Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open the month of October playing twelve games in 25 days. Of those twelve, eight are on opposition ice. This game against the visiting Vancouver Giants at home is rare during the month, which also includes visits from Spokane, Prince George and Brandon. Tonight’s game against the Giants is the one and only meeting between the two teams before the Christmas break. After the 25th of December, the Rockets play the Giants seven times in their final 37 regular season games. The Rockets were an impressive 5-1-2-0 in eight meetings against Vancouver last season including 4-0-0-0 at home. The Rockets out-scored the Giants 20-12 at Prospera Place. Kelowna was 1-1-2-0 in four visits to Pacific Coliseum. Following tonight’s game, the Rockets are in Prince George for games Friday and Saturday before returning home to face Spokane on Wednesday October 10th. Kelowna is coming off a 4-3 win in Portland Saturday night, snapping a nine game regular season losing streak in the “Rose City”.
This and That: Five of the eight games between the Rockets and Giants last season were decided by a single goal….These two teams made two trades prior to the start of the season. The Rockets acquired goaltender Jackson Whistle before trading away forward Tanner Moar to the G-Men a week later….Whistle was the Giants 4th round pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft…Moar was the Rockets 7th round pick in 2009….These two teams met in the 2009 WHL playoffs, with the Rockets winning in six games in the Western Conference final. The Giants had 21 more points than the Rockets that season and lost only ten times…All four of the Rockets games this season have been decided by a single goal….The Rockets were involved in a whopping 37-one goal games last season…When these two teams met in the first game of the seasonal series in 2011-2012, rookie Carter Rigby scored once, added an assist and got involved in a fight in a 6-3 win….The Rockets have surrendered 13 goals in the first four games this season. Of those 13, six have been scored even strength while seven have been scored while shorthanded…Jordon Cooke has faced 146 shots after four games, the most of any goaltender in the WHL. Cooke is seeing, on average, 36.5 shots per game….The Rockets were 3-2-0-0 after five games last season and 3-3-0-0 after six games one year ago…After winning their first three games last season, the Rockets were winless in six straight…The Rockets were 2-2-0-2 in six pre-season games, scoring 20 goals and surrendering 18 goals…Tyson Baillie led the team in pre-season scoring for a second straight season.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Myles Bell has 20-multiple point games in his WHL career. The 19 year-olds three points (2+1=3) against Portland Saturday night is the third time in his career he has registered three points in a game. Last season, Bell had four points after four games. This season he has five points (2+3=5) after four games and leads the team in scoring.
Last Year’s Facts: The Rockets finished 6th in the Western Conference last season with a record of 31-31-4-6. The Rockets won 16 games at home and 15 games on the road last season. The Rockets scored the 6th fewest goals of the 22 teams in the WHL with 217. Only Red Deer, Swift Current, Everett, Seattle and Prince George scored fewer times. For a second straight season, Shane McColgan led the team in scoring (18+46=64). Brett Bulmer led the team in goals (34) while McColgan led the team in assists (46). Bulmer was named the team’s MVP while Mitchell Chapman picked up the team’s top defenceman award.
The Rockets were eliminated in four games in the opening round by the Portland Winter Hawks.
New Faces Emerge: The Kelowna Rockets were one of the most active teams obtaining players before the puck dropped on the 2012-2013 season. The Rockets acquired two 20 year-old players in separate deals last Thursday. J.T Barnett was acquired from the Everett Silvertips off waivers while Dylen McKinlay was picked up from the Kootenay Ice for a 5th round bantam pick. Goaltender Jackson Whistle was acquired from Vancouver for a third round bantam pick. Ryan Olsen was picked up in the Shane McColgan/Jessey Astles deal.
Leaving the Nest: Cody Chikie, Adam Brown and Brett Lyon are no longer with the team. All three were 20 year-olds last season. Chikie is attending school in Lethbridge and playing with the Pronghorns while Brown is expected to spend the season in the ECHL with the Colorado Eagles. Lyon signed a contract with the Orlando Solar Bears. Shane McColgan was traded to the Saskatoon Blades along with Jessey Astles June 2nd for 18 year-old forward Ryan Olsen. Brett Bulmer will play pro hockey this season as a 20 year-old while overage forward Spencer Main retired after suffering a series of concussions. Tanner Moar, who played in 65 games as a rookie, was traded to Vancouver.
Zach Franko is two games shy of 150 for his career. This is game #149 tonight.
Dylen McKinlay played in his 250th career WHL regular season game September 22/2012
Ryan Olsen is eleven games shy of 150 for his career. This is game #140 tonight.
Myles Bell has played 193 career WHL games. This is game #194 tonight.
J.T Barnett has scored 46 career WHL goals.