- Here we are in Portland for the first of what is expected to be two exciting early season games in the Western Hockey League. How can games three and four of the regular season be exciting over the long haul of 72 games? Well, the Rockets are meeting a familiar playoff opponent tonight in the Portland Winterhawks. Nothing better to establish a rivalry than back-to-back seasons where the two teams have met in the playoffs. In fact, the Rockets season came to an end March 29th when they fell victim to the Hawks in game four of that opening round playoff series. The two teams looks vastly different this season, but my belief is the intensity will be there.
- The first of the two games at the Rose Garden will feature defenceman that have NHL scouts salivating. Portland's Seth Jones is expected to be a first round pick and Kelowna's Madison Bowey could go in the first round or maybe early in round two. Jones is the real deal. The 17 year-old rookie moves the puck well and has a 6'4 frame to match. Bowey is no slouch either. Mature for his age, it will be interesting to see how the Winnipeg resident matches up to the highly touted Jones. Scouts better watch closely tonight though. Jones won't play tomorrow as he attends an evaluation camp in Buffalo, New York.
- The Rockets are fortunate to be playing the Winterhawks early in the season. The Memorial Coliseum is undergoing a face-lift, which means the ice has been ripped out and a new floor has been installed. The new floor will also allow the ice surface to become regulation size when the Winterhawks return to the building in mid October.
- Hockey fans in Portland won't see the usually suspects as the Rockets come to town. No, McColgan. No, Bulmer. No, Brown. All three players are no longer with the team. While the Rockets have ten new faces in their line up, the Winterhawks have a new look as well. Portland has 11 new faces on their roster but their returning players still carry the mail.
- Would Ty Rattie have made the St. Louis Blues this season? He sure doesn't have much to prove in the WHL this season. In saying that, the WHL is far better off having such a tremendous talent back in their league for another year. Rattie had ten goals in last years opening round playoff series against the Rockets. Dynamic player would be an understatement.
- This road trip has allowed me to get a better feel about how the young Rockets rookies fit in with the veterans. If my brief time with them is accurate, I like the chemistry that has developed between the two groups. I don't see a huge divide between the two and the rookies are really blending in well. I especially like Rourke Chartier and Austin Glover, who know their place in the pack but aren't resembling a field mouse that won't make a peep with their older teammates.
- If you follow me on Twitter you will have noticed that the Rose Garden has some of the safety measures that other WHL arena's are required to adhere too. The seamless glass is the most impressive. By pushing on it with one hand, the glass literally shakes back and forth. That is a huge safety feature for a player who gets blasted into the glass. Now it has some give. At Prospera Place, as an example, the glass is harder than a rock and shoulders and heads hitting it can cause serious injury. I am not saying no one will get hurt along the boards in the Rose Garden, but I sure like the players chances of survival if they get pasted by an opposing player.
- We have a good show for you tonight, outside of the game itself. On the pre-game show we will hear from Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Luke Schenn who was practicing with the team earlier this week. The mother of Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Sissons will join us in the second intermission during our Pride of a Hockey Parent series.
- I love preparing for games on the road. I like to find a Starbucks (free plug) near the hotel, have my laptop in hand and do my research while sipping a latte. I am not sure NHL broadcasters follow a similar path. In fact, my bet is the research is done on a chartered jet at 38 thousand feet with their tie lightly loosened on their dress shirt. My method sounds more relaxing.
- The pre-game show is on AM 1150 at 6:30 and the play-by-play is at 7.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Playoff foes meet again
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- Wearing a Hawks jersey in the broadcast booth
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- Mail bag. Ask me a question.
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- Audio with Dylen McKinlay
- An upgrade at the overage spot
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- Whistle while you work
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- Smart decision by intelligent player
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