Monday, February 28, 2011
Here is some random video I took on the trip out east. In hindsight I should have taken more, but this thing called 'doing my job' got in the way. All joking aside, I hope you enjoy my first attempt at this. It can only get better from here! This is taken with a digital camera, not a video camera, so the image may be less than ideal.
- The most interesting interview of the Central Division road trip came from Kootenay Ice General Manager Jeff Chynoweth when it came to attendance in Cranbrook. He's not happy, and do you blame him? Acquiring one of the most dynamic player in the WHL yet you are hovering under the 25 hundred mark for home games? I feel Chynoweth's frustration. During our interview he could have painted a rosie picture that all is well in 'Kootenay Country', but like his late father Ed, Jeff told it like it is and you have to appreciate that from a general manager that doesn't get the credit he deserves for his teams successes over the years. He won't win many friends in Cranbrook by his comments, but does he have anything to lose?
- The Rockets scored 38 goals in the month of February. The line of Geordie Wudrick, Colton Sissons and Evan Bloodoff scored 21 of those 38 goals. Sissons had 14 points (7+7=14), Wudrick had 12 points (7+5=12) and Bloodoff had 11 points (7+4=11). Essentially that line was responsible for 55% percent of the Rockets goals during the month.
- You have to give the Swift Current Broncos and their fans credit for coming out under the circumstances. February was a disaster for that team, yet despite the calls for head coach Mark Lamb's head, they are still coming out to watch. Lamb isn't the problem though in Swift Current. Axing the coach is always the fans first response. It's nonsense. As an outsider, it clearly looks to me as if the Broncos were a weak bunch mentally and let the Cody Eakin trade affect them greatly. Yes, injuries were a factor in the teams slide, but the Broncos were touted as having one of the best forward units in the league heading into the season regardless of whether Eakin returned to junior. I'm hoping they make the playoffs, I really am. I will admit it though, I don't like their chances.
- I asked Eakin about the Broncos slide since he was traded. "It's tough to see that. Obviously I know those guys, the coach and the management. When we played them we had a hard time with them and it wasn't a push over game. I think a couple of injuries are holding them back right now. If they can make a push right now...like I said they are a hard team to play against and if they can get back into the playoff spot they could give whatever team they face all they can handle".
- Get healthy Brett Bulmer! Line-mate Shane McColgan misses ya.
- The Everett Silvertips can spin it, but the Red Deer Rebels clearly won the trade that saw Byron Froese move to Red Deer for forward Landon Ferraro. Even if Ferraro would have remained healthy, Froese had a better season. Over 30 goals for Froese is no surprise. He scores goals and has always been a point producer. Will he be a better pro that Ferraro? Maybe not, but from a Rebels perspective, who cares? Froese's greatest accomplishment may have been his ability to take a back-seat role to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 17 year-old receives all the media attention - and rightfully so - but Froese is a good teammate by just going on the ice and producing.
- Speaking of trades, I have to say it after biting my tongue for a couple of weeks now. The Rockets were the winner in the Geordie Wudrick/Stepan Novotny deal. Wudrick has scored big goals for the Rockets this season, including four terrific shootout goals that are lost among the 36 he's scored this season . Technically he has 40 goals....ya, ya, shootout goals don't count but you get the idea.
- Wudrick will play in his 100th game with the Rockets Wednesday night in Kamloops. Wudrick has 55 goals and 84 points in a Rockets uniform. Pretty good return if you ask me. His nine goals in that opening round playoff series last year against Everett was one of the main reasons why the Rockets provided an upset.
- In his last 24 games, Wudrick has 17 goals. By comparison, the leading point getter in the league - Medicine Hat's Linden Vey - has 15 goals in his last 24. Tyler Johnson of Spokane has 16 goals in his last 24 games. The only players to out due Wudrick is Chilliwack's Ryan Howse (24 goals in his last 24 games) and Vancouver's Brendan Gallagher (18 goals in his last 24).
- The Vancouver Giants lost just four of 11 games in February, for a total of 14 points earned. The Rockets lost five times and once in a shootout in the 13 games they played for a total of 15 points in February. The Kamloops Blazers also earned 15 points during the month. Chilliwack and Prince George each earned 11 points during the month.
- The Red Deer Rebels organization has struck a cord with young fans. The upper seating area at the Centrium Friday night was rocking with young kids enjoying the game. That's huge in the long term future of the franchise. I noticed a similar presence in Calgary, but not so much in Cranbrook.
- One of the benefits of having a video screen on the score-clock is the ability to show the fans in the stands, particularly the young ones that get a kick out of seeing themselves on the 'big screen'. Simple concept really in Red Deer, where a gentleman with a mic during the intermission holds a cheering (shouting) match involving the two sides of the arena. The kids eat it up.
- The Red Deer Rebels organization hasn't made it official, but they get my nod if they bid for the 2013 Memorial Cup. Great city, solid building and everything they host is nothing but successful. If the Rockets bid as well, I withdraw my endorsement of Red Deer.
- Rockets rookie defenceman Damon Severson had his ears lowered on the weekend. No big deal for a junior player to get his haircut on the road right? Well, Severson receives his haircut from his grandma. His grandma watched games on the Alberta road trip and brought her scissors and other hair cutting tools with her. Severson tells me his grandma has always cut his hair. I wouldn't have dared let my grandma cut my hair as a kid. She would have given me a 'pig shave'. Remember that term? A 'pig shave' is having your hair cut extremely short. Maybe it's an old Saskatchewan term? I think the proper term used now-a-days is 'buzz cut'.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
- Call Geordie Wudrick third time lucky, yet in saying that, hockey sense, not luck had everything to do with his heroics Saturday night in a 4-3 overtime win against the Calgary Hitmen. Wudrick missed two glorious opportunities to score the game winner in the dying seconds of regulation time but then fired home the decisive goal in overtime as the Rockets ended a Central Division road swing with a 3 and 1 record.
- After scoring the tying goal late in the third period, Wudrick almost ended it by firing a laser beam in the high slot off the cross bar. Moments later, Wudrick received a perfect pass at the right face-off circle from Colton Sissons but fired the puck high over the wide open side of the net. Then in overtime, the same two players hooked up for the game winner as Sissons won a race for a puck along the end boards inside the Hitmen's zone. Sissons threw it into the slot where Wudrick out-waited the Hitmen goaltender before depositing the puck on the forehand. Game over!
- Wudrick now has 36 goals on the season and is attempting to become the first Rockets player since Jamie Benn to hit the 40 goal plateau. Wudrick leads the team in game winning goals with eight.
- The win was the Rockets 36th of the season, one more than all of last season. The team has 18 road wins this season, just one shy of the 19 the 2009 WHL champion Rockets won just a fewer short seasons ago.
- Talk about insult to injury. Not only did the Rockets take two points out of the Saddledome but the father of Rockets defenceman Damon Severson won the 50-50 draw. It was worth about 7 grand.
- The Rockets closed off four games in five nights by spending Sunday at Radium Hot Springs for a team building session. A time to relax and enjoy each others company after a wicked month of games and travel is a nice way to end off the busiest portion of the schedule.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
- Goaltender Darcy Kuemper has single handily won games for the Red Rebels this season. On Friday night Adam Brown did the same for the Kelowna Rockets in a 1-0 road win. Brown, the games first star, made 27 saves in the shutout as the Rockets moved four points up on Vancouver for first place in the BC Division.
- Brown was spectacular, making several solid stops, including a first period breakaway when the Rockets were on the power play. Brown made a serious second period stop on Rebels forward Byron Froese when two Rockets defenceman collided at the blue-line. Froese was again stoned by Brown from in-close late in the third period. It was Brown's 10th career shutout.
- Geordie Wudrick's one timer from the high slot was the only goal of the game. Line-mate Colton Sissons beat a Rebel defenceman to the puck against the boards and quickly backhanded a pass that Wudrick one-timed into the back of the net. It was the 20 year-old's 34th goal of the season, one shy of his career best of 35 set with the Swift Current Broncos.
- You don't see him mentioned much on this blog but defenceman MacKenzie Johnston did a nice job against Rebels leading scorer Ryan Nugent Hopkins. Taking body against the skilled forward is a must and Johnston did just that.
- It was only the second time this season the Rebels have been shut out at home. The other team outside to accomplish the feat? The Kamloops Blazers.
- It was the Rockets first road shutout since a 4-0 win in Edmonton back on February 26/2010. Adam Brown made 24 saves on the night.
- The Rockets have now matched their win total from all of last season when they won 35 games in 2009-2010.
- The horrid schedule of February comes to an end Saturday night when the Rockets face the Calgary Hitmen. That will be the completion of 13 games in 24 days.
- Following the game we ate at Montana’s where the players gag has someone unexpectedly wearing the moose horns as staff members are fooled into thinking it is the unsuspecting victims birthday. On Friday night I was officially given the moose horns, which I wore with pride as the players had a good chuckle. I will gladly wear those things if it means a Rockets victory.
- I met Zak Stebner’s family at the restaurant afterwards. It was nice to meet Ward Stebner (Zak’s father) face-to-face for the first time this season. We’ve exchanged e-mails, so it was nice to finally meet.
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets are meeting the Red Deer Rebels for the second and final time this season. Both games this season have been played in Red Deer. Back on December 10th the Rockets earned a 5-1 win. Evan Bloodoff scored twice and added an assist in the victory. Geordie Wudrick also had two goals while Adam Brown made 37 saves, including a penalty shot save on Rebels forward Colten Mayor. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Calgary to face the Hitmen to wrap up a February road schedule that had the team playing 13 games in 24 nights.
Rockets recent game: Colton Sissons scored the game winning goal in the shootout leading the Kelowna Rockets to a 3-2 win Wednesday night over the Medicine Hat Tigers. Shane McColgan (20) and Zach Franko (17) scored first period goals before the Tigers tied the game with back-to-back goals. Adam Brown was named the games 1st star by stopping six of seven shooters in the shootout. The Rockets out-shot the Tigers 40-31.
Who’s Hot: Colton Sissons has points in four of his last five games….Evan Bloodoff has seven goals in his last eleven games….Georide Wudrick has points in four of his last five games. Brett Bulmer has points in eleven of his last 15 games…Shane McColgan snapped a 10 game goal scoring drought Wednesday night with his 20th of the season…..Tyson Barrie hasn’t scored in 15 games. That’s his longest scoring drought of the season.
This and That: The Rockets have 16 road wins this season. Last year the team won just 15 times on opposition ice…..The Rockets have 34 wins this season. Last season they had 35 victories…The Rockets have 18 home ice wins this season. Last year they had 20 home victories….The Rockets have 69 points this season. Last season the team had 7 more points at season’s end (76)…..Adam Brown has 77 career wins, which is good for second place on the Rockets all-time list. Brown is 6 wins shy of Kelly Guard’s 83 victories…..The Rockets are 19 and 4 when Geordie Wudrick scores…. The Rockets have just 12 games left in the regular season…Shane McColgan leads the Rockets in road points with 24. McColgan is followed by Brett Bulmer (20)…..Since the start of November the Rockets have lost just fifteen times in regulation during their last 46 games (30-15-0-1). The Rockets lost ten times in their first 14 games to start the season….Jason Siebert is missing his 36th straight games after undergoing surgery on his wrist….The Rockets have allowed the fewest goals against on the road in the WHL this season (84), one fewer than the Red Deer Rebels….The Rockets have scored 50 more goals at home than on the road. The Rockets have played 30 games at home and 30 times on opposition ice…The Rockets have been involved in twenty-one (21) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 14-6-0-1 in those twenty-one (21) one goal games…Adam Brown has started forty-one of the last 49 games…The Rockets franchise played in its 1400th regular season game December 14th in Medicine Hat. The team has 731 regular season wins….The Rockets were 8 and 10 in 18 games this season without Tyson Barrie in the lineup. Barrie missed seven games at the start of the season with a hip injury and eleven games as a member of Team Canada….Only four players have played in all 60 regular season games this season. They are Zach Franko, Kevin Smith, Evan Bloodoff and Spencer Main…The Rockets are 15-10-0-1 in twenty-six games since returning from the Christmas break…The Rockets have scored 6 or more goals on home ice eleven (11) times this season…Over the last ten games the Rockets have scored eleven goals in their last 50 power play chances (22%)…..Geordie Wudrick (3) and Colton Sissons (1) have hat tricks this season.…The Rockets have received the most power play chances of any team in the WHL this season (331)…Colton Jobke is returning to the lineup tonight after serving a seven game suspension for an interference major earlier this month against the Chilliwack Bruins..Geordie Wudrick is 4 for 4 in the shootout this season….Brett Bulmer is missing his 6th straight game with a knee injury….The Rockets are 4 and 1 in the shootout.