Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Struggling teams collide at Prospera Place

  • Two teams facing a similar situation meet tonight at Prospera Place. The Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars are without marquee 19 year-old forwards who are still playing in the NHL. While the Cougars can move on after Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman confirmed last night that Brett Connolly will not be returning to Prince George, there is still a slim possibility that Brett Bulmer could return to the Rockets. The key word here is slim. Wild GM Cliff Fletcher says as long as Bulmer continues to improve, like he has, why send him back to junior? Can't argue with that.
  • While the Rockets lack of early season success has been well documented, the Cougars six game losing streak may be a little misleading. The Cougars have played just five home games and recently completed a seven game road trip where they won just one game. The real concern for the Cougars is in the goal scoring department. Prince George has been shutout in three of their last six games.
  • The Cougars may play tonight's game without top defenceman Martin Marincin. The 19 year-old was ejected from last night's 6-2 loss in Vancouver after receiving a game misconduct for an interference penalty.
  • The injury bug is biting hard on the Kelowna Rockets. Kevin Smith is out for well over a month after getting injured in a freak collision during warm up in Victoria earlier this month. On the WHL injury report, Smith is listed as being out for a month/plus. That suggests he could be back after Christmas in a worst case scenario.
  • Also injured is 16 year-old d-man Jesse Lees. While some would consider that a minor setback, Lees appeared to be coming into his own as a first year player and was generating some good things in the offensive zone. Lees too, could be out of action until early December with the dreaded 'upper body injury'.
  • Forward Carter Rigby is still at least two weeks away from returning from what appears to be a concussion. Rigby was blindsided in a game against the Vancouver Giants last Thursday and didn't return. Giants d-man Blake Orban has been suspended four games for the hit.
  • The only good news is forward Filip Vasko is back in tonight after serving a one game suspension for a checking from behind incident against Victoria Saturday night. The WHL handed out the one game suspension, which Vasko served, after sitting out Sunday's game in Vancouver.
  • With all the talk about injuries, specifically to the defensive core, you would think Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton is working the phones to find some help. The weight of the world is on Mitchell Chapman, Myles Bell, MacKenzie Johnston, Damon Severson, Cole Martin and Madison Bowey.
  • Cole Martin is the only Rockets player that has failed to register a point this season. The well spoken 17 year-old will see his name on the score sheet shortly with the increased ice time.
  • Veteran Adam Brown will start in goal for the Rockets. He has played in 11 of the teams first 13 games.

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