were hungry enough or desperate enough to get in-tight shots on the Rebels netminder.
  • You have to like Landon Ferraro. To think this guy has 31 goals as a 17 year-old is impressive, but what type of numbers would he put up with a stronger supporting cast?
  • The Rockets played this one without leading goal scorer Jamie Benn. Benn stayed back in his hotel room in Calgary. Benn is sick, yet will give it a try tonight when the Rockets close out the road trip in Calgary against the Hitmen.
  • Calgary Flames Western Scout Ron Sutter took in Friday's game. He likely wouldn't be pleased with Mikael Backlund's play. Backlund took two bad penalties and never was a threat to score. Against a team like Red Deer, the Rockets top end players - Backlund included -should be able to create quality chances in the offensive zone.
  • Despite the loss, I anticipate the Rockets playing a solid game in Calgary tonight. They would like nothing more than to hand the Hitmen their first loss in 13 games, and get in the way of them moving into the WHL record books by winning their 33rd home game of the season.
  • I expect Mikael Backlund to play his best game of the season at the Saddledome. He better because Flames GM Darryl Sutter will be watching from the press box.
  • The Rockets 4 game winning streak came to an end with Friday's loss while the Rebels 6 game losing streak is history.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Rockets Hit 1000

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Rebels are meeting for the second and final time this season. The Rockets are 0-1-0-0 after a 1-0 shutout loss December 16th. Darcy Kuemper recorded the goose-egg. Adam Brown, the games second star, made 26 saves in the loss. The Rockets enter tonight’s game having lost three straight in Red Deer, with two of those three losses being shutouts. The last Rockets win in Red Deer came December 31/05 in a 3-1 win. The Rockets enter tonight’s game playing the 5th of 6 straight on the road. The Rockets have won 4 straight on opposition ice, having out-scored the opposition 19-6. Those wins came against Vancouver (6-2), Everett (3-2), Chilliwack (4-1) and Medicine Hat (6-1). The Rockets have just one regulation loss in their last 17 games (13-1-1-2). The only setback over that period was a 4-3 loss in Portland February 16th. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Calgary Saturday night. The Rockets return home to face Spokane March 4th.

Celebrating 1000! The Kelowna Rockets celebrate a milestone tonight with their 1 thousandth regular season game. The Rockets were born as an expansion franchise as the Tacoma Rockets in 1991, but after four short seasons moved to Kelowna for the start of the 1995-96 campaign. Since re-locating to Kelowna, the Rockets have made the playoffs in 13 of the 14 seasons (that includes this season) in the Okanagan. The Rockets have won 509 times since 1995.

Last Game: Mitchell Callahan scored twice in the first period and Evan Bloodoff had a goal and two assists leading the Rockets to a 6-1 win Wednesday night in Medicine Hat. The Rockets scored five of their six goals in the first period. Spencer Main scored in the third period, his first WHL goal. Mark Guggenberger earned the win in goal making 17 saves. The Rockets were 0/3 on the power play while the Tigers were 0 for 1.

Take A Poke @ Spoke: The Rockets enter tonight’s game one point back of Spokane for third place in the Western Conference. The Chiefs have ten games remaining – five at home and five on the road. Three of the Chiefs final 10 games are against Tri City and two games are against Kelowna February 28th and March 15th – the final game of the regular season for both teams.

February Performers:
Jamie Benn: 8+6=14 Tyler Myers: 3+7=10
Mikael Backlund: 5+8=13 Ian Duval: 1+7=8
Colin Long: 7+5=12 Tyson Barrie: 2+4=6
Cody Almond: 6+5=11

Better Than Before: Tysen Dowzak has reached his career high of 13 points, set last season. Lucas Bloodoff is one point shy of the career high 37 he collected last season. Jamie Benn has 5 more points than the 65 set in his rookie season. Cody Almond has set a new career high in points (59) this season. Almond had 56 points all of last year. Tyler Myers has 19 more points than last season. His 8 goals is also a career high after scoring 6 times last season. Tyson Barrie has 6 more points than the 43 he had in his rookie season. Barrie has new career highs in goals (11) and assists (38).

Very Interesting! Tyler Myers has been named a game star in four straight games. Myers has three-first stars and a second star over that period…Jamie Benn has gone four games without a goal. Benn went five games without a goal last season in the month of October… The Rockets are gunning for their 40th win of the season tonight. It would mark just the 5th time that the Rockets have earned 40 or more wins since re-locating to Kelowna in 1995…Cody Almond and Jamie Benn have three-three goal games this season. Ian Duval leads all Rockets in games played. Duval is playing in career game #323 tonight…Mark Guggenberger has won six of his last nine starts, and has earned points in 12 of his last 14 appearances…The Rockets are 21-2-0-1 when Colin Long scores…The Rockets 24 home ice wins this season is three better than the teams 21 home ice victories one season ago…Goaltender Mark Guggenberger has started 14 of the last 18 games.…The Rockets won their 30th game of the season February 3rd in Kamloops. It marked the 14th time in franchise history that the Rockets have enjoyed a 30+ win season. The Rockets last failed to win 30 games during the 2006-2007 campaign, when the team won just 22 times…The Rockets have just 9 games left in the regular season. Five of those nine are on the road…The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in 16 of the 21 games since the trade deadline. Only Chilliwack, Tri City and Vancouver (three times) have out-shot the Rockets since the trade deadline…The Rockets are 13-4-1-3 in twenty games since the trade deadline…Mitchell Callahan has 15 fighting majors this season as a 17 year-old. Teammate Curt Gogol – also 17 – has 9.

New Faces Contribute: Mikael Backlund has 8+15=23 in his first twenty-one games. Ian Duval has 6+13=19 in his first seventeen games with the Rockets. Riley Grantham has 2+7=9 in his first 19 games, including four fighting majors. Goaltender Mark Guggenberger is 10-3-1-2 with the Rockets, with wins over Kamloops (twice), Vancouver (twice), Everett, Spokane, Medicine Hat (twice), Prince George and Tri City.

Who’s Hot: Jamie Benn has 8 goals in his last eleven games. Benn has twenty points in his last fourteen games (12+8=20), and points in eleven of his last seventeen games. Benn has 135 career points in just 99 games. Mikael Backlund had a 6 game point streak snapped Wednesday night. Backlund had 3+7=10 over that period. Colin Long has seven goals in his last eleven games. Long has points in 13 of his last 17 games with 10+10=20 over that period. Tyler Myers has points in six of his last ten games (3+5=8). Tysen Dowzak has points in four of his last seven (0+4=4). Mitchell Callahan snapped a 12 game goal scoring drought with a pair against Medicine Hat Wednesday night.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kicking Back in Calgary

Colton Gillies, former Saskatoon Blade, has a laugh prior to the Minnesota Wild practicing following the Rockets workout at the 'Dome'.
Ian Duval and coach Ryan Huska have a good one-on-one session.
Mikael Backlund loves Calgary. He better...considering he could be a part of the Flames next season.
Collin Bowman (right) and Kyle Verdino (background) take to the ice Thursday afternoon.
Mark Guggenberger - Guggs - gets a quick pic before taking to the Saddledome ice. Tyler Myers (left) and Evan Bloodoff 'share the love' after practice Thursday. The two were instrumental in the Rockets 6-1 win in Medicine Hat Wednesday night.

  • The Rockets had a spirited workout this afternoon at the Saddledome in Calgary. The team took to the ice after the Calgary Hitmen - Saturday's opponent - went through the paces. After practice, former Rocket Jason McDonald - now with the Hitmen - had a chance to chat with his former teammates.
  • The Rockets can play spoiler Saturday night. The Hitmen need one more home ice win to tie a WHL record for most wins at home in a season. The Hitmen currently have 32 wins, one off the 33 home ice victories set by the Swift Current Broncos and Kamloops Blazers.
  • Look for Ian Duval to have a solid game against the Hitmen Saturday night. Duval was the odd man out when the Hitmen got down to three overage players. Duval was given the slap in the face when he was sent to Moose Jaw.
  • Kyle St. Denis practiced with the Rockets this afternoon. St. Denis flew into Calgary instead of making the long bus trip to Medicine Hat with a head injury. St. Denis will likely sit out Friday's game but could be back in the lineup Saturday against the high flying Hitmen.
  • Rockets forward Mikael Backlund was gathering attention from the Calgary media this afternoon as the Flames #1 pick took to the ice. Photographers, radio and video journalists were all on hand to get a few words from the soft spoken Swede.
  • Following the Rockets practice, the Minnesota Wild took the ice for an afternoon workout. It was a chance for Cody Almond - a Minnesota Wild pick - to talk to a few familiar faces within the Wild organization. The Wild play the Flames tomorrow night.
  • The Wild are represented by a few players with WHL connections. Colton Gillies, Derek Boogaard and Josh Harding just to name three.
  • I spoke briefly with Gillies, who just turned 20 this month. The former Saskatoon Blades is loving the NHL life. I joked with him that now that he is no longer with the Blades the team is finally playing solid hockey. Gillies admitted that the team was getting into a groove late last season, so this years results are no surprise for the well spoken forward.

Main Makes It Happen In Medicine Hat

  • Spencer Main scored his first WHL goal Wednesday night in Medicine Hat. A little blurry-eyed the next day, Main was all smiles at the hotel this morning as he held up the puck that beat Tigers goaltender Ryan Holfeld.
  • Spencer told me his family had a chance to see the goal scored on the WHL webcast. You have to love technology as the Main's saw the goal from their computer in North Vancouver.
  • Think about this for a second. It took Main 54 games to score his first WHL goal. Last season he didn't even play in 54 regular season games. Spencer said he likely played 40 games all winter.
  • How long has it taken other Rockets to scoring their first WHL goal in their 16 year-old season? It took Collin Bowman 45 games while Tyler Myers didn't get his first until game #24. Evan Bloodoff scored his first goal in game #26 while it took Colin Long just 8 games to score his first in the league. Cody Almond took 4 games to score his first as a 16 year-old.
  • Rockets assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert has the claim to fame of scoring in his first WHL game as a 16 year-old. Not only did Cuthbert score in that game against Portland in 1998, he also got into a fight.

Foot Soldiers Deserve Credit In Road Win

  • When the Kelowna Rockets went into battle Wednesday night with the Medicine Hat Tigers, it wasn't the stealth bomber-like offense led by Jamie Benn, Colin Long and Mikael Backlund that helped the visitors earn their 39th win of the season, it was the foot soldiers that do the grunt work that enabled the Rockets to earn their 4th consecutive victory. Mitchell Callahan scored twice, Evan Bloodoff had a goal and two helpers, and Spencer Main scored his first WHL goal. Of the Rockets top 8 point getters, only Cody Almond was able to register a goal.
  • Callahan not only scored twice - snapping a 12 game goalless drought - but the feisty forward also got involved in two scraps. The most impressive was when Mark Isherwood asked Rockets 16 year-old forward Spencer Main if he wanted to fight after the two began pushing in front of the Tigers bench. Main wasn't interested, but Callahan quickly came into the scene and said 'hey - hey' and the two started trading punches.
  • My general impression is Callahan loves to scrap. He shows no fear and no hesitation to back up a teammate. When you are as good as he is at it, why not take your frustrations out on the opposition physically.
  • Look out Ryley Grantham, Callahan is making a move up the fighting standings. Callahan's two scraps Wednesday night gives him 15 on the season - one behind Grantham's 16.
  • Curt Gogol couldn't be outdone, getting into a tilt with Tigers defenseman Thomas Carr. It's Gogol's willingness to get involved that forces the coaches hands to play him.
  • In some respects I was glad Grantham never engaged with Tigers tough guy Matt McCue once the Rockets built up a 5-1 first period lead. The Tigers showed little bite in their game other than an early flurry in the second period that had the visitors back on their heels. McCue was playing a quiet game and wasn't getting his nose dirty in any way. An accumulation of misconducts may have McCue taking a more passive approach unless he is forced into action by an opponent taking liberties on a teammate.
  • It was nice to see Spencer Main get his first WHL goal. Sure it took him 54 games to finally get it, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Who's next on the list of players looking for their first WHL goal? Kyle Verdino. Verdino has gone 87 games without scoring his first WHL goal.
  • Another one of the 'foot shoulders' that impressed Wednesday night was Evan Bloodoff. Often in the shadows of Benn, Long, Almond and Backund, the youngest Bloodoff had a career matching three point game. Bloodoff also had a goal and two assists last January in a win over Prince George.
  • Despite the lopsided score, goaltender Mark Guggenberger was tested several times in this one. It was a good bounce back game for the veteran goaltender, who looked comfortable between the pipes.
  • Tyler Ennis again had a quiet game for the Tigers, but much of that was do to the solid defensive effort of Rockets d-man Tyler Myers. Myers made sure he was on the ice every time Ennis jumped over the boards. The two will likely be teammates in the near future considering both are drafted by the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Credit the Rockets defense for two long stretch passes that sent forwards in on clear cut breakaways. Collin Bowman's long pass to Cody Almond enabled the 19 year-old to score his 31st goal of the season while Myers also sent a long bomb to Jamie Benn, who failed in his breakaway attempt to earn his 40th goal of the season.
  • The ugly stat of the night was Mikael Backlund, Ian Duval and Lucas Bloodoff all being a -1 in a game that ended up 6-1.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grandpa Frey

Kelowna Rockets Director of Player Personnel Lorne Frey is a grandpa.
Congratulations to Travis Moen and his wife on the birth of their first child - a boy - Tuesday in Anaheim.
The former Rocket is married to Frey's daughter. Everyone is doing well, baby, mother and new father Travis.
Don't be surprised if Frey immediately attempts to list his grandson, but my feeling is he may have to wait until the 2024 WHL Bantam Draft.

Game Notes vs. Tigers

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Tigers are meeting for the third and final time this season. The home team has won the first two games. These two teams met January 30th with the Rockets earning a 10-1 win. In the lone appearance at the Medicine Hat Arena (Oct 3), the Rockets fell 4-1. Jamie Benn scored the lone goal – shorthanded – in the loss. It was Benn’s first goal of the season. The Rockets enter tonight’s game playing the 4th of 6 straight on the road. The Rockets have won 3 straight on opposition ice, having out-scored the opposition 13-5. Those wins came against Vancouver (6-2), Everett (3-2) and Chilliwack (4-1). The Rockets have just one regulation loss in their last 16 games (12-1-1-2). The only setback over that period was a 4-3 loss in Portland February 16th. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Red Deer Friday and Calgary Saturday night. The Rockets return home to face Spokane March 4th.

Last Game: Tyler Myers scored the game winner, shorthanded, less than two minutes into the third period leading the Rockets to a 4-1 win Sunday afternoon in Chilliwack. Lucas Bloodoff, Tyson Barrie and Riley Grantham also scored for the Rockets, who were out-shot 30-25. Kelowna was 1 for 4 with the power play while the Bruins were 1 for 8. Adam Brown earned the win in goal.

February Performers:
Jamie Benn: 8+5=13 Tyler Myers: 3+6=9
Mikael Backlund: 5+8=13 Ian Duval: 1+7=8
Colin Long: 7+5=12 Tyson Barrie: 2+4=6
Cody Almond: 5+5=10

Better Than Before: Tysen Dowzak has reached his career high of 13 points, set last season. Lucas Bloodoff is one point shy of the career high 37 he collected last season. Jamie Benn has 4 more points than the 65 set in his rookie season. Cody Almond has set a new career high in points (58) this season. Almond had 56 points all of last year. Tyler Myers has 18 more points than last season. His 8 goals is also a career high after scoring 6 times last season. Tyson Barrie has 6 more points than the 43 he had in his rookie season. Barrie has new career highs in goals (11) and assists (38).

Very Interesting! Jamie Benn has gone three games without a goal. Benn went through a similar dry spell January 16th to 21st when he failed to score in three games… Cody Almond and Jamie Benn have three-three goal games this season. Ian Duval leads all Rockets in games played. Duval is playing in career game #322 tonight…Mark Guggenberger has won five of his last eight starts, and has earned points in 11 of his last 13 appearances… The Rockets are 21-2-0-1 when Colin Long scores…The Rockets 24 home ice wins this season is three better than the teams 21 home ice victories one season ago…Goaltender Mark Guggenberger has started 13 of the last 17 games.…The Rockets won their 30th game of the season February 3rd in Kamloops. It marked the 14th time in franchise history that the Rockets have enjoyed a 30+ win season. The Rockets last failed to win 30 games during the 2006-2007 campaign, when the team won just 22 times…The Rockets have just 10 games left in the regular season. Six of those 10 are on the road. The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in 15 of the 19 games since the trade deadline. Only Tri City and Vancouver (three times) have out-shot the Rockets since the trade deadline…The Rockets are 12-4-1-3 in twenty games since the trade deadline…Mitchell Callahan has 13 fighting majors this season as a 17 year-old. Teammate Curt Gogol – also 17 – has 8…Last season the Rockets were 5-5-0-0 in their final 10 games.

New Faces Contribute: Mikael Backlund has 8+15=23 in his first twenty games. Ian Duval has 6+13=19 in his first sixteen games with the Rockets. Riley Grantham has 2+5=7 in his first 18 games, including four fighting majors. Goaltender Mark Guggenberger is 9-3-1-2 with the Rockets, with wins over Kamloops (twice), Vancouver (twice), Everett, Spokane, Medicine Hat, Prince George and Tri City.

By The Numbers: Since re-locating to Kelowna from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have played 998 regular season games. The Rockets will play their 1000th game Friday in Red Deer. The Rockets have won 508 times while based in Kelowna.

Who’s Hot: Jamie Benn has 8 goals in his last ten games. Benn has nineteen points in his last thirteen games (12+7=19), and points in ten of his last sixteen games. Benn has 134 career points in just 98 games. Mikael Backlund is riding a 6 game point streak (3+7=10). Colin Long has seven goals in his last ten games. Long has points in 13 of his last 16 games with 10+10=20 over that period. Tyler Myers has points in five of his last nine games (3+4=7). Tysen Dowzak has points in four of his last six (0+4=4). Mitchell Callahan is without a goal in 12 games.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • It won't happen, but wouldn't it be nice to see the WHL do a 'quiet' audit of how the shots on goal are calculated in all 22 buildings across the league? Often times the shot clock heavily favors the home team leaving the impression from the visitors that they are being dominated, when its really not the case. It may just be a case of those that calculate the shots on goal are unaware of what truly constitutes a shot on goal, but it needs to be looked at. And if you think Kelowna is exempt, they aren't.
  • Kyle St. Denis was not working out with the Rockets Tuesday at the Medicine Hat Arena. St. Denis won't play Wednesday against the Tigers, but could be in the lineup Friday in Red Deer or Saturday night against the Calgary Hitmen. St. Denis will miss his 4th straight game with a concussion.
  • After some game prep this afternoon I stand corrected in stating that Riley Grantham was not in the lineup when the Tigers were in Kelowna January 30th. 'Granny' was in action that night but Curt Gogol was the one that got involved in a tilt with designated Tiger tough guy Matt McCue. Come to think of it, I recall Grantham and McCue talking to each other during the pre-game warm up likely re-enforcing the fact that Grantham's left hand was cut and he wouldn't be participating in any fisticuffs.
  • I had a a nice chat Tuesday with Tigers Director of Public Relations Dave Andjelic. Andjelic is one of the 'good guys' of the WHL and does a great job keeping the Tigers the focal point during the season. Check out their website http://www.tigershockey.com/. Andjelic takes pride in keeping it current. The website appears to be on steroids. When navigating around it...man can you move quickly.
  • Can we expect a Darryl Sutter sighting at a Rockets game along this trip? You would think the Calgary Flames GM will be in attendance to watch prospect Mikael Backlund. Sutter can have a first hand look when Backlund and the Rockets are in Sutter's backyard Saturday night for a game against the Hitmen.
  • Congrats to Rockets goaltender Adam Brown for being named the CHL/ADT goaltender of the week.
  • I will admit I had mixed feeling watching Tuesday's game between Spokane and Vancouver. From a Rockets perspective you wanted to see the Chiefs to go down to defeat, yet the prospect of the Giants losing back-to-back games gave me a warm feeling inside.
  • Winter is in full force here in Medicine Hat. The wild chill made it feel like -16 Tuesday. Being a smart prairie boy, I did not leave home without my Rockets winter coat and gloves. My wife than tells me on the phone today that in Kelowna it was about +8. Am I getting soft? After eight years in Kelowna, the answer is yes.
  • 80.3 cents a litre at a Shell gas station in Medicine Hat. We are getting screwed in Kelowna.
  • Driving along Highway 1 through Medicine Hat and seeing the big green sign overhead saying 'Swift Current' gave me a good feeling. No matter where my life leads me, Swift Current is the place I was born and raised and am proud of. Who isn't when it comes to their home town?

Tuesday Skate in the 'Hat'

Assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert runs practice Tuesday morning.
Mitchell Callahan listens in.
For a moment during the Rockets workout in Medicine Hat, the lights went out. The picture was taken just as the lights were being powered back up. Adam Brown taking in some H20.
Ok, Medicine Hat also needs an upgraded score clock. We are not alone! I feel better now.

Welcome to Medicine Hat

  • After a long day of travel the Kelowna Rockets' arrived in Medicine Hat Monday night, a day in advance of Wednesday's match up against the Tigers. The two teams meet tomorrow night in the Rockets 4th game of a six game road trip. The Rockets are in Red Deer Friday before closing out the trip Saturday in Calgary.
  • Game time Wednesday is 6 pm Pacific time. We are on the air on AM-1150 at 5:30 pm with the pre-game show.
  • It will be interesting to see if Kyle St. Denis and Brandon McMillan practice with the team Today. St. Denis missed all three games on the weekend with a concussion while McMillan is day-to-day with an upper body injury.
  • Riley Grantham should feel at home. The Rockets overage forward is from nearby Hanna Alberta. Hanna is a 3 hour drive Northwest of Medicine Hat.
  • Expect Grantham to hook up against Tigers tough guy Matt McCue Wednesday night. McCue leads Grantham by 2 penalty minutes for the WHL lead. McCue has 14 fighting majors this season. When the Tigers were in Kelowna January 30th, Grantham was a scratch after cutting his hand against Vancouver.
  • The Tigers will want some revenge after losing 10-1 to the Rockets in that game late last month.
  • The Rockets have not won a game in regulation time in Medicine Hat in 7 games. The last regulation win for the Rockets in the 'Hat' was Feb 12/2003 in a 8-2 win. Ryan Cuthbert - now a Rockets assistant coach - had a goal and two assists in that game.
  • The Tigers have just one loss in their last 5 games.
  • If you missed it, here's a video of Mark Guggenberger with his new gear. video

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rock Solid Roady - In Pictures

The Rockets celebrate in Chilliwack Sunday after a 4-1 win. Three wins on the weekend mean the Rockets are now just a point back of Spokane for third place in the Western Conference.
The luxury of having a significant lead in the 3rd period....you can rest your top players.

Cody Almond gets interviewed by Sportsnet outside the Rockets dressing room in the 2nd intermission.
A face for TV and a face for radio. Sportsnet's Peter Loubardias and I pose for a quick pic prior to game time in Chilliwack. Loubardias is a favorite of mine, and if you don't know why, I'll share that with you next week prior to a game in Calgary.
Bruins play-by-play man Randy Merkley has a pre-game interview with Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.
Peter Mueller indeed lives at Comcast Arena. Check out the table hockey game in the lower bowl of the arena featuring - at center ice...#88 Peter Mueller.
The table hockey game features the Everett Silvertips against arch rival Vancouver.
Stepan Novotny getting limbered up before game time with the Tips.
Having a chat with Cody Almond prior to the Rockets 3-2 win over the Tips Saturday night. Almond scored three times Friday in a 6-2 win in Vancouver. The Rockets bus waiting outside of the Comcast Arena in Everett.

Brown Picks Up Pieces in Rockets Win

  • Adam Brown made 24 saves in a relief appearance leading the Rockets to a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Everett Silvertips Saturday night. Brown came into the game after starter Mark Guggenberger allowed two goals on just five shots. Guggenberger was yanked after just four minutes of work. It was the second time in four starts that Guggenberger was relieved of his duties after getting pulled in favor of Brown Monday in Portland.
  • Brown made two terrific saves in the first period with his team down 2-0. A left pad save kept the game close before a fantastic glove hand save enabled the visitors to find their feet after allowing 15 shots in the opening frame.
  • Why is it that Guggenberger has so much success against the top end teams yet struggles against the lesser lights? Conversely Brown seems to step up and play solid against the Red Deer's and Prince George's of this world, yet struggles against the 'big dogs'? It only makes sense to have Brown start Sunday's game against the Bruins before Guggenberger gets the call against top ranked Medicine Hat and Calgary next week.
  • Tyler Myers delivered his second straight first star performance with two goals in Saturday's win. It was Myers first career-two goal game of his career. Who was the last Rockets d-man to score two goals in one game? Tyson Barrie had two goals against the Tips in a 8-6 loss to the Tips in Everett in early October.
  • Myers snapped a 13 game goal scoring drought Saturday night. Up until last night's two goal effort Myers had just one goal in his last 23 games.
  • Myers now has 7 goals, one better than his career high of 6 set last season.
  • Myers scored his 6th and 7th goals of the season Saturday night. Strangely enough that matches his height...6'7. Thanks to color analyst Gord McGarva for that odd observation.
  • The game featured four of the five goals from defenseman.
  • The Rockets 46 shots on goal were one off the teams season high of 47 set against the Tips February 6th in a 2-1 overtime win.
  • After being held off the score sheet Friday night in Vancouver, Jamie Benn chipped in with a quiet two assists. Benn played a good portion of the game with line mate Colin Long and eventually Cody Almond. Almond was added to that line after Stepan Novotny started the game on the Rockets #1 unit.
  • Over the last two games the Rockets have failed to allow a power play goal. The Rockets are 8 for 8 in penalty kills over the last two nights.
  • The victory moved the Rockets to the .500 mark on the road. The Rockets are now 13-13-1-2. The Rockets are one of just four teams in the Western Conference with an above .500 record on the road.
  • The win moved the Rockets within four points of Spokane for third place in the Western Conference. The Chiefs lost in overtime to Tri City Saturday night.
  • Before the game it was great to meet former Tacoma Rockets play-by-play caller Adam Gordon. Gordon was the original play-by-play voice of the Rockets when the team was based in Tacoma in 1991. Gordon is now doing TV broadcasts for Tips games on a local cable channel.
  • I'll admit it was a little awkward at breakfast Saturday morning dining with referee Derek Herman. Herman spent the night at the same hotel in Everett after calling the game between the Giants and Rockets Friday night. Herman made the pit stop before refereeing a game in Tri City Saturday. No Herman did not sit at the same table, nor would he have been invited after making several soft calls in the third period.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Energy+Intensity=Victory

  • The scoreboard doesn't lie. The Kelowna Rockets went into Vancouver Friday night and earned a 6-2 win over the high powered Giants. It was only the Giants second home ice loss of the season and 6th loss overall. It was the Rockets 36th win of the season and moved them within 5 point of Spokane for third place in the Western Conference. Had the Rockets not dropped games to Portland and Chilliwack this week, the margin would have been just two points.
  • The tone of the game was set early by Rockets defenseman Tyler Myers. A solid hit on Giants forward Evander Kane sent a clear message that the visitors wouldn't be pushed around.
  • Cody Almond had a four point night with three goals and an assist. It was Almond's third hat trick of the season. Almond's best goal came on a laser-beam wrist shot that beat Giants goaltender Tysen Sexsmith high to the glove hand side.
  • Ian Duval is worth his weight in gold. The overager had four assists. It was Duval's first-four point game of his WHL career.
  • Mikael Backlund had a strong game with a goal and an assist. His goal was scored on a odd man rush with Ian Duval drawing the assist. Once Backlund scored he jumped into the glass in celebration as the Rockets took a 3-1 lead. Backlund's emotion on that goal just showed how focused and intense the visitors were for this one.
  • I applaud Tysen Dowzak for his solid play defensively. Dowzak finished the game a +3 and had a solid scrap with Giants forward Todd Kennedy. Why doesn't Dowzak step up to the plate physically more often? The only concern following the fight was Dowzak getting the instigator and receiving a 10 minute misconduct. On this night it didn't cost the Rockets, but it could have. Regardless of what could have been, Dowzak deserves a ton of credit for his efforts.
  • Tyler Myers may have ended the game -2, but he was thrown onto the ice every time the Giants top line was. Myers logged a ton of ice time and was named the games #1 star.
  • Again the Rockets penalty killing unit came up big, shutting down the Giants in 6 chances. One of the main reasons behind the Rockets success shorthanded...goaltender Mark Guggenberger.
  • Dallas Stars GM Les Jackson had a chance to watch Jamie Benn Friday night. I spoke to Jackson before the game and will share that interview with you next week. Jackson has high praise for Benn and says the WHL and the Kelowna Rockets were a good fit for him in his 19 year-old season.
  • Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie should always remember that scouts and possible NHL brass could be watching from the stands. On Friday night Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell took in the game to catch a glimpse of Barrie and Giants forward Evander Kane.
  • I still have a ringing in my ears following the game. Who was at the controls of the sound system at Pacific Coliseum Friday night? I'm all about the loud music, but it was deafening in the building. How could fans sitting beside each other communicate during a stoppage of play? Sign language?
  • You couldn't help but laugh when a on-ice promotion went wrong. A Honda vehicle was being paraded on the ice with the public address announcer exclaiming its virtues as a one of the most fuel efficient cars on the plant. What happens? The vehicle runs out of gas on the ice and has to be pushed off by five embarrassed Giants promotional staff.
  • A great crowd Friday night. Over 11 thousand provided for a great atmosphere.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Game Notes vs. Giants

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Giants are meeting for the 7th time this season. The Rockets are 1-5-0-0 against the Giants this season, having been out-scored 26-14. Following tonight’s game these two teams conclude the seasonal series March 7th in Kelowna. The Giants have out-shot the Rockets in five of the six games. The exception was November 12th in a Giants 3-1 win. The Rockets out-shot the visitors 37-24. In the seasonal series the Giants have also scored two or more power play goals in four of the six games. The Rockets are 7 for 33=21.2% with the extra man while the Giants are 11 for 40=27.5% in the 6 games. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Everett tomorrow night before closing out the weekend with a game in Chilliwack Sunday afternoon (4PM). The Rockets then board the bus Monday for a trip to Medicine Hat where they play the Tigers on Wednesday. The Rockets enter a portion of their schedule playing six games nine nights. The Rockets have points in 12 of their last 13 games (9-1-1-2).

Seasonal Series Breakdown:
Period: 1 2 3 OT Total
Rockets 5 2 6 1 14
Giants 6 5 15 0 26

* Tyson Sexsmith has started in all six games against the Rockets this season. Adam Brown has played in three of the six games while Mark Guggenberger has played twice against the Giants this season.

Last Game: Alexander Wiklund scored the game winner leading the Chilliwack Bruins to a 4-3 shootout win over the Kelowna Rockets Wednesday night. The Bruins forced overtime after coming back from a 3-0 first period deficit. The Rockets scored those three goals in a 1:06 span, before the Bruins came back to earn the two points. Cody Almond, Colin Long and Stepan Novotny scored for the Rockets, who out-shot the Bruins 40-23. The Rockets were 0/4 on the power play while the Bruins were 1 for 2. The loss snapped the Rockets six game home ice winning streak.

Road Rash: Nineteen of Jamie Benn’s 39 goals (49%) have been scored on the road. Twenty-seven of Benn’s 67 points (40%) have been registered on opposition ice. Thirty-one (31) of Colin Long’s 74 points (42%) have been scored on the road. Twenty of Tyson Barrie’s 48 points (42%) have been on opposition ice. Twenty of Cody Almond’s 54 points this season (37%) have been registered on the road.

Sophomore Jinx – Not! Jamie Benn has been held off the score-sheet just 10 times this season. Two of those games have been against Vancouver with three coming against Prince George. Benn was held off the scoreboard 14 times in his rookie season.

Mr. Consistency: Colin Long has been held off the scoreboard 11 times this season. Three of those games have been against the Giants. Long has had one-nine game point streak and two-eight game point streaks this season. Last season Long failed to hit the score sheet 15 times.

Best of the West Poll Announced: The Tri City Herald’s Best of the West Poll was released last weekend and three Rockets were recognized. Jamie Benn was rated as having the best shot, and the most accurate. Riley Grantham was rated as the toughest player in the conference. Tyler Myers was rated as the best stay-at-home defenseman.

The Fastest to 40! Rockets forward Jamie Benn is one goal shy of 40 for the season. Benn has scored 39 times in just 44 games. Justin Keller was the last Rockets player to reach 40 goals, during the 2005-2006 season. Keller would score his 40th goal in his 58th game. Keller would go on to score 51 times that season. Chuck Kobasew scored his 40th goal for the Rockets in his 54th game during the 2001-2002 season. Jesse Schultz took 53 games to score his 40th in 2002-2003. Brett McLean scored his 40th goal of the season in his 51st game in 1997-98. Jason Deleurme took 53 games to score his 40th goal in 1997-98.

Very Interesting! Jamie Benn has three-three goal games this season. Benn also registered a hat trick against Kamloops and Lethbridge…Ian Duval leads all Rockets in games played. Duval is playing in career game #319 tonight…Mark Guggenberger has won four of his last six starts, and has earned points in 10 of his last 11 appearances… The Rockets are 20-2-0-1 when Colin Long scores…The Rockets 24 home ice wins this season is three better than the teams 21 home ice victories one season ago…Goaltender Mark Guggenberger has started 11 of the last 14 games.…Tyson Barrie has set a new career high in point with 48, bettering his 43 point effort in his rookie season…The Rockets won their 30th game of the season February 3rd in Kamloops. It marked the 14th time in franchise history that the Rockets have enjoyed a 30+ win season. The Rockets last failed to win 30 games during the 2006-2007 campaign, when the team won just 22 times…The Rockets have just 13 games left in the regular season. Nine of those 13 are on the road. The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in 14 of the 17 games since the trade deadline. Only Tri City and Vancouver (twice) have out-shot the Rockets since the trade deadline…The Rockets are 9-4-1-3 in seventeen games since the trade deadline…Mitchell Callahan has 12 fighting majors this season as a 17 year-old. Teammate Curt Gogol – also 17 – has 8…Cody Almond is two points shy of his point total from last season.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Interview with Kyle St. Denis

video

Teams On Life Support Get Pulse Against Rockets

  • What has happened to the Kelowna Rockets over the last two games is mind boggling. For a 4th place team to lose back-to-back games against two opponents on life support, in an effort to make the playoffs, just doesn't add up. If you have an idea, please share it below.
  • Did the Rockets three goal outburst in the first period in a 1:06 span come to easily and too quickly? It appeared after the home team built up the lead, the intensity went away and it was the Bruins game to win. Did the Rockets believe the Bruins would lie down and play dead after taking it to them in the first period?
  • The win snapped the Bruins 10 game losing streak and snapped the Rockets 6 game home ice winning streak.
  • It marked just the third time this season that the Bruins have won a game after trailing after 40 minutes. Despite being down 3-2 heading into the third period, defenseman Brandon Manning scored the tying goal before Alexander Wiklund scored the shootout winner.
  • A shootout was needed to decide things the last time these two teams met. Again Alexander Wiklund scored the game winner in the Bruins 5-4 win.
  • The difference maker in this one was Bruins goaltender Mark Friesen. After starter Lucas Gore was pulled after surrendering 3 goals on 8 shots, Friesen took over in a relief appearance and made 32 saves the rest of the way without surrendering a goal.
  • Give the Bruins credited for finding a way to gut out two points at Prospera Place. For a team expected to be fragile mentally with 10 straight losses, the visitors showed some moxie coming back from a 3-0 first period deficit to earn a much needed two points.
  • The biggest surprise of the night was not the Bruins come-from-behind win, but the physical display of forward Randy McNaught. McNaught elected to fight Rockets tough guy Ryley Grantham, and did incredibly well. McNaught caught Grantham with a couple of solid shots that surprised many people in the building. It was Grantham's first fight in 11 games after having his left hand cut by a skate blade.
  • Kyle St. Denis was injured in the first period after receiving a hit. The Rockets did no give a status on his injury, nor should they this late in the season. St. Denis did not return. Oddly enough it was against the Bruins that St. Denis broke his wrist, missing 37 games.
  • Jamie Benn sat this one out with strep throat. The Rockets leading goal getter will fight through the ailment Friday when the team visits the Vancouver Giants.
  • The Rockets now embark on a 6 game road trip Friday in Vancouver.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • I hope the Rockets can put Monday's loss behind them, because I'll admit its still eating away at me. It just can't happen at this time of the year. If you honestly believe you can make a long run in the playoffs, a stumble against a team that has 21 fewer wins can't happen. Funny thing is the Rockets face a similar situation tonight at home against Chilliwack.
  • I had a chance to listen to the Swift Current Broncos post game show Tuesday night and was impressed at the compliments given by assistant coach Tim Kehler towards the Brandon Wheat Kings. It is rare in this day that a coach compliments the opposition after a loss, yet Kehler went as far as saying they (Broncos) would like to model themselves after the Wheat Kings from a purely work ethic standpoint. It's nice to see a coach give a bouquet to the opposition, especially after a loss. The most surprising quote by Kehler was "I just don't think it's close right now...they (Brandon) are doing many things better than we are as a group".
  • I find it interesting that the Broncos are waiting until this summer on whether to exercise the option on head coach Dean Chynoweth's contract. Does it not show a lack of faith for Chynoweth and essentially put a gun to his head to succeed in the playoffs? Does a first or second round exit mean Chynoweth is looking for employment elsewhere? Sure looks like it from 11 hundred kilometers away.Chynoweth hasn't won a championship, but under his tenure the Broncos have always been in the mix.
  • You have to applaud Kelly McCrimmon for leading the Brandon Wheat Kings to another +40 win season. It's the third straight season with 40 wins, and 'McCrimmon's Men' have 40 wins in four of the last five years. Now that's impressive at the junior level. Look for McCrimmon's team again to hit the 40 win mark next season when they host the Memorial Cup.
  • One of the changes the Portland Winter Hawks have made since new ownership took over was brighter lights. That's right. New lighting was installed at Memorial Coliseum to bring a brighter atmosphere to the dressing room. Coach Johnston wanted the dressing room to be a place the players like to come too, not a place they dread.
  • What's with all of these radio broadcasters in the WHL going on winter excursions during the season? Rod Pedersen of the Regina Pats goes on a late season trip to Mexico and Chilliwack's Randy Merkley got married during the season on a tropical island. What's next, one of the play-by-play guys going on a 2 week vacation during the playoffs? Ok, I am jealous of both of them to be honest. Hey if these guys can get away for some r-and-r during the season, good on them. Unfortunately I am unable to get away because of our radio stations back up plan. We don't have one. If I go down, no one is technically available to replace me. I am sure someone lurking in the weeds could pinch hit - if needed - but my holidays are reserved for after the season officially comes to an end.

Rockets Game Notes vs. Bruins

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets and Bruins are meeting for the 6th of 8 times this season. The Rockets are 4-0-0-1, having out-scored Chilliwack 23-7. These two teams last met January 23rd with the Bruins earning a 5-4 shootout win. These two teams close out the seasonal series with games in Chilliwack February 22nd and March 6th. The Rockets enter tonight’s game with wins in 6 of their last 7 games (6-1-0-0) and have registered points in 11 of their last 12 games (9-1-1-1). This is the Rockets final home game before playing six straight games on the road. That road trip begins Friday night with a stop in Vancouver, Saturday in Everett, and Sunday against the Bruins in Chilliwack. The team then heads out on an Alberta road trip with stops in Medicine Hat, Calgary and Red Deer. The Rockets enter tonight’s game riding a 6 game home ice winning streak. The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 29-7 in those six games. The Rockets have allowed just one goal per game in 5 of those 6 games.

Last Game: Jamie Benn scored three times in the third period in the Rockets 4-3 loss in Portland Monday afternoon. The Hawks built up a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes and then hung on for the win. The loss snapped the Rockets season high 6 game winning streak. The Rockets were 1 for 9 on the power play while the Hawks were 2 for 5 with the man advantage. The Rockets out-shot the Hawks 42-22. Mark Guggenberger gave up 4 goals on 19 shots before being replaced by Adam Brown, who didn’t allow a goal on the three shots he faced.

Best of the West Poll Announced: The Tri City Herald’s Best of the West Poll was released this weekend and three Rockets were recognized. Jamie Benn was rated as having the best shot, and the most accurate. Riley Grantham was rated as the toughest player in the conference. Tyler Myers was rated as the best stay-at-home defenseman.

The Fastest to 40! Rockets forward Jamie Benn is one goal shy of 40 for the season. Benn has scored 39 times in just 44 games. Justin Keller was the last Rockets player to reach 40 goals, during the 2005-2006 season. Keller would score his 40th goal in his 58th game. Keller would go on to score 51 times that season. Chuck Kobasew scored his 40th goal for the Rockets in his 54th game during the 2001-2002 season. Jesse Schultz took 53 games to score his 40th in 2002-2003. Brett McLean scored his 40th goal of the season in his 51st game in 1997-98. Jason Deleurme took 53 games to score his 40th goal in 1997-98.

Very Interesting! Jamie Benn has three-three goal games this season. Benn also registered a hattrick against Kamloops and Lethbridge…Mark Guggenberger has won four of his last five starts, and has earned points in 9 of his last 10 appearances… The Rockets are 20-2-0-0 when Colin Long scores…The Rockets 24 home ice wins this season is three better than the teams 21 home ice victories one season ago…Goaltender Mark Guggenberger has started 10 of the last 13 games.…Tyson Barrie has set a new career high in point with 48, bettering his 43 point effort in his rookie season…The Rockets won their 30th game of the season February 3rd in Kamloops. It marked the 14th time in franchise history that the Rockets have enjoyed a 30+ win season. The Rockets last failed to win 30 games during the 2006-2007 campaign, when the team won just 22 times…The Rockets have just 14 games left in the regular season. Nine of those 14 are on the road. The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in 14 of the 16 games since the trade deadline. Only Tri City and Vancouver (twice) have out-shot the Rockets since the trade deadline…The Rockets power play is 17 for 63 in their last ten games (27%). The Rockets are 9-4-1-2 in sixteen games since the trade deadline…Mitchell Callahan has 12 fighting majors this season as 17 year-old. Teammate Curt Gogol – also 17 – has 8…Cody Almond is three points shy of his point total from last season.