Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face-off against the Prince George Cougars in game one of a best of seven Western Conference quarter-final series. Game two is tomorrow night at Prospera Place before the series shifts back to Prince George for games three and four next Tuesday and Wednesday night. These two teams are meeting for the first time in the playoffs since 2000. In that series, the Cougars eliminated the Rockets in five games. These two teams met nine times during the regular season with the Rockets winning six of the nine games and out-scored Prince George 33-24. The Rockets are making their 19th appearance in the playoffs in the clubs 20 year history. The only time the Rockets have failed to make the playoffs was in 2006-2007 when the team won just 22 games and finished ninth in the Western Conference regular season standings.
Playoff Experience: Geordie Wudrick, Evan Bloodoff and Tyson Barrie lead the Rockets in playoff experience with 41 games apiece. Overage d-man Zak Stebner has 27 games of playoff experience after playing in 23 games last season with the WHL champion Calgary Hitmen. Seven Rockets are making their playoff debuts tonight including veteran defenceman MacKenzie Johnston, who was a healthy scratch for all 12 playoff games last season.
Who’s Hot: Colton Sissons has 17 points (5+12=17) in his last twelve games….Geordie Wudrick has goals in eight of his last twelve games….Tyson Barrie has points in eight of his last thirteen…Evan Bloodoff has twelve points (6+6=12) in his last sixteen games…Shane McColgan has eight assists in his last ten games...Mitchell Callahan has 3+3=6 in his last ten games…Zach Franko has five goals in his last eight games.
This and That: The Rockets had 17 more points than the Cougars during the regular season….The Rockets were 22-13-0-2 from January 1st to the end of the regular season. The Cougars were 14-20-0-1 over that same period. The Rockets accumulated 46 points over that stretch while the Cougars earned just 29…Geordie Wudrick has 15 goals over his playoff career. Wudrick scored an amazing eight goals in an opening round series with the Everett Silvertips last season…Tyson Barrie leads the Rockets in playoff points with 33. Barrie has 8+25=33. Wudrick has 23 career points.…The Rockets are facing a BC Division opponent in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009, the year they eliminated the Kamloops Blazers on their way to a WHL title….Nineteen year-old Adam Brown has just three playoff games under his belt. Brown started in the first three games of an opening round series with Everett last season before being replaced in game four by Mark Guggenberger. Brown did not see the ice after that…The Rockets scored sixteen more goals than they did all of last season…Last season the team scored 224 times….The Rockets ended the season with 22 road wins. Last year the team won just 15 times on opposition ice…..The Rockets had 43 wins this season. Last season they had 35 victories…The Rockets had 21 home ice wins this season. Last year they had 20 home victories….The Rockets had 87 points this season. Last season the team had eleven fewer points at season’s end (76)…..Jason Siebert is missing his 48th straight game after undergoing surgery on his wrist….The Rockets allowed the fewest goals against on the road in the WHL this season (93 – tied with Red Deer)….The Rockets were involved in twenty-six (26) one goal games this season. The Rockets were 18-7-0-1 in those twenty-six (26) one goal games…Only three players dressed in all 72 regular season games this season. They were Zach Franko, Kevin Smith and Evan Bloodoff.…The Rockets received the second most power play chances of any team in the WHL this season (383). Tri City led the league with 385 opportunities.… The Rockets (6-0), Portland (5-0) and Swift Current (5-0) were the only three teams in the WHL this season that did not lose in overtime….The Rockets allowed the second (tied with Red Deer) fewest power play goals against in the WHL (51). Only Spokane allowed fewer goals against…At the Rockets awards banquet Sunday, Adam Brown was named the team MVP. Tyson Barrie was named the top defenceman while Mitchell Callahan was the top defensive forward. Colton Sissons picked up the rookie of the year award and top plus/minus player. Jessey Astles was named the most improved while MacKenzie Johnston was the scholastic player of the year. Geordie Wudrick was the humanitarian of the year…The Rockets lost game one of their opening round playoff series to the Everett Silvertips last year (5-4 in overtime). The Rockets last game one win in an opening round series came against the Kamloops Blazers in 2009 (4-2)…Tyson Barrie was named a 1st team WHL All-Star on defence. Barrie was also named the Western Conference representative for the WHL Defenceman of the Year. Barrie is up against Saskatoon Blades d-man Stefan Elliott. Both are drafted by the Colorado Avalanche. Barrie won the award last season.