Monday, May 31, 2010

Premature press release?

The Kelowna Chiefs Junior B hockey team may have sent out a media release prematurely suggesting they will play out the Rutland Arena this upcoming hockey season.
The Chiefs had been granted approval by the Kelowna Rockets to hold a two day camp this past weekend.
But the Rockets organization hasn't given the go-ahead to allow the team to play within city limits for the start of the 2010-2011 season.
When asked if his announcement was misleading, Chiefs General Manager Fred Pittendreigh says, "not really."
Pettendreigh is sure he will get 100 percent approval by Friday.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jackson receives pro opportunity

Twenty one year-old Dallas Jackson is preparing to turn pro.
Jackson will attend the Minnesota Wilds prospects camp this fall with the hope of getting an invite to main camp with the NHL team.
Jackson played in just 19 regular season games with the Kelowna Rockets this past season after being acquired at the Western Hockey League trading deadline from the Prince George Cougars.
Jackson played in 12 playoff games with the Rockets, recording 6 assists.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Brandon McMillan signs with Ducks

It appears that Kelowna Rockets forward Brandon McMillan has signed a three year contract with the NHL's Anaheim Ducks.
While their is nothing official on the Ducks website, is showing McMillan has signed an entry level deal.
McMillan was the Ducks third round pick in the 2008 NHL draft.

(It's now official)

McMillan appeared in 55 contests in his fourth season with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2009-10, scoring 25-42=67 points with 63 penalty minutes (PIM) and a +11 rating. Ranking tied for second on the club in goals and third in points and assists, McMillan set career highs in all three categories. He scored a career-high four goals in the final contest of the regular season on Mar. 13 vs. Prince George. The 5-11, 185-pound winger led the Rockets in postseason scoring, collecting 5-10=15 points in 12 games. He scored the game-winning goal on Apr. 3 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Tri-City. In addition, McMillan appeared for Team Canada at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, scoring 4-4=8 points in six contests en route to the silver medal.A native of Richmond, British Columbia, McMillan registered 14-35=49 points in 70 contests with Kelowna in 2008-09. He finished fifth on the club in assists and sixth in points and registered a career-high five-point night (3-2=5) on Nov. 21 at Prince George. In addition, McMillan helped the Rockets to a WHL Championship in the postseason. Advancing to the Memorial Cup final, the club eventually fell to Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), four-games-to-one (4-1). Selected by Anaheim in the third round (85th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, McMillan earned 56-113=169 points in 251 career WHL games. He played in a career-high 71 regular season contests in 2007-08 (missed only one contest), scoring 15-26=41 points. His international hockey resume also includes representing the gold-medal winning Team Canada at the 2008 IIHF Under-18 World Championship in Russia, scoring 1-2=3 points in the tournament. Additionally, McMillan represented Team B.C. at the 2007 Canada Winter Games.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weber having coffee/Jung a Bird and remembering Richards

  • It's not often you take a stroll in downtown Kelowna for a coffee and run into a member of Canada's Olympic gold medal winning men's hockey team. It happen Tuesday when I crossed paths with Shea Weber, who was enjoying a latte at the local Blenz location. Weber is back home for the summer after his short and sweet playoff stint with the Nashville Predators. Despite the quick exit from the playoffs, Weber has the bragging rights of winning gold just a few months back in Vancouver.
  • To be honest, I thought Weber would be up for the Norris trophy before Duncan Keith was ever considered. Keith is not only up for the best defenseman award but could also have a nice large Stanley Cup ring on his finger if everything goes according to plan.
  • I have to pick the Hawks in the Stanley Cup final. Why? My experience with them last year after a practice prior to a game against Edmonton won me over. The Hawks dressing room was full of familar faces. It felt like a WHL all-star team. A total of 15 former WHL players are competing in the Stanley Cup final this season.
  • It was great to catch up with Kyle Beach earlier today. The Kelowna resident has spent over a month in a Chicago hotel room as he follows the Hawks on their long playoff ride.
    The 20 year-old is a first round pick of the Hawks and is practicing with the team during the playoffs. Beach could be used in an emergency capacity if someone gets hurt.
    "We are around the team but we don't skate with them. Just being in the locker room with them after wins and seeing how happy they were when they won the trophy is pretty exciting."
    Beach would love nothing more than to play with the Hawks full time next season.
    It's exciting to watch and it shows that their is a spot on the team and in the NHL for young players.
    To play alongside players that are old enough to be my dad and then young enough to be my buddies from's a pretty neat experience."
    Beach says winning the Stanley Cup title would be huge for the city of Chicago considering the Hawks haven't won a title since 1961.
  • Duncan Keith will renew acquaintances in the Stanley Cup final with Flyers captain Mike Richards. Keith and Richards collided in the 2003 Memorial Cup in Quebec City, when Keith was with the Kelowna Rockets and Richards was a member of the Ontario Hockey League champion Kitchener Rangers. At the time Keith was a 19 year-old d-man while Richards was just 17.
  • The year the Rockets met the Rangers in the 2003 Memorial Cup, Richards had 37 goals and led his team in scoring with 87 points. 37 goals. Not bad for a second year player. The Flyers had no choice but to grab him with their 1st round pick in that summers NHL draft.
  • Josh Gorges didn't take long to arrive in the Okanagan. Just two days after the Canadiens are eliminated by Philly, Gorges has already touched down in Kelowna for the off-season.
  • Congrats to Torrie Jung for joining the UBC Thunderbirds men's hockey team this fall. The Thunderbirds made it official on Wednesday.
  • In case you are wondering, it's been 45 days since the Rockets season came to an end.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Things that make me go hmm....

  • Can I be honest? I haven't watched one game of the Memorial Cup. Sure, I've checked the scores at the end of the night, but I've strictly used my TV time in the evenings to watch the NHL playoffs. That said, I am sure Peter Loubardias and Sam Cosentino are doing a terrific job on Sportsnet bringing the games to the fans of the Hitmen, Wheat Kings, Spitfires and Wildcats. Don't get me wrong, I care about the results, I just can't commit three hours a night in front of the television watching junior hockey in May. I should get a pass considering I've had the privilege of watching the tournament four times with my favourite team participating in the event.
  • Could I have possibly turned into a Canucks fan? I will admit since they've been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, my interest has dropped off significantly. In some respects you are a product of your environment. When it's all the talk at work and with friends, you tend to drink the Canucks Kool-Aid. I wasn't shotgunning it, but I was sipping it.
  • A sure sign that I am getting old? Running into Dylan Hood this past weekend at the Hockey Night in Canada 4-on-4 street hockey tournament and coming to the realization that he is entering his 20 year-old season in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Wasn't he just 16?
  • Color Analyst Gord McGarva pointed out on the weekend that WHL referee Steve Papp was participating in the street hockey tournament down at Prospera Place. Papp came over to speak with McGarva, giving me a true appreciation for how young he, and other WHL officials, truly are.
  • You couldn't help but like Brett Breitkruez during his short stint with the Kelowna Rockets. Never shy of the microphone, Kruezer has signed a two year deal with the Cologne Sharks in the German DEL. The 20 year-old will always be remembered as the second player selected by the Rockets in the 2004 WHL Bantam Draft behind Luke Schenn.
  • One of the NHL's high profile player agents is apparently considering making Kelowna his home. I have it on good authority that J.P Barry wants to move his family to the Okanagan.
  • I've been reading Gregg Drinnan's blog from the Memorial Cup in Brandon. Good stuff, yet he has suggested numerous times this week about the impressive score clock/video monitor at Westman Place, yet still believes we are in the dark ages in Kelowna. While the score clock hasn't changed at Prospera Place since the building opened in 1999, four - 6 by 12 foot video monitors located above the clock provide everything from video replays to the dreaded kiss cam. The video monitors were installed prior to the start of last season. In fact, an entire control room at the opposite end of Manhattan Point Restaurant is dedicated to operating those video screens. Impressive to say the least.
  • So Rod Pedersen has parted ways as the pbp voice of the Regina Pats. He will be missed in the broadcast booth no doubt, but you had to know something had to give here. I was often amazed that he juggled both the Riders and Pats play-by-play and often would call a hockey game one night and then would quickly bolt to another city to call football the next day. Good on him to be able to keep both balls in the air, but one of the organizations is going to feel neglected by a radio guy who is getting pulled in opposite directions. It's just the way it is. You would think Dan Plaster, the Pats Director of Communications, would be the man moving behind the mic.
  • My good buddy Doyle Potenteau has a new website that he launched this week. Check it out.
  • It's looking more and more like the Chicago Black Hawks are off to the Stanley Cup final. While all the attention in the Okanagan is on Hawks d-man Duncan Keith, let's not forget about Kelowna's Kyle Beach. Beach, the Hawks first round pick in 2008, is with the big club for their playoff run. While he isn't playing, even practicing with them at this time of the year has to be a thrill.
  • If Duncan Keith wins a Stanley Cup title with the Hawks, he would join Travis Moen (Anaheim) and Scott Parker (Colorado) as former Rockets alumni that have won hockey's coveted prize.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunshine and street hockey

Left to right: Cam Paddock, Blake Comeau, Tyler Mosienko, me, Troy Bodie.

  • Former Rockets forward Tyler Mosienko is back in Kelowna. Mosienko participated in the Hockey Night in Canada 4-on-4 celebrity hockey game Saturday afternoon in front of Prospera Place. Mosienko, who played in Germany this past season, was joined by former Rockets Blake Comeau (Islanders) and Troy Bodie (Anaheim) in the game. I had the privilege of emceeing the event along with colour analyst Gord McGarva.
  • Cam Paddock took in the game as a casual observer. Paddock likely would have been unable to participate as he recovers from hip surgery. Paddock spent the season with the St Louis Blues A-H-L team in Peoria. Paddock also makes Kelowna is off-season home.
  • Bob Bourne can still play. The 4 time Stanley Cup champion also participated in the celebrity street hockey game. Bourne may not have the legs to move like someone in his 20's, but the hands haven't failed him.
  • I ran into Moose Jaw Warriors forward Dylan Hood at the 4-on-4 tournament. Hood entered a team in the elite division with some of his friends from Osoyoos.
  • I thought I spotted Prince George Cougars head coach Dean Clark taking in the tournament. My duties at the celebrity game didn't allow me a chance to say hello, but it should be no surprise Clark is spending the summer in K-Town. Clark's wife is from here.
  • You can't let the Hockey Night in Canada 4-on-4 street hockey tournament go by without participating in it yourself. As a member of the 'Astral Attack', our radio station put together a team that had high expectations coming into the tournament, yet were given a solid dose of reality on how good teams are that participate in this thing. Many of the players are involved in organized league's and often tour around the province playing in various tournaments. We were just seven guys from the office putting together a team to have some fun and put on a sweat. It showed! While I won't outline the scores in the first two games we played, out of sure embarrassment, we did win our third game to end the tournament 1 and 2.

Friday, May 14, 2010

St. Denis' future with Rockets set for July 1st

What is Kyle St. Denis' future with the Kelowna Rockets? We will find out July 1st. The Rockets organization have given St. Denis until that date to decide if he will suit up this season or end his junior career. St. Denis played in just 26 games this past season because of a number of concussions. The 20 year-old was the jewel in a six player trade with the Regina Pats in December of 2006. If St. Denis is able to return, he would fight with three other 20 year-olds for an overage spot in 2010-2011.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WHL names referee's for Memorial Cup

Pat Smith and Matt Kirk are the referee's that will represent the Western Hockey League at the 2010 Memorial Cup in Brandon.
It's the first Memorial Cup assignment for both Smith and Kirk.
The WHL will also have five linesman working games over the ten days.

Graham James is hiding out in Mexico

  • CBC's - The National - has an exclusive interview with former junior coach Graham James. That will air tonight at 7 o'clock local time. James is apparently hiding out in Mexico, specifically in Jalisco, which is located in central-western Mexico. Jalisco has a population of 7 million.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It happened one year ago today....

May 9, 2009.
The Kelowna Rockets are declared WHL Champions with a 3-2 overtime win against the Calgary Hitmen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cherry gives Gorges an endorsement

Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada gave Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges some love Thursday night.
Cherry says Gorges should be the captain of the Canadiens. Gorges was named the second star in a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh.

Speaking of the Canadiens, don't you love the way the fans stick around in the building for the three star selection. No one leaves the building until the three stars have been announced. I often see Rockets fans quickly getting out of their seats at games end to beat the rush. Face it you aren't getting home any earlier than the guy next to you applauding the efforts of the players that receives mention in the three star ceremony at the conclusion of the contest.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spurgeon's season abruptly ends

Tyler Spurgeon's season ended abruptly Sunday.
The former Kelowna Rockets captain, who has been playing with the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat, was elbowed in the head Sunday in a playoff game against the Hamilton Bull Dogs.
Spurgeon suffered a broken cheekbone, which has him sidelined for between 4 and 6 weeks.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • I found it interesting that Ray Ferraro was behind the mic providing colour commentary for TSN on their coverage of the San Jose/Detroit game Sunday night. Ferraro may want be careful with his words when critiquing the Wings, considering his son Landon was drafted by Detroit in 2009. I am sure Ferraro won't ruffle any feathers.
  • Former Rockets now playing pro hockey are slowly trickling back to the Okanagan. I ran into Mike Card Sunday afternoon outside the grocery store. Card played pro hockey in Europe this season and is again spending the summer living with former Rocket teammate Justin Keller.
  • Speaking of the Rockets, their annual alumni golf weekend is planned for late July. Shea Weber, Tyler Myers and Luke Schenn have all committed to the three day event.
  • No surprised to see the Calgary Hitmen up 2-0 in the WHL final against the Tri City Americans. Why? It always seems one team surprises the other when the east meets west in the WHL championship series. Look at the 2005 championship series as an example, or how about 2009 when the Rockets upset the Hitmen? The Rockets steamrolled the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games in 2005. The element of surprise was clearly evident. Not even pre-scouting for video analysis could show the Wheat Kings what type of intensity was necessary to win that series. The same could be said last year when the Hitmen hammered everyone in their path in claiming the Eastern Conference crown before losing the first three games to the Rockets in the championship series. I received some snide remarks on this blog when I stated that the Hitmen were still a year away from being in a good position to claim a league title considering the bulk of their team was still a year younger than the Rockets. Now with a deep core of 19 year-olds, they are two wins away from hoisting the trophy.
  • Lopsided league finals are usually the norm. In 2008 Spokane beat Lethbridge in four straight games. The Giants rolled over Moose Jaw in four straight in 06 and the Rockets - as mentioned - took only five games to dispose of Brandon in 05. League finals like 2007 where Medicine Hat and Vancouver go the distance are the exception, not the norm. In fact, since 1995, only once, has a WHL final gone the distance.
  • Having switched from Shaw to Telus TV in March, I have been unable to watch any of the WHL final series. In talking to those who subscribe to Shaw, the move to high-def has made the experience of watching the WHL final even that much more enjoyable.
  • Please don't bitch and complain about the rain. Let's take all we can get considering the dry summer forecasted in the Okanagan. I am sick of going through the month of August with smoke filled skies and local residence fleeing for their lives as forest fires ravage the mountain side. I hope this rain is felt in Washington and Oregon state too. If forest fires aren't smoking us out here, we are usually getting it from our neighbors to the south.