Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rockets can't buy a bounce

  • Kamloops Blazers goaltender Kurtis Mucha had luck on his side Wednesday night. Kelowna Rockets goaltender Mark Guggenberger couldn't find any. Mucha saw no less than three pucks get by him, but hit the post, in the Blazers 4-1 road win. While Mucha was getting help from his 'skinny red friends', Guggenberger couldn't get a break. The Blazers scored 7 seconds into the game when an innocent rim behind the Rockets net took a funny bounce off the end boards and came squirting out to the top half of the crease for an easy tap-in by forward Dalibor Bortnak. All Guggenberger could do is watch helplessly as he was attempting to play the puck behind the net.
  • Bortnak's goal 7 seconds into the game is two seconds off the WHL record. Dean Sexsmith scored five seconds into a game back in 1987 when Seattle beat Victoria 7-6.
  • Guggenberger's misfortune continued in the third period when rookie forward Ryan Hanes took a sharp angle shot from essentially the red end line that caught the left pad of Guggenberger and went in. Hanes' goal gave the Blazers a 3-1 lead.
  • While Mucha had the goal posts to thank, the veteran goaltender made some great saves and was full marks for being named the games first star. Mucha's save off of Mitchell Callahan in the first period on a two-on-one was stellar and his left pad save off of rookie forward Jessey Astles in the third was impressive.
  • Despite giving up two odd goals the Rockets showed good effort despite having 8 regulars out of the lineup. No question they were snake bitten around the net, but the coaching staff have to be pleased with the jump the team showed in this one.
  • Blazers forward Mark Hall left the game in the first period after he was hit by teammate Tyler Shattock. Shattock was attempting to hit Rockets defenceman Tyson Barrie along the end boards when Barrie sidestepped the check and Hall somehow become the recipient of it. Hall's helmet popped off his head and had to be helped off the ice by trainer Colin Robinson.
  • I liked rookie forward Brett Bulmer playing on a line with Shane McColgan and Mitchell Callahan. The trio created some great scoring chances. Bulmer is too skilled to be playing on a line with two marginally skilled line mates.
  • Lucas Bloodoff missed his 12th straight game with a knee injury. His leadership is missed.
  • It was likely a first and few would have even noticed. Early in the first period Rockets rookie defenceman MacKenzie Johnston is on the ice with defensive partner Colton Heffley. Both players were born in the same city, Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Johnston is just 16, Heffley is just 15. Heffley made his WHL debut against the Blazers along with 15 year-old forward Tyrell Goulbourne. Both players saw limited ice time.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Great effort - bad result

Kamloops 4 Rockets 1. More later. Share your thoughts.

Bowman out over a month

A big loss on the Rockets blue line as 18 year-old Collin Bowman will be out of the lineup for between 4 and 6 weeks with an ankle injury.
The Rockets also announced that Mitchell Chapman will miss 2 to 4 weeks with a rib injury while Codey Ito's shoulder injury will have to be looked at further to decide on a time line on his return.
All three players were hurt in Sunday's 7-3 home ice loss to Vancouver.

Weber/Keith Olympic picks

Duncan Keith is headed to Vancouver for the 2010 games.
Shea Weber will play for Canada at the Winter Olympics.

Rockets game notes vs. Blazers

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets enter tonight’s contest having lost three straight games to Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Vancouver. Tonight‘s game against the Blazers is just the fourth meeting of the season between these BC Division rivals. The Rockets are 1-2-0-0 with the only win (5-0) coming September 26th in Kelowna. The Rockets have lost both games in Kamloops this season. Each team has been able to score 9 goals against one another in the seasonal series. Following tonight’s game these two teams hook up again January 8th in Kamloops. The Rockets are in a stretch of games where 7 of the next 10 are on home ice. The only road games over that period are in Chilliwack, Vancouver and Kamloops. The Rockets are in Chilliwack tomorrow night before hosting the Bruins Saturday.

Seasonal Series Breakdown vs. Blazers:
Teams: 1 2 3 OT Total
Rockets: 2 3 4 0 9
Blazers: 2 3 4 0 9

*The Rockets have out-shot the Blazers in all three games. The Rockets have averaged 43 shots on goal in three games (128 total shots) as compared to the Blazers averaging 25.3 shots per game or (76 total shots). The Rockets are 4 for 21 with the man advantage (19%). The Blazers 4 for 16 with the power play against the Rockets (25%).

Last Game Recap: Mitchell Callahan had a goal and an assist in a 7-3 loss Sunday to the Vancouver Giants. The Giants scored three times in the first period and four times in the third period in the win. Tyler Matheson and Tyson Barrie also scored in the Rockets 19th loss of the season. Adam Brown allowed 3 goals on 9 shots before being replaced by Mark Guggenberger, who allowed 4 goals on 24 shots. The Rockets were 2 for 5 on the power play while the Giants were 3 for 6 with the extra man. Overall the Rockets were out-shot 37-21.

Barrie one of the best: Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie has 135 career points, the third highest point total for defenseman in franchise history. Josh Gorges is the franchise leader with 152 career points followed by Mike Card with 147.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Tyson Barrie has points in 23 of his last 25 games. Barrie scored his first goal in 14 games Sunday against Vancouver….Rookie Max Adolph has goals in five of his last ten games…Shane McColgan has 9 goals in his last twelve games…The Rockets have given up five shorthanded goals in the last nine games. Spencer Main has points in 6 of his last 10 games…Mitchell Callahan has four fighting majors in his last five games…Mark Guggenberger has made an appearance in three of the Rockets last four games.…Brett Bulmer has 6 points (2+4=6) in his last nine games.

Game Day Tidbits: Mitchell Callahan has 3 more goals (14) than the 11 he scored in his rookie season….Spencer Main has 15 more points than all of last season. Main has 18 points this season, after recording 1+2=3 as a rookie…Curt Gogol’s assist Sunday against Vancouver gives him one more point than the five he recorded all of last season….Gogol is playing in his 98th career game tonight against the Blazers….Tyson Barrie is third in league scoring by defenceman. Barrie is 5 points back of league leader Kevin Connauton of the Vancouver Giants.…Shane McColgan is attempting to become the highest scoring 16 year-old in Kelowna Rockets history. McColgan has 38 points, 3 fewer than franchise leader Marty Flichel, who had 41 points (21+20=41) during the 1992-93 season…Curt Gogol leads the WHL in penalty minutes with 112..….Adam Brown leads the league for the most games played by a goaltender (34)….Brown has played the second most minutes of any goaltender in the WHL (1954)….The Rockets have been involved in fifteen (15) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 8-6-1-0 in those fifteen games…Kyle St. Denis leads the team with 8 power play goals….Tyson Barrie has a team high 30 assist, 10 fewer than he had all of last season…McColgan is four points back of the Giants Kevin Connauton for the WHL scoring lead by rookies……The Rockets are 18-19-1-0 after thirty-eight games this season. Last year the Rockets were 23-15-0-0 after thirty-eight games…The Rockets have scored 122 goals in thirty-eight games this season after scoring 127 times in the teams first thirty-eight games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed 121 goals against this season after surrendering 97 goals after thirty-eight games last year…Ryan Huska recorded his 100th regular season victory December 4th against Edmonton.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 - What a year it was

January 5th : Tyler Myers and Jamie Benn help Canada win gold at the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships by beating Sweden 5-1.

January 6th – The Rockets officially announce that Michael Backlund is leaving his Swedish Elite League to join the Rockets for the remainder of the season.

April: The Rockets beat both Tri City and Vancouver in six games on their way to a birth in the WHL final.

April 30th: The Rockets select forward Jason Siebert with the 17th overall pick in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft.

May 9th: The Rockets win the Western Hockey League title over the heavily favored Calgary Hitmen.

June 22nd: Jeff Finley resigns as an assistant coach with the Rockets. Finley spent two years under head coach Ryan Huska. He had the pleasure of developing NHL's Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers.

July 8th: Dan Lambert joins Rockets as an assistant coach.

October 3rd: Former Rockets defenceman Tyler Myers makes his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens. Myers is just 19 years - 245 days old when takes to the ice for the first time wearing a Sabres uniform.

November 26th: Kelowna hosts the final game of the Subway Super Series. Brandon McMillan is named the games top player, much to the delight of the home town crowd.

December 16th: Forward Brandon McMillan is named to Team Canada's roster for the World Junior Hockey Cahmpionships.. McMillan becomes the 10th Rockets player to wear Canadian colours.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Giants in giving mood handing Rockets home ice loss

  • The Vancouver Giants looked like they were rejuvenated following a long Christmas break, the Kelowna Rockets on the other hand looked like they were still on one. The Giants scored three times in the first period and then put the game away with four more in the third period in a 7-3 win.
  • The Giants scored three times on the power play on six chances and scored twice while the two teams were playing four on four.
  • Despite outplaying the Rockets the majority of the night the Giants held a slim one goal lead heading into the third period before putting the game away.
  • Adam Brown was replaced by Mark Guggenberger after giving up 3 goals in the first 14 minutes of the game. Brown seemed to be as off as his teammates in front of him. Guggenberger gave up four goals in a relief appearance, but couldn't be faulted on any of them
  • The Rockets lost three players in the game. Forward Geordie Wudrick, Collin Bowman and rookie Codey Ito went down with injuries. Wudrick suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury after a hit from Giants forward Lance Bouma early in the first period. Bowman hurt his knee after crashing into the end boards in the second period while trying to chase down Bouma, who was moving quickly on his off wing in an attempt to get a good shot away. Ito went down with a undisclosed injury.
  • The loss was the Rockets third in a row and second straight on home ice. The Rockets have now lost three of their last four games at Prospera Place. The only win over that period was a 4-2 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on December 4th.
  • The loss was the Rockets 7th on home ice this season. The team lost just 7 times on home ice all of last season.
  • Say what you want about Kevin Connaughton's -3 rating, but the 19 year-old Giants rookie defenceman is having a great year in the offensive zone. Seventeen goals on the back end is nothing to shake a stick at. Connaughton had two goals and an assist in the win while being named the games first star.
  • The Rockets 21 shots on goal matched the teams lowest shots on goal total set against the Tri City Americans back on September 20th.
  • The Rockets haven't given up 7 goals at home since a 9-4 loss to Lethbridge on February 1,08.
  • A crowd of over 62 hundred took in the game, many coming in fashionably late if thinking the game started at 6 pm, not the 5 pm scheduled start time.

Giant loss at home

More later..

Rockets game notes vs. Giants

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets enter tonight’s contest having lost back-to-back games to Prince Albert and Saskatoon prior to the Christmas break. Tonight‘s game is the 5th meeting of the season between the Rockets and Giants. The Rockets are 2-1-1-0 in the first four games with the two teams each scoring 15 goals in the seasonal series. Following tonight’s game these two teams hook up again January 3rd in Vancouver. The Rockets are opening a stretch of playing 8 of their next 11 games on home ice. The only road games over that period are in Chilliwack, Vancouver and Kamloops. The Rockets host the Blazers Wednesday before visiting the Bruins New Years Eve.

Seasonal Series Breakdown vs. Giants:
Teams: 1 2 3 OT Total
Rockets: 3 8 3 1 15
Giants: 6 4 4 1 15

*The Rockets have scored a power play goal in all four games against the Giants this season. The Rockets are 6 for 20 with the man advantage (30%). The Giants are 6 for 18 with the power play against the Rockets (33.3%). The Giants have out-shot the Rockets in three of the four games by a margin of 125-114.

Last Game Recap: Mitchell Callahan scored the lone goal in the Rockets 4-1 loss December 16th in Saskatoon. The Rockets were out-shot 31-26 in the game and were 0 for 4 on the power play. Mark Guggenberger took the loss in goal making 27 saves. The game featured a season high five fighting majors.

Barrie one of the best: Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie has 134 career points, the third highest point total for defenseman in franchise history. Josh Gorges is the franchise leader with 152 career points followed by Mike Card with 147.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Tyson Barrie has points in 22 of his last 24 games. Barrie has not scored a goal in 13 games….Rookie Max Adolph has goals in five of his last nine games…Shane McColgan has 9 goals in his last eleven games..The Rockets have given up five shorthanded goals in the last eight games. Spencer Main has points in 6 of his last 9 games…Mitchell Callahan has four fighting majors in his last four games…Mark Guggenberger has started two of the Rockets last three games…Brett Bulmer has 5 points (2+3=5) in his last eight games.

Game Day Tidbits: The Rockets have played 37 games this season. Can you name the two teams they have not played this season? Answer: Seattle and Lethbridge….Tyson Barrie is third in league scoring by defenceman. Barrie is 3 points back of league leader Travis Hamonic of the Moose Jaw Warriors…Shane McColgan is attempting to become the highest scoring 16 year-old in Kelowna Rockets history. McColgan has 36 points, 5 fewer than franchise leader Marty Flichel, who had 41 points (21+20=41) during the 1992-93 season…Curt Gogol leads the WHL in penalty minutes with 112..….Adam Brown leads the league for the most games played by a goaltender (33)….Brown has played the most minutes of any goaltender in the WHL (1941)….The Rockets have been involved in fifteen (15) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 8-6-1-0 in those fifteen games…Kyle St. Denis leads the team with 8 power play goals….Tyson Barrie has a team high 30 assist…McColgan is five points back of Portland’s Nino Neiderreitter for the WHL scoring lead by rookies, yet is tied with Red Deer’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the league lead in points by 16 year-old rookies.…The Rockets are 18-18-1-0 after thirty-seven games this season. Last year the Rockets were 21-15-0-0 after thirty-seven games…The Rockets have scored 119goals in thirty-seven games this season after scoring 127 times in the teams first thirty-seven games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed 114 goals against this season after surrendering 97 goals after thirty-seven games last year…Ryan Huska recorded his 100th regular season victory December 4th against Edmonton…Brandon Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn had a phenomenal 16 year-old rookie season in 2007-2008 recording 71 points. How does Rockets 16 year-old Shane McColgan measure up with the 07/08 WHL rookie of the year? Schenn had 38 points after 36 games in his rookie season. McColgan has 36 points after 36 games in his 16 year-old season.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Home for the Holidays

Here are the 'best of' when it comes to the Rockets recent road trip.

1)
Best player: Defenceman Tyson Barrie. Barrie didn't put up the most points during the trip but worked consistently hard throughout all six games. Barrie often times controlled play on his own and was used as a forward on occasion to provide the Rockets with some spark in the offensive zone. Barrie will become the Rockets all-time leader in points by a defenceman before this season is through and has to be regarded as one of the best rear-guards to ever wear a Rockets unform. And he's just 18. He conducts himself like a pro both on and off the ice. My advice for his teammates would be to emulate the actions of Tyson Barrie. I have a feeling Barrie was watching Tyler Myers closely last season. Look where he is.
2) Best coaches move: Head coach Ryan Huska stuck his neck out for his goaltender when he elected to go with veteran Mark Guggenberger in a game against Moose Jaw after allowing 8 goals the night prior in Brandon. Huska believed Guggenberger needed to regain his confidence, something he did in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Warriors. It made Huska look like a genius.
3) Best Goal: It came in Regina when Tyson Barrie and rookie Max Adolph broke in on a shorthanded two on one. With Barrie bringing the puck into the zone on right wing, the veteran d-man waited until the very last second before making a picture perfect pass to Adolph, who promptly snapped the puck into the wide open side of the net.
4) Best Shootout Goal: No question, it was Shane McColgan's goal against Moose Jaw. The 16 year-old forward picks up the puck at centre and quickly moves to the left side of the ice, almost making contact with the boards. McColgan than quickly moves in on the goaltender beating the Warrior 'tender' to the glove hand side.
5) Best fight: Mitchell Callahan had a couple, but none better than the beat down on Moose Jaw's Cody Smuk. Smuk took on both Callahan and Gogol in the second period to jump start his team, but Callahan was simply too much for the 20 year-old forward.
6) Best courage move: Forward Tyler Matheson fighting Blades enforcer Randy McNaught. Matheson may be a heavy weight when you tip the scales at close to 230 pounds, but he shouldn't be considered an elite fighter. He simply doesn't do it enough. To stand in there and trade punches with McNaught shows a lot of b***s.
7) Best Rink: I love Regina. The new improvements with wrap around seating towards the roof line of the building gives it a 'today' type of feel with an old school vibe. Great junior rink. Prince Albert edges out Swift Current as my second choice. Both are bright, clean arenas.
8) Best Meal: We ate a lot of team meals over the course of the trip out east but the choice by assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert to go with fajitas on an off day was brilliant. I do not want to see chicken and pasta for another two weeks.
9) Best referee: Chris Savage in Swift Current and Chris Savage in Saskatoon.
10) Best surprise: Coming off the bus in Prince Albert, entering the Art Hauser Centre and actually feeling 'heat' in the building. Traditionally PA and Moose Jaw have been the coldest stops on the circuit, but the freezer box like conditions, specificially in Prince Albert, were no where to be found.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Roady comes to an end

  • The Rockets ended a six game in 9 day road trip with a 4-1 loss in Saskatoon Wednesday night. The Blades scored three times in the second period in the win. Mitchell Callahan had the lone goal for the Rockets, who end the trip with a 3 and 3 record.
  • The game against the Blades started with a bang with two fights less than 2 minutes into the period. Curt Gogol squares off and trades punches before Tyler Matheson shows courage by taking on Blades enforcer Randy McNaught. Matheson holds his own against McNaught, who from my count now has 16 fighting majors this season. Matheson has two – both against McNaught.
  • The Rockets didn’t need to play error free hockey against the Blades, but they needed some steady performances. I thought while Mark Guggenberger wasn’t bad, he admittedly wasn’t at his best either. The 20 year-old has the ability to be a difference maker, yet didn’t play a large enough role against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
  • The line of Geordie Wudrick, Shane McColgan and Cody Chikie had an extremely quiet night. Against one of the better teams in the division, those three need to be better.
  • Rookie Colton Jobke gets involved in a third period scrap that seems to spark the Rockets. After the lopsided tilt, Mitchell Callahan scores moments later to make it a two goal game.
  • Overall the 3 and 3 record on the road is viewed as a success, but when you win three of your first four games you come away wanting more. Losing two of the last three games after starting the trip 2-0-0-0 is disappointing.
  • The best team I saw on the trip was Brandon followed by Swift Current. That said, one game against each team may not be an accurate assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of that particular team.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Road trip ends with 3 and 3 record

More later...............

McMillan wears Canadian colours

Congratulations to Brandon McMillan for making the Canadian world junior team. The final roster was announced this morning with the 19 year-old making the grade. McMillan becomes the third straight Rockets player to be named to the team.

Other Rockets to play for Team Canada:
Jamie Benn
Tyler Myers
Luke Schenn
Shea Weber
Robb Gordon
Blake Comeau
Chuck Kobasew
Josh Gorges
Brett McLean

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Art Hauser Centre Video

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Not good!

  • It was a sign that it wouldn’t be a good night for the Kelowna Rockets. When Prince Albert Raiders defensive defenceman Ryan Button scored his first goal in 36 game with 7 seconds left in the first period, it was all down hill from there. Button's goal was the game winner in the Raiders 3-0 win Tuesday night at the Art Hauser Centre. It marked the second time the Rockets have been shutout this season.
  • It was a disappointing loss primarily because of the Rockets lack of compete. Outside of a Curt Gogol hit on Button early in the game, no one was willing to jump out and lead the charge. This was a winnable game, yet the Rockets were not willing to do the little things to grab the two points that were clearly up for grabs.
  • Thank goodness Adam Brown wasn’t as flat as his team. The 18 year-old was solid making 39 saves in the loss. With the pressure now intensifying with the return of veteran goaltender Mark Guggenberger, Brown matched his counter parts effort Saturday night with a solid performance.
  • The Rockets were 0 for 5 on the power play, but a shorthanded goal given up by the visitors in the second period was the real back breaker. The Rockets have now given up six shorthanded goals this season, one more than the 5 they gave up all of last season.
  • The Rockets were looking for any way to generate offense that they used defenceman Tyson Barrie as a forward late in the game.
  • Fifteen year-old Damon Severson played his second game in a Rockets uniform. The 9th round bantam pick again didn’t look out of place. To make room for Severson the Rockets made 17 year-old Colton Jobke a healthy scratch for a second straight game.
  • The contest ended at the buzzer with Rockets 16 year-old forward Shane McColgan getting into a pushing match with Raiders captain Dustin Cameron. The two players were assessed four minute roughing minors.
  • Two former players with the Kelowna Rockets took in Tuesday’s game. Bart Rushmer and Kelly Guard were supporting their old junior team.
  • The brother of Kelowna Rockets assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert played for the CIS All-Stars against Team Canada in Tuesdays exhibition game in Regina. Craig Cuthbert helped the CIS to a 4-2 win over the world junior hopefuls. Craig Cuthbert was a 1st round pick of the Rockets in the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft.

Rockets game notes vs. Raiders

Tonight’s Preview: Welcome to the half way point of the regular season for the Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets enter tonight’s contest with wins in seven of their last ten games after a 2-1 shootout win Saturday night in Moose Jaw. The Rockets have 6 wins in their last seven road games, having out-scored the opposition 28-19. This is the one and only meeting of the season between the Rockets and Raiders. These two teams met once last season – October 15/08 in Kelowna – with the Rockets earning a 3-1 win. The Rockets last visited Prince Albert December 14/07 in a 3-2 victory. Tonight’s game is the fifth of six games in 9 nights for the Rockets on an Eastern Conference road trip. The Rockets are in Saskatoon tomorrow night.

Last Game Recap: Geordie Wudrick scored the game winner in the shootout while Mark Guggenberger earned his first win of the season in the Rockets 2-1 win in Moose Jaw Saturday night. Spencer Main scored the Rockets lone goal in regulation time, a shorthanded goal in the opening period. The Rockets were out-shot 28-17 in the game and were 0 for 4 on the power play.

Tyson Time: Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie has 133 career points, the third highest point total for defenseman in franchise history. Josh Gorges is the franchise leader with 152 career points followed by Mike Card with 147. Barrie’s 4 assist effort Wednesday against Regina pushing himself past Scott Hannan, who had 128 points.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Tyson Barrie had his league high 21 game point streak snapped Saturday against Moose Jaw....Last season Jamie Benn had a 20 game point streak with 15 goals and 10 assists over that period…Rookie Max Adolph has goals in five of his last seven games…Shane McColgan has goals in six of his last nine games (9+3=12).…The Rockets have given up four shorthanded goals in the last six games. Spencer Main has points in 6 of his last 7 games.

Game Day Tidbits: Tyson Barrie is third in league scoring by defenceman. Barrie is 4 points back of league leader Travis Hamonic of the Moose Jaw Warriors…Shane McColgan is attempting to become the highest scoring 16 year-old in Kelowna Rockets history. McColgan has 36 points, 5 fewer than franchise leader Marty Flichel, who had 41 points (21+20=41) during the 1992-93 season…Curt Gogol leads the WHL in penalty minutes with 108..….Adam Brown is tied with Drew Owsley of the Tri City Americans for the most games played by a goaltender (32)….Brown has played the most minutes of any goaltender in the WHL (1881)….The Rockets have been involved in fifteen (15) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 8-6-1-0 in those fifteen games…Kyle St. Denis leads the team with 8 power play goals….Mitchell Callahan has a team high +7 rating….Tyson Barrie has a team high 29 assist…McColgan is one point back of Portland’s Nino Neiderreitter for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…The Rockets are 18-16-1-0 after thirty-five games this season. Last year the Rockets were 20-14-0-0 after thirty-five games…The Rockets have scored 118 goals in thirty-five games this season after scoring 123 times in the teams first thirty-five games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed 107 goals against this season after surrendering 93 goals after thirty-five games last year…Ryan Huska recorded his 100th regular season victory December 4th against Edmonton…Brandon McMillan will not play tonight as he attends Team Canada’s training camp in Regina.…Kyle St Denis will not play tonight after getting hurt last Tuesday in Swift Current…Brandon Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn had a phenomenal 16 year-old rookie season in 2007-2008 recording 71 points. How does Rockets 16 year-old Shane McColgan measure up with the 07/08 WHL rookie of the year? Schenn had 34 points after 34 games in his rookie season. McColgan has 36 points after 34 games in his 16 year-old season…Fifteen year-old Damon Severson returns to the Rockets lineup tonight after making his debut last Wednesday in Regina. Severson is from Melville, but plays midget hockey in Yorkton. The defenseman was the Rockets 9th pick in this summers WHL draft.

Rockets next two games:
Dec 16 @ Saskatoon
Dec 27 vs. Vancouver
Dec 30 vs. Kamloops
Dec 31 @ Chilliwack

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rockets Video Christmas Card #4

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Rockets Video Christmas Card #3

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Rockets Video Christmas Card #2

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Rockets Video Christmas Card

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Pics from Monday's workout in Saskatoon

Here is our MVD. Most Valuable Driver. Jerry is the man that gets us from point A to point B. Is the headgear necessary? Ya!!
Geordie Wudrick, Shane McColgan and Cody Chikie look on during Monday's workout.
Goaltender Mark Guggenberger watches practice from the bench.
Congrats to Tyler Halliday for playing his 100th WHL game Saturday night in Moose Jaw.

Severson re-joins Rockets

Fifteen year-old Damon Severson rejoined the Rockets today for practice in Saskatoon. Severson is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow night against the Raiders. Severson made his debut last Wednesday against Regina.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rockets receive eye opener

  • The Kelowna Rockets spent Sunday touring the Federal Penitentiary near Prince Albert. It was an eye opener for the players on what can go wrong if you make a bad decision and get with a bad crowd. It's technical called the Saskatchewan Federal Penitentiary, which is a medium security facility with maximum security areas. It was built in 1911 on the site of a former residential school operated by the Anglican Church of Canada. In March of 1991, three inmates took two staff members and one inmate hostage for over twenty-two hours. The incident ended when members of the Emergency Response Team shot and killed two of the three hostage takers. It houses close to 750 prisons, both men and women.
  • The Rockets arrived in Saskatoon at around 2 o'clock Sunday morning after a quick trip from Moose Jaw. The team will stay here for the next four days, busing into Prince Albert for Tuesday's game and then returning to Saskatoon to face the Blades on Wednesday.
  • The weather in Saskatoon? It's been cold. Sunday's high was -27, but the wild chill was the real killer. What amazes me is the lack of snow in Saskatoon. In the downtown core it looks they have less than we have in Kelowna.
  • Two members of the Rockets are excited that we have touched down in Saskatoon. Rookies Codey Ito and Max Adolph are Saskatoon residents.

Rockets celebrate Christmas in Saskatoon

The Kelowna Rockets players/coaches and radio broadcaster celebrated Christmas Sunday night in Saskatoon at the Willows Golf and Country Club. Below are pictures of the boys. Just click on the pic's to make them larger.
Left to right: Collin Bowman, Cody Chikie, Antoine Corbin, Lucas Bloodoff, Tyson Barrie and MacKenzie Johnston.

Left to right: Codey Ito, Mitchell Chapman, Jesse Astles, Colton Jobke, Max Adolph and Brett Bulmer.
Left to right: Kyle Verdino, Geordie Wudrick, Chad Ketting, Tyler Matheson, Adam Brown and Spencer Main.
Left to right: Tyler Halliday, Shane McColgan, Evan Bloodoff, Mitchell Callahan, Mark Guggenberger and Curt Gogol. No, despite the look in his eyes Gogol is not possessed by the devil. Or is he? Opposing players may think so.

Video goodbye to Moose Jaw Civic Centre

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Pics from Moose Jaw/Regina

Warriors Director of Hockey Jeff Truitt. I spoke to Truitt in his office before Saturday night's game.
Tyler Matheson and Mitchell Chapman load the gear on the bus as we head from Regina to Moose Jaw.

The players/officials and media attending Team Canada's training camp at the Brandt Centre in Regina need to just follow the sign.
Kelowna Rockets forward Brandon McMillan is part of Team Red for Team Canada's training camp.
The Brandt Centre in Regina now has new logo's for the upcoming World Juniors.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Guggenberger good as gold in victory

  • Mark Guggenber may have looked rusty Friday in Brandon, but he was a well oiled machine one night later. After being pulled against the Wheat Kings after giving up 5 goals on 12 shots, the 20 year-old goaltender was solid making 11 saves in the first period and then made the game winning save in the shootout leading his team to a 2-1 road win over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
  • Guggenberger was left off the three star selection in the building but he was arguably the Rockets best player. Guggenberger deserves credit for the bounce back game while head coach Ryan Huska deserves credit for believing in his goaltender by again giving him a shot to redeem himself. Huska stuck his neck out for his veteran goaltender and Guggenberger rewarded the coach with a solid performance.
  • Both Shane McColgan and Geordie Wudrick impressed with tremendous moves in the shootout. McColgan’s goal came as he moved to the extreme left – almost making contact with the boards - before weaving his way back in towards the goal, beating Brandon Glover to the back hand. Wudrick technically scored the game winner by beating Glover with a nice back hand as well. Both players were cool under pressure.
  • Spencer Main is turning into a pretty fine player. You barely noticed him last season playing behind a star studded lineup, but the 17 year-old is finding his offensive flair. Main’s shorthanded goal in the first period saw him skate in from the blue line on a clear cut breakaway, beating Glover with a nifty backhand. Main has points in 6 of his last seven games.
  • Warriors forward Cody Smuck deserves credit for taking on both Mitchell Callahan and Curt Gogol in spirited second period fights. After getting the worst end of the Callahan tilt, the 20 year-old attempted to find some energy for his team by taking on Gogol. After taking the early portion of the bout, Gogol got things back with some solid shots courtesy of his left hand.
  • Saturday’s game at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre brought back memories for Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert. Lambert spoke emotionally when recalling the Swift Current Broncos first game after a bus accident in 1986 that claimed the lives of four teammates. Lambert was in the lineup when the Broncos took to the ice at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre following the crash, with Warrior fans applauding the visitors as they skated on the ice for the pre-game warm up. I am not sure there was a dry eye in the house that night. I was there. I shed a tear.
  • The game also marked the final time the Rockets will play a game at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre. The 1959 structure will be a distant memory when the Rockets return in 2011. I’ll have a video on this blog looking at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre on Sunday. A 34.5 million dollar arena is being built in the downtown core.
  • It was great to run into Warriors Director of Hockey Jeff Truitt before the game. While I spoke to him earlier this season when Truitt attended league meetings in Kelowna, it was neat to see him in his own element. I spent a few minutes chatting with his wife Shauna during the second intermission. They are a great couple who’s friendship was built during their time in Kelowna.
  • Tyson Barrie's 21 game point streak was snapped Saturday night.
  • The Rockets are now 3-1-0-0 on a 6 game road trip.

Game notes vs. Warriors

Tonight’s Preview: The Rockets enter tonight’s contest with wins in six of their last nine games after an 8-4 loss last night in Brandon. The Rockets have 5 wins in their last six road games, having out-scored the opposition 26-18. This is the one and only meeting of the season between the Rockets and Warriors. These two teams met once last season – January 3/09 – with the Warriors earning a 5-2 win. The Rockets last visited Moose Jaw on December 11/07 in a 3-2 shootout loss. Tonight’s game is the fourth of six games in 9 nights for the Rockets on an Eastern Conference road trip. The Rockets are in Prince Albert (Dec 15th) and Saskatoon (Dec 16) to close out the pre-Christmas schedule.

Last Game Recap: Shane McColgan had a goal and an assist in a losing cause as the Rockets fell 8-4 to the Brandon Wheat Kings last night at Westman Place. Spencer Main, Brett Bulmer and Max Adolph also scored for the Rockets in the team’s 16th loss of the season. Mark Guggenberger returned to the Rockets lineup giving up 5 goals on 12 shots before being replaced by Adam Brown. Brown allowed three goals on 18 shots. The Rockets were 2 for 6 on the power play while failing to give up a power play goal in three kills.

Tyson Time: Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie has 133 career points, the third highest point total for defenseman in franchise history. Josh Gorges is the franchise leader with 152 career points followed by Mike Card with 147. Barrie’s 4 assist effort Wednesday pushed him past Scott Hannan, who had 128 points.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Tyson Barrie is riding a league high 21 game point streak heading into tonight’s contest...Last season Jamie Benn had a 20 game point streak with 15 goals and 10 assists over that period…Rookie Max Adolph has goals in five of his last six games…Shane McColgan has goals in six of his last eight games (9+3=12).…The Rockets have given up four shorthanded goals in the last five games.

Game Day Tidbits: Tyson Barrie is third in league scoring by defenceman. Barrie is 4 points back of league leader Travis Hamonic…Shane McColgan is attempting to become the highest scoring 16 year-old in Kelowna Rockets history. McColgan has 36 points, 5 fewer than franchise leader Marty Flichel, who had 41 points (21+20=41) during the 1992-93 season…Curt Gogol is tied for the WHL lead with 103 penalty minutes this season. Gogol returned to the lineup last night after serving a five game suspension after a charging major against the Kootenay Ice November 28th.….Adam Brown leads the WHL in games played by a goaltender (32)….Brown has played the most minutes of any goaltender in the WHL (1881)….The Rockets have been involved in thirteen (14) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 7-6-1-0 in those fourteen games…Kyle St. Denis leads the team with 8 power play goals….Mitchell Callahan has a team high +7 rating….Curt Gogol now has 247 career WHL penalty minutes….Tyson Barrie has a team high 29 assist…McColgan is tied with Portland’s Nino Neiderreitter for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…The Rockets are 17-16-1-0 after thirty-four games this season. Last year the Rockets were 19-14-0-0 after thirty-four games…The Rockets have scored 116 goals in thirty-four games this season after scoring 119 times in the teams first thirty-four games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed 106 goals against this season after surrendering 90 goals after thirty-four games last year…Ryan Huska recorded his 100th regular season victory last Friday against Edmonton…Brandon McMillan will not play tonight as he attends Team Canada’s training camp in Regina.…Kyle St Denis will not play tonight after getting hurt Tuesday in Swift Current…Tonight’s game is the first between the two teams since the Rockets traded Dylan Hood and Jesse Paradis in two separate deals for 20 year-olds Riley Grantham and Ian Duval. Hood played 147 games with the Rockets will Paradis played 79 games in Kelowna…Brandon Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn had a phenomenal 16 year-old rookie season in 2007-2008 recording 71 points. How does Rockets 16 year-old Shane McColgan measure up with the 07/08 WHL rookie of the year? Schenn had 33 points after 33 games in his rookie season. McColgan has 36 points after 33 games in his 16 year-old season…Warriors GM Jeff Truitt is credited with helping the Rockets organization win two WHL championships and a Memorial Cup. Truitt was a head coach for a WHL title with Kelowna in 2005 and an assistant coach during a WHL title run in 2003. Truitt was an assistant coach for a Memorial Cup win in 2004.

Pics from last night

Good eats. A pre-game stop in Whitewood, Saskatchewan is never a bad option for one of the best meals in the league. It may be in the middle of no-where, but it's a regular stop for many WHL teams.
A pic taken from my vantage point in the broadcast booth in Brandon. I am essentially situated just above and behind the visitors bench.
Mark Guggenberger stretches out during the pre-game warmup.
Westman Place is getting several upgrades for the 2010 Memorial Cup. Among them, new suites or luxury boxes. Call them what you will. I call them "nice'.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winning 'Fehr' and square

  • Jay Fehr was ferocious Friday night. No, no the 5’10 forward didn’t intimidate physically but he gave the Rockets fits with his stick scoring four times in the Wheat Kings 8-4 win. Fehr scored three of his four goals in the third period, one of which came shorthanded.
  • Mark Guggenberger’s return between the pipes for the Rockets was an unsuccessful one. After missing the first 33 regular season games it showed. Realistically what did we expect? For Guggenberger to make the transition smoothly against the highest scoring team in the league would have been a great story, but realistically bumps and lumps in his return to form is part of the package. Guggenberger was pulled after giving up five goals on 12 shots.
  • Guggenberger’s shaky start was a mirror image of Wheat Kings starter Jacob DeSerres who also fought the puck early after giving up some questionable goals. Even a goal post saved his bacon on a Curt Gogol first period shot. I give Wheat Kings head coach Kelly McCrimmon credit for allowing DeSerres to work out his problems despite his team being down 3-1. Rockets head coach Ryan Huska offered Guggenberger the same luxury but had no choice but to make a change with his team still in striking distance after the Wheat Kings made it a 5-3 score.
  • I don’t know who the Rockets will start against Moose Jaw Saturday night, but I think you need to go back with Guggenberger in an effort for him to regain his confidence. It is such a big thing especially with goaltenders to feel good about their game. Having Guggenberger watching from the bench tomorrow night in my opinion wouldn’t be good. If I was in Guggenberger’s shoes I would want to get back in the saddle and right a wrong.
  • While Adam Brown gave up three – third period goals his glove hand save off of Wheat Kings forward Paul Van de Velde was impressive. With Brown down and out of position after making the first save, Van de Velde had an open net to deposit the puck. All that stood between him and the back of the net was Brown’s glove which came out of no where and deflected the puck wide of the goal.
  • Mitchell Callahan tangled twice with Brandon d-man Darren Bestland. While the first exchange between the two players resulted in little damage, Bestland had blood coming from his forehead after apparently cutting himself on the ice during the Callahan take down.
  • Tyson Barrie extended his point streak to 21 games with a power play assist on a Brett Bulmer first period goal.
  • Despite the loss, the Rockets are still 2-1-0-0 on a six game Eastern Conference road trip heading into Saturday’s game in Moose Jaw.
  • I am not sure the Wheat Kings goaltending is good enough to win a championship but who can provide an upgrade in that position and at what price? The notion that Torrie Jung of the Edmonton Oil Kings would fit the bill perfectly just doesn’t compute with me. It’s not because Jung isn’t a good goaltender, but his age doesn’t fit with the Wheat Kings current makeup. Can the Wheat Kings part with one of their 20 year-olds to make way for an overage goaltender? I would be shocked if they went in that direction. I wouldn’t part ways with Matt Calvert, Jay Fehr or Aaron Lewadniuk. I would love to see Jung salvaged out of a tough situation with the Oil Kings and traded to a contender but I just don’t see it happening.
  • The Rockets first captain in franchise history took in Fridays game. Dave McMillen captained the Tacoma Rockets in 1991 and collected 399 penalty minutes that season. McMillen is now a successful cattle rancher.

Boarding the bus for Brandon

The boys are preparing to board the bus to Brandon today.
A photo of the Brandt Centre in Regina as they paint over the existing logo's in preparation for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships. The white sheet of ice almost looks odd.
You had to know I would take a photo of this Regina landmark. It's the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things that make me go hmm...

  • How much credit does head coach Ryan Huska receive for scratching Shane McColgan last month in Prince George? Fans likely questioned the move, as did McColgan. But is it any coincidence that since the 'scratch' McColgan has 8 goals in his last 7 games and has points in 5 of those seven games. I don't think so.
  • McColgan is about to re-write the Kelowna Rockets record books. McColgan is attempting to become the highest scoring 16 year-old in franchise history. Rory McDade is the franchise leader after putting up 15+23=38 points in the 1997-98 season. McColgan is just 4 points back. Kevin Korol had 31 points as a 16 year-old in 1997-98 while Kiel McLeod had 27 points as a 16 year-old in 1998-99.
  • How can you not cheer for Cody Chikie. The Rockets have an optional skate Thursday and who is on the ice? Cody Chikie. He just loves to play and has given the coaching staff just one more reason to play him more.
  • Mark Guggenberger could be busy tomorrow night when he returns to the Rockets lineup. The 20 year-old faces a Brandon Wheat Kings team that has scored the most goals in the WHL. The Wheat Kings have scored 139 goals this season, five more than the Medicine Hat Tigers.
  • Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert will have his mom and dad in attendance when the team visits the Wheat Kings tomorrow night. Lambert's parents are driving in from St. Malo, Manitoba.
  • Rockets forward Mitchell Callahan recieved a visit this morning from Detroit Red Wings director of player personnel Jiri Fischer. The former Detroit Red Wing had to retire in 2005 after he underwent cardiac arrest in a game against the Nashville Predators.
  • I was looking though Prospect Magazine the other day and found one photo very interesting. It was a pic of Scott Glennie, Brayden Schenn and Matt Calvert posing in a similar fashion as a photo taken in the 70's when Bill Derlago, Brian Propp and Ray Allison were taunting WHL goaltenders with the Wheat Kings as one of the best lines ever in the WHL. I love the concept. I think more teams need to be more keenly aware of taking 'staged' photo's of high profile players - or in this case line combinations - that come through an organization. The Wheat Kings got it right with that pic.
  • I am cheering for a Kelowna Rockets shutout tomorrow night in Brandon. The reason ? The annual 'Teddy Bear Toss' is taking place during Friday night's game. If the Wheat Kings score, fans are asked to litter the ice with stuffed toys for those less fortunate at Christmas. I have no problems with the promotion, but if the home team is shutout the fans are forced to throw the stuffed toys on the ice at the conclussion of the game. No delays, no problem.

He's Back!

Mark Guggenberger will get the start against the Brandon Wheat Kings tomorrow night. The 20 year-old goaltender has been sidelined with a pelvis injury suffered in last years playoffs. Guggenberger lead the Rockets to a WHL championship. The veteran has not played since the championship final of the 2009 Memorial Cup.

Getting a ride with a Rider


It was an optional skate at the Brandt Centre in Regina as the Kelowna Rockets have a day off on their Eastern Conference road trip. In leaving the practice session I asked the Rockets bus driver to stop by Mosaic Stadium - the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders - so I could pick up some souvenirs. For those of you who don't know, I am a big fan of the team. As the bus headed back to the hotel I was forced into taking a cab once my shopping spree was over. Or would I? Being a cheap bugger, I thought I would asked a very large gentleman who was coming out of the Riders office if he was going by our hotel on Albert Street and if I could hitch a ride. The 6'6 320 pound giant that gladly drove me to the hotel was Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive lineman Jordan Remple. This is just another example of why I cheer for these guys! Good old Saskatchewan hospitality.

Damon Severson Interview

video

Retro night in Regina

  • The word retro in Latin terms means 'in past times', and it sure felt like hockey from the early 80's as the Kelowna Rockets and Regina Pats combined for 14 goals Wednesday night. Shane McColgan became the first Rockets player ever at 16 to score three goals in a game in a 9-5 win.
  • McColgan was named the games first star for a second straight night, scoring three times and chipping in with two assists. George Wudrick (2+2=4) and Tyson Barrie (0+4=4) also had strong games while Brandon McMillan snapped a 13 game goal scoring drought by opening and closing the scoring.
  • Barrie's point streak is now at 20 games. Jamie Benn had a 20 game point streak last season. The team record is 24 games set by Brett McLean in 1996-97.
  • Wudrick has now scored 12 career goals against the Pats. It was the 19 year-olds 250th career game.
  • The Pats had the second best power play in the league coming into the game but it was the Rockets that were deadly with the extra man. The Rockets went 6 for 8 with the man advantage and scored a shorthanded goal off the stick of rookie Max Adolph. Adolph now has 4 goals in five games.
  • Not to be outdone, Mitchell Callahan and Cody Chikie each had three point nights.
  • It was a tough night for the goaltenders, specifically the Pats duo of Damien Ketlo and Dawson Guhle. The Pats made a significant trade to acquire two forwards from Lethbridge earlier in the day but my general impression is some movement may be needed on the back end before the Pats can challenge Brandon and Saskatoon for a conference crown.
  • The first time I watched Shane McColgan play as a 15 year-old I was impressed. I had that same feeling when 15 year-old Melville resident Damon Severson made his Rockets debut Wednesday night. Severson, a 9th round pick in this summers WHL draft, was openly excited about wearing a Rockets jersey and showed unbelievable poise when handling the puck. You have to remember this 15 year-old was sharing the same ice with arguably the best 19 year-old player in western Canada - Jordan Eberle. It didn't rattle Severson though. The first time Severson handled the puck was behind the Rockets net. Seeing he had no passing option, he calm and coolly skated the puck up the ice through the neutral zone before firing the puck deep inside the Pats end. Small feat maybe, but most raw 15 year-old rookies would have gotten rid of that puck like it had the H1N1 flu virus on it. Not Severson.
  • Severson almost registered his first career point but a goal by Mitchell Callahan was disallowed on a high stick. Had the goal been allowed, Severson would have picked up an assist.
  • What I found most refreshing about Severson was his outward appearance that he was genuinely excitement about making his debut. Some players come into the organization with a confident swagger, not wanting to show anyone that they are truly doing cartwheels inside. Severson looks like he simply loves to play the game and was on cloud nine that he had the chance to show his stuff against the Pats.
  • The Rockets are now 2 and 0 on the road trip and have won 5 straight road games.
  • Mark Guggenberger dressed for the first time this season as the teams back up. The 20 year-old could see action this weekend.
  • I sure like the Brandt Centre -the home of the Pats. It's a great building. Sure it often has the smell of Agribition lingering in the air, but new seating this season that essentially goes to the roof of the building at one end is impressive. It looks like a pro building from the broadcast booth, yet seats just over 6 thousand fans. Great junior rink.

Fifteen year-old Damon Severson makes his Kelowna Rockets debut. Check back for an interview with the defenseman.

My broadcast location at the Brandt Centre. Unfortunately I learned 15 minutes before game time that I was indeed plugged into the wrong phone line. The one that says 'visitors broadcast booth' is actually the wrong one.
This is a look at the new seating at the one end of the Brandt Centre. Wrap-around seating is nothing new in that area, but it's now been extended higher.
I didn't post this photo yesterday because I forgot. This is Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert during the 1986-87 season. Lambert was sporting a 'stache' at 16. Impressive. Look at the young fella in the lower left corner. That's current Rockets director of player personnel Lorne Frey.
Mark Guggenberger in warm up before Wednesday's game against the Pats.
OK, this isn't the most comfortable situation when the teams gm and the radio broadcaster are shoved into the same room. Not like I don't preach the virtues of the home team, but it just feels awkward when the gm is listening to your every word.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rockets lose St. Denis to a concussion

Nineteen year-old Kyle St. Denis is out with a concussion after being injured in last night's game in Swift Current.
St. Denis will fly back to Kelowna where he will see team doctors.
I want to wish Kyle a speedy recovery.
He is a great player but more importantly a quality guy.

Rockets add 15 year-old to roster

The Kelowna Rockets will give a piece of its future some ice time tonight with the WHL debut of a 15-year-old pick from last year’s Western Hockey League bantam draft.
Damon Severson will play with the Rockets in Regina tonight as the team continues a six game, nine day road trip through the WHL East division. Severson was a ninth round pick in last year’s bantam draft but has quickly climbed the depth chart after an impressive training camp and a solid start to his season in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
“When we drafted him we figured he would be a pretty good player,” said Rockets assistant general manager Lorne Frey. “But when he came to camp he had really developed. He was probably our best player of his age group at camp and he’s having a really good year in Saskatchewan. He was our biggest surprise out of our draft no question.”In 26 games with the Yorkton Harvest Severson has 22 points. At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, he is considered an all around defenceman.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Game story in pictures

Shane McColgan comes out after being named the games 1st star.
Adam Brown comes on the ice after being named the 3rd star.

Stepan Novotny in Swift Current Broncos colours.
The Broncos mascot - Charlie Horse.
The Rockets take to the ice for the pre-game warmup.
The Rockets bus outside the I-Plex.