Monday, October 31, 2011

Bulmer is coming back

Brett Bulmer is coming back to the Kelowna Rockets.
The Minnesota Wild made it official Monday morning.

Call it an early treat on Halloween for a team with only 5 regular season wins this season.
The 19 year-old played nine NHL regular season games but watched from the press box Saturday in the
Wild's win over the Detroit Red Wings.
You had to know something was up as the team kept him from playing his 10th game of the season which would have burned a year off his three year contract.

The Prince George minor hockey products return couldn't come at a better time after a miserable month of October where the Rockets managed only four wins in 14 games.
Much of the team's struggles was the result of injuries and icing an extremely young team with little depth.
The coaches had no choice but to put these young players into crucial situations when they simply weren't ready. The coaches hands were tied as the injury bug continued to chomp on the teams veteran players.
Bulmer's return is great news. But
let's make one thing clear here. Bulmer is not the saviour.
The teams
fortunes will not change without everyone contributing in their own way.
What Bulmer will bring to the table is a threat to score both even strength and on the power play and a key veteran presence at the forward position when the game is on the line. Bulmer is the only 19 year-old forward on the team outside of the injured Spencer Main.
Bulmer can be a difference maker and a game changer. He is a momentum changer. And yes, he makes everyone around him that much better.
Bulmer's return to junior could be short lived though.
The Rockets' may have him for just 15 regular season games before he is invited to Team Canada's training camp in early December.

If he already hasn't, he will certainly prove on that stage that he indeed is one of the top 19 year-old forwards in the country.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October by the numbers

  • The month of October saw the Kelowna Rockets win just four of 14 games. Of those 14 games, seven were played on the road. Of those seven road games, the Rockets failed to record a win. They were 0-6-1-0 on the road and 4-3-0-0 on home ice during the month.
  • Of the fourteen games played in October, ten were against BC Division opponents.
  • Of the ten losses in October, four were by a single goal.
  • Shane McColgan was the leading point producers in October with 5+12=17. McColgan was in on 41 percent of the goals the Rockets scored during the month.
  • Damon Severson had 14 points in October followed by Myles Bell with 12. Colton Sissons led the team in goals scored with six during the month. McColgan, Bell and Cody Chikie were next with five goals apiece.
  • When the Rockets' allowed four or more goals in a game in October they were 0-6-1-0.
  • When the Rockets allowed three of fewer goals in October they were 4-2-0-0.
  • Last season the Rockets were 10-1-0-0 in the month of November. The only blemish was a 4-0 loss to the Kamloops Blazers.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The +/- of a 5-2 loss to the Blazers

The Positives:

1) The Rockets' out-shot the Blazers by firing 37 pucks on net. Sure, five power plays in the third period contribute to that total, but sending pucks towards the net and forcing Blazers goaltender Cole Cheveldave to make quality saves was a positive.
2) Zach Franko ends up with one assist and a -1 rating at the end of the night, but the 18 year-old may have put in his best effort of the season. Franko was skating, competing and being a difference maker. I saw the Franko of old in the third period when he peeled back into his own end with the puck, began to skating forward and quickly moved away from two Blazers attempting to steal the puck off his stick. If you are Zach Franko, you want the puck and will do everything in your power to keep it when someone attempts to take it away from you.
3) Maybe it was just me, but the Rockets overall play in the first half of the game looked less fractured that normal. The passing was visibly better, crisper if you want to put it that way, and they looked more composed in their own zone.
4) Down 2-0, the Rockets' could have shut down the mill, but they didn't, getting a greasy goal from Tyrell Goulbourne to make it a 2-1 game. For close to 35 minutes the Rockets' were in this game until Chase Schaber's goal to make it 3-1.
5) Jordon Cooke came into the game in a relief appearance and looked steady. Facing only six shots, Cooke still looked composed and didn't let the score become laughable.
6) Discipline. It was great. The Rockets took only four minor penalties all night, but in the saying that, the Blazers scored on two of their four power play chances.

The negatives:

1) Chase Schaber's 3-1 goal was the killer. You can point to the power play goal the Blazers scored just 1:25 after that goal to make it 4-1, but Schaber's ability to beat Rockets rookie Tanner Moar to the net was costly. Moar needs to do everything in his power to either out muscle the Kamloops captain or in a worst case scenario haul him down. It wouldn't have been a bad penalty to take. Lesson learned.
2) I am not sure what happened on the Blazers second goal where Brendan Ranford takes a shot from the right face-off circle that beats Adam Brown high to the glove hand side. Either Brown lost sight of the puck and didn't know Ranford had it on his stick or he was playing a pass, which Ranford never made. The 2-0 goal looked like a save Brown would normally make with ease.
3) The Blazers 4-1 goal was as pretty as they come. When you can go dot-to-dot with a pass that is one-timed into the net by Dylan Willick, that precision passing play is not only pretty to watch, it takes the air out of the tires of the team that just surrendered the goal.
4) The power play has to be better. With eight chances, scoring just one goal won't cut it. Five of those extra man advantages were awarded in the third period alone. Allowing a shorthanded goal made for a tough night for the 'specialty teams' which were anything but special.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rockets game notes vs. Blazers

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Kamloops Blazers for the second time this season. These two teams met back on October 16th with the Blazers earning a 3-2 win. After tonight’s game they meet against tomorrow night at Prospera Place in Kelowna. The last Rockets win in Kamloops came March 11/2011 in a 5-1 victory. Geordie Wudrick scored his 40th goal of the season while Adam Brown made 33 saves. The Rockets are 4-6-0-0 in their last ten games at ISC. Overall, the Rockets have just two wins in their last ten games (2-7-1-0) and have been out-scored 40-27 over that period. The Rockets will be looking at snapping a six game road losing streak (0-5-1-0) and have surrendered on average 4.83 goals against in those six road games. The only road win of the season came September 24th in Everett.

This and That: Rockets’ goaltender Adam Brown is 9-6-0-1 in 17 lifetime starts against the Blazers. In only one appearance, Brown started the game only to be replaced. He was neither created with the win or the loss…Colton Sissons was one of 29 players named to the roster for Team WHL for the Subway Super Series next month in Moose Jaw and Regina. Sissons will play against the Russians on November 16th in Regina. Last season, Tyson Barrie represented the Rockets at the Subway Super Series and eventually made Team Canada. Head Coach Ryan Huska will be behind the bench for both games…Over the last four seasons, excluding this year, the Rockets are 24-24-0-0 in the month of October….The Rockets are winless in six straight road games (0-5-1-0) with their only win coming in Everett on September 24th…The Rockets lost seven straight road games (0-6-1-0) during the 2009-2010 season…Colton Sissons has seven goals in his first twelve games. Last season, as a WHL rookie, it took Sissons 34 games to score his seventh goal of the season….Damon Severson’s five assists October 20th against Vancouver tied at club record set by Colin Long, when the slick skating forward had five assists in one game during the 2007-2008 campaign. Josh Gorges also had a five point game (1+4=5) in 2002-2003…Adam Brown is second – all-time - in games played by a Kelowna Rockets goaltender. Brown has 159 career appearances. The franchise leader is Kevin Swanson, who played in 167 games in 1998-2001…The Rockets were 4-9-0-0 after thirteen games last season…The Rockets have scored 42 goals in thirteen games this season after scoring just 35 goals in their first thirteen games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed fifty goals against in thirteen games this season after giving up fifty-four goals in the first thirteen games last season….The Rockets are playing their 1454th regular season game tonight and will hit the 15 hundred mark when they host Red Deer on February 18th…The Rockets are in the midst of playing nine straight games against teams in the BC Division. This is game eight of that stretch (2-4-1-0) …Ryan Huska has 163 wins behind the Rockets bench…The Rockets have scored a power play goal in five straight games and are 6 for 26 (23.1%) over that period…Twenty year-old Kevin Smith is out for over a month with an upper body injury.

Who’s Hot: Shane McColgan has a ten game point streak (3+9=12). Last season McColgan had two – seven game point streaks…Zach Franko had the longest point streak on the team last season at 13 games..Colton Sissons has points in ten of his first thirteen games. Sissons has 7+4=11 over that period…Adam Brown has started in goal in eleven of the first thirteen games…Who’s Not: Zach Franko has one goal in his last eleven games and has 1+1 over that stretch…Tyson Baillie has one goal in his last ten games after scoring twice in the first three games…The Rockets are the youngest team in the WHL with an average age of 17.78 years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rockets rack up 5th win of the season

  • I have a good feeling that the Kelowna Rockets will be involved in a lot of one goal games this season. If that indeed is the case, the only thing head coach Ryan Huska will be concerned about is being on the winning end of the ledger at games end. After losing three straight one goal games, the Rockets earned a 2-1 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars Wednesday night at Prospera Place. The win snapped a two game losing streak while handing the visitors their 7th straight loss.
  • Shane McColgan extended his point streak to a career high 10 games with a first period goal while d-man Myles Bell scored a power play goal less than four minutes into the third period for the game winner. Adam Brown was solid in goal making 28 saves in the win.
  • The player that really stood out for me was 19 year-old defenceman Mitchell Chapman. Chapman was especially good against Cougars forward Charles Inglis. Inglis, playing his first game after sitting out ten games with a suspension, was involved in after whistle scrums at every turn. With Chapman in his back pocket though, Inglis wasn't able to antagonize the home team to any great degree.
  • The game started off with a bang after Cougars forward Troy Bourke was ejected after hitting Rockets forward Filip Vasko from behind just 22 seconds into the first period. Vasko returned after the hit but Bourke's night was through.
  • The Rockets were much better at the face-off circle. The improvement in that department translated into puck possession and a much easier transition out of their own zone.
  • The Cougars also played the game without leading scorer Martin Marinchin, who was kicked out of Tuesday's game in Vancouver after being ejected following an interference call.
  • Fifteen year-old Austin Glover made his WHL debut Wednesday night. The second round pick in this summers WHL bantam draft was called into action after Spencer Main was hurt in Sunday's loss in Vancouver. Even with Glover, the Rockets were one under the league limit.
  • You can learn a lot from the battle level of a player. Even smaller players can be effective if they want to outwork an opponent. Sixteen year-old Cougars forward Jarrett Fontaine may be 5'5 but he often out battled others to the puck. Not only was he willing to win board battles but he scored the Cougars lone goal in the third period.
  • Was it just me or has Cougars d-man Joshua Smith improved significantly from last season? Still wet behind the ears after a rookie season that saw him struggle, Smith has found some confidence in his game and the improved play is noteworthy.

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rockets game notes vs. Cougars

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Prince George Cougars for the first of eight times this season. The Rockets return the visit with back-to-back games at the CN Centre November 18th and 19th and February 3rd and 4th. These two teams met nine times last season, with five of those games being played in Kelowna. The Rockets were 4-1-0-0 at Prospera Place, out-scoring the Cougars 25-14. On the road the Rockets were 2-2-0-0 and were out-scored 10-8. Overall, the Rockets were 6-3-0-0 in the seasonal series against their BC Division rivals. These two teams met in last year’s opening round, with the Rockets sweeping the series in four games. Following tonight’s game, the Rockets open a home and home series with the Kamloops Blazers this Friday and Saturday night. Overall, the Rockets have just one win in their last nine games (1-7-1-0) and have been out-scored 39-25 over that period.

This and That: Over the last four seasons, excluding this year, the Rockets are 24-24-0-0 in the month of October….This October they are 3-7-1-0…The Rockets are winless in six straight road games (0-5-1-0) with their only win coming in Everett on September 24th…The Rockets lost seven straight road games (0-6-1-0) during the 2009-2010 season…Colton Sissons has seven goals in his first eleven games. Last season, as a WHL rookie, it took Sissons 34 games to score his seventh goal of the season….Four of his seven goals have come on the power play…Damon Severson’s five assist effort October 20th against Vancouver tied at club record set by Colin Long, when the slick skating forward had five assists in one game during the 2007-2008 campaign. Josh Gorges also had a five point game (1+4=5) in 2002-2003…Sissons has worn the ‘C’ on his jersey in all twelve regular season games this season, but has not officially been declared the captain by the hockey club ….Adam Brown is second – all-time - in games played by a Kelowna Rockets goaltender. Brown has 157 career appearances. The franchise leader is Kevin Swanson, who played in 167 games in 1998-2001…The Rockets were 4-8-0-0 after twelve games last season…The Rockets have scored 40 goals in twelve games this season after scoring just 33 goals in their first twelve games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed forty-nine goals against in twelve games this season after giving up fifty goals in the first twelve games last season….Second year forward Jason Siebert will miss the first half of this season after his broken wrist didn’t heal properly. Siebert missed the final 48 regular season games and the playoffs last season. The Abbotsford product was the team’s first overall pick in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft….The Rockets are playing their 1453rd regular season game tonight and will hit the 15 hundred mark when they host Red Deer on February 18th…The Rockets are in the midst of playing nine straight games against teams in the BC Division. This is game seven of that stretch (1-4-1-0) …Ryan Huska has 162 wins behind the Rockets bench…Ryan Donaldson made his Rockets debut Sunday in Vancouver. Donaldson was the Rockets 5th round pick from the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft…The Rockets have scored a power play goal in four straight games and are 5 for 23 (21.7%) over that period.

Who’s Hot: Shane McColgan has a nine game point streak (2+9=11)… Colton Sissons has points in nine of his first twelve games. Sissons has 7+3=10 over that period…Adam Brown has started in goal in ten of the first twelve games…Who’s Not: Zach Franko has one goal in his last ten games and has 1+1 over that stretch…Tyson Baillie has one goal in his last nine games after scoring twice in the first three games.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Long in the tooth is better than being wet behind the ears


Is it any coincidence that 19 year-old forwards played significant factors in wins over the Kelowna Rockets this weekend?
Nope.
Nineteen year-old Kevin Sundher had two assists in Victoria's 3-2 win Saturday night before 19 year-old Brendan Gallagher led the way with a goal and three assists in the Giants 5-2 win over the Rockets Sunday night at Pacific Coliseum.
Both are great players. Both are difference makers. Both are 19.
In major junior hockey, you win with older players, with 19 and 20 year-old's being the difference between wins and a loss.
In 2008-2009, the Rockets were led by 19 year-old's Jamie Benn and Colin Long. It was those players, in that age bracket, that helped the team win a league title.
If you look at the top ten scoring race in the WHL this season, of the ten players, only one 18 year-old (Ty Rattie) is among the league leaders. Five of the top ten are 19 while four are overage players.
Being long in the tooth is a lot better than being wet behind the ears.
This season, unfortunately, the Kelowna Rockets are void of top end 19 year-old's.
Nothing against Spencer Main or Mitchell Chapman, but those two are considered responsible defensive players, not game breakers. In fact, I would suggest that both have exceeded expectations with their strong player this season. Main has five goals, third best on the team, while Chapman has logged big minutes with the loss of overage Kevin Smith to injury.
That means 18 year-old players like Shane McColgan, Colton Sissons, Myles Bell and Zach Franko have to be the difference makers if the Rockets hope to have success.
You can succeed with younger players leading the charge, but it rarely happens. Look at the 2006-2007 Everett Silvertips, who won 54 games with 17 year-old Zach Hamill leading the team in scoring and Peter Mueller, as an 18 year-old, racking up 78 points.
So, should we be shocked by the Rockets stumbles out of the gate this season?
When you are the youngest team in the WHL
, early season struggles are the norm.
Can the Rockets win with this young group?
Absolutely!
But what I am suggesting is a top end 19 year-old forward is needed to lead the charge.
That 19 year-old forward, unfortunately, is wearing the colours of the NHL's Minnesota Wild.
One player does not make a team, but a top end talent can make a significant difference to the teams overall success.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

No much to say about this one

If you're the road team, you call it a greasy win. If you're the home team, you call it an ugly loss.
The Victoria Royals won't care what you call it after earning a 3-2 win Saturday night over the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place.
The Royals scored twice in the second period to grab and 3-2 lead and then held on for the one goal win.
The Rockets had ample opportunities to score the equalizing goal, including three-third period power plays and a penalty shot that went for not. Rockets forward Zach Franko was awarded the penalty shot when he was hooked from behind by Royals 20 year-old Hayden Rintoul. Despite the questionable call, Franko not only didn't score, but he lost control of the puck and didn't even get a shot on goal. Then, moments later, Royals d-man Jesse Zgraggen falls down on the puck during a battle against the boards and is penalized for delay of game. Royals coach Marc Habscheid is about to come unglued over the call but Rockets coach Ryan Huska feels even worse as he witnesses his team generate few quality chances on the ensuing power play.

Both of the Rockets goals came from defenceman. That is good and bad. It was tough to pick one Rockets forward who really came to play Saturday night. It was simply a rough night where passes were off the mark and turnovers were plentiful on both sides. I would argue that Saturday night's game featured the most whistles of the eleven the Rockets have played this season.

Not only were the Rockets playing one under the league limit with just 17 skaters, European forward Filip Vasko will be suspended for his checking from behind hit on Royals forward Tim Traber. The hit will show up as a five minute major for a hit to the head on the score sheet even though Traber was hit from behind and his face made contact with the glass/boards. Traber was cut on the play but stayed in the game. The Royals were unable to convert on that extended power play, which was just over three minutes in length after Rintoul fought Vasko and received a instigator penalty for his actions.

With Rintoul also given a 10 minute misconduct, 15 year-old rookie d-man Joe Hicketts logged a lot of minutes as he made his Royals debut. Hicketts turned out to be one of the better defenceman out there on either side and didn't shy away from the body contact despite his 5 foot 8 frame. Hicketts, who plays at Okanagan Hockey Academy, is a first round pick of the Royals from this summers draft.

Rockets game notes vs. Royals

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets snapped a six game winless streak Thursday night with a 6-3 win over the visiting Vancouver Giants. Two of the four wins this season have come against their BC Division rivals. The Rockets face the Victoria Royals tonight for the third time this season. These two teams met last weekend in Victoria, with the Royals winning by scores of 7-5 and 4-3 in overtime. Following tonight’s game these two teams don’t hook up until November 26th when the Royals make a return visit. The Rockets are 3-1-0-0 at home this season with the lone setback coming October 12th in a 4-2 loss to the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. Overall, the Rockets have been out-scored 31-21 in their last seven games. Kelowna is in Vancouver tomorrow afternoon (5 PM) before welcoming Prince George on Wednesday October 26th.

Home Cook’n: After playing six of their first 9 games on the road, eight of the Rockets next 10 will be played at Prospera Place. They include home games over Victoria, Prince George, Kamloops, Red Deer, Edmonton and back-to-back games against visiting Portland. Enjoy this stretch of games at home because after this the Rockets play nine of their final 16 games before Christmas on the road.

This and That: Colton Sissons has seven goals in his first ten games. Last season, as a WHL rookie, it took Sissons 34 games to score his seventh goal of the season….Four of his seven goals have come on the power play…Damon Severson’s five assist effort Thursday night against Vancouver tied at club record set by Colin Long, when the slick skating forward had five assists in one game during the 2007-2008 campaign. Josh Gorges also had a five point game (1+4=5) in 2002-2003…The Rockets have been out-shot in three of the last four games….The Rockets have also failed to open the scoring in three of the last four games…Sissons has worn the ‘C’ on his jersey in all ten regular season games this season, but has not officially been declared the captain by the hockey club ….Shane McColgan earned his 100th career assist Sunday night in a 3-2 loss in Kamloops….Adam Brown is second – all-time - in games played by a Kelowna Rockets goaltender. Brown has 155 career appearances. The franchise leader is Kevin Swanson, who played in 167 games in 1998-2001…Adam Brown earned his 89th career win Thursday against Vancouver. Brown is the franchise leader in that category surpassing Kelly Guard’s 83 career wins…The Rockets were 2-8-0-0 after ten games last season…The Rockets have scored 36 goals in ten games this season after scoring just 28 goals in their first ten games one season ago…The Rockets have allowed forty-one goals against in ten games this season after giving up forty-four goals in the first ten games last season….Second year forward Jason Siebert will miss the first half of this season after his broken wrist didn’t heal properly. Siebert missed the final 48 regular season games and the playoffs last season. The Abbotsford product was the team’s first overall pick in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft….The Rockets are playing their 1451st regular season game tonight and will hit the 15 hundred mark when they host Red Deer on February 18th…The Rockets are in the midst of playing nine straight games against teams in the BC Division. This is game five of that stretch (1-2-1-0) …Ryan Huska has 162 wins behind the Rockets bench…Brett Bulmer has played seven regular season games with the Minnesota Wild, picking up two assist. Bulmer had 18 goals as an 18 year-old forward last season...On this date, one year ago today, the Rockets earned a 4-3 shoot-out win over the Everett Silvertips. Tyson Barrie scored the game winning goal…Former Rockets forward Mitchell Callahan is serving a four game suspension after a hit in a AHL game earlier this week. Callahan is playing this season wth Detroit’s minor league affiliate in Grand Rapids.

Who’s Hot: Shane McColgan has a seven game point streak (2+7=9)… Colton Sissons has points in seven of his first ten games. Sissons has 7+1=8 over that period…Fifteeen year-old Tyson Baillie has points in six of his first ten games. Baillie has 3+4=7 over that period….Cody Chikie has one goal in his last five games after scoring four goals in five games…Adam Brown has started in goal in eight of the first ten games…Jesse Less has points in six of his last eight games.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hay would like to see Bulmer back in Kelowna

Vancouver Giants head coach Don Hay has concerns with 19 year-old Kelowna Rockets forward Brett Bulmer starting the season with the NHL's Minnesota Wild.
Speaking to Hay prior to last night's game, he has witnessed this song and dance before after former Giants forward James Wright made the Tampa Bay Lighting roster, only to be returned to junior hockey.

"We didn't think he (Wright) was ready to play but the NHL thought he was ready. He didn't play any NHL games last year as a first year pro and he is back in the American Hockey League this year as a second year pro. It is kinda strange that a guy can go up there and play 48 games one year, as a 19 year-old, and can't make the team the next year. Sometimes teams are weak in some positions and they are looking for a certain guy who can fit that hole and is affordable."

The Giants and Rockets have a common thread over the last few years when it comes to losing 19 year-old players to NHL teams. Most recently the Giants lost Evander Kane to Atlanta while Tyler Myers was plucked off the Rockets roster by the Buffalo Sabres.

"I see nothing wrong with coming back and playing junior hockey. You get leadership, you get different roles and you get to play in a lot of different situations. They are with their own age group and they gain so much more confidence. You just don't want a young player to loose confidence. I would hate to see a young player play in the NHL if they are getting only eight or nine minutes. As much as those players like the lifestyle and like the league and like the paycheck, in the long run you want to play in the NHL a long time and these teams are making these decisions"

Hay says if Bulmer returned to the Kelowna Rockets, he would have more to play for than just his junior team. Bulmer could have the chance of playing for his country at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships.

"He's definitely on the radar. We've talked about him obviously. We have talked about all of the underage's playing in the NHL. They are on a list. We hope he (Bulmer) does come back to play for Kelowna and then has an opportunity to go to the World Junior training camp in December to try out for the team. He doesn't have a spot, nobody has a spot on the team, they have to come to the Christmas camp on December 10th and go through the process."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Severson ties Rockets record

Damon Severson had a career night.
So did rookie Austin Ferguson.
While the second year defenceman tied a franchise record for assists in one game with five, Ferguson scored his first career goal and added an assist as the Kelowna Rockets snapped a six game winless streak with a 6-3 win Thursday night over the Vancouver Giants.
Severson's five assists ties a club record set by Colin Long, who chipped in with five helpers in a game during the 2007-2008 season.

While Severson had a game he will never forget, Ferguson had a smile on his face, and a look of relief, that won't likely vanish off his face until this weekend.
"I was happy to get my first goal. It felt exciting. I got the first one off my back so I think I am going to play a little more relaxed now."
Ferguson, a 10th round pick of the Rockets from the 2010 WHL draft, explains how the goal was scored.
"I was on the bench waiting for a change and I saw a tussle in front of our own net. I just went onto the ice and saw a three on two and tried to get in there. There was a loose puck waiting there for me and I tapped it in".
Despite what looks like a lopsided score, Rockets goaltender Adam Brown had to be razor sharp in the three goal win. The 20 year-old made some outstanding saves and was aided by four Giants shots that rang off the goal post. With any puck luck and a sub par Brown, this game would have been a whole lot closer.
While 16 year-old rookie defenceman Madison Bowey returned to the lineup Thursday night after missing the first nine games with a knee injury, 17 year-old forward Carter Rigby left the game in the second period after crashing into Giants defenceman Blake Orban at centre ice. Rigby had his bell rung on a collision that saw Orban surprisingly tossed from the game after receiving a five minute major and game misconduct for interference.
The win, the Rockets fourth of the season, featured six different goals scorers and included two point efforts from Zach Franko, Myles Bell, Spencer Main and Austin Ferguson.
The Giants have dropped three in a row and are the only team in the WHL without a single point on the road this season.
The two teams meet again Sunday in Vancouver.