- Three members of the Kelowna Rockets won't be returning to Kelowna after the Christmas break. Sixteen year-old's Riley Stadel, Austin Glover and Rourke Chartier are headed to Quebec for the start of the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. The tournament begins December 29th and wraps up January 4th with the gold medal game. Stadel will play for Team Pacific while Glover and Chartier are teammates on Team West.
- The little guy pictured on the right is Carter Rigby. A little smaller, but enthusiastic to play the game. It has been a slow start for the 18 year-old forward, who is looking to a strong second half. Rigby had 11 goals after Christmas last season, so it is anticipated that the best is yet to come.
- Second year forward Tyson Baillie is enjoying playing on a line with 20 year-old's Dylen McKinlay and Cody Fowlie. Baillie had four goals on a recent Central Division road trip playing with those two players. "It's good. They are strong players. They don't get knocked off the puck that easy. They make good plays and they are good all-around players both offensively and defensively." Baillie's next game - December 27th - will be the 100th of his WHL career.
- Zach Franko, welcome back. After a rough 18 year-old season, the now 19 year-old is playing as dynamic a game as he did when he came on the scene as a 17 year-old rookie. Franko has 36 points this season heading into the Christmas break, that is 20 points more than the six goals and 16 points he put up at the same time last season.
- It was nice to spend some time with Red Deer Rebels assistant coach Jeff Truitt on a recent swing through Central Alberta. Truitt has come full circle, as an assistant coach with the Rockets, a few seasons in the American Hockey League as a head and assistant coach and now back to Red Deer as an assistant to Brent Sutter. Has Truitt changed his coaching philosophy since winning a league title with the Rockets in 2005? "Probably a lot more patient", Truitt admitted. I think it comes with maturity and perhaps the ability to adjust to things and sometimes just letting the players work themselves through it and grow from within". Truitt will spend the Christmas break with his wife and two children in Lethbridge.
- Who is the only Rockets player to double his goal total from last season? Cole Martin has two goals this season after scoring once in his rookie season. "I'm not going to sit here and say my goals are nice, bar down goals, but I just try to put them on net when its tied or we are a goal down and hopefully it finds its way in". Martin has three career goals, which includes one in the playoffs against the Portland Winterhawks.
- Two Kelowna Rockets prospects will be participating in the Mac's Midget Hockey tournament at Christmas. Nick Merkley and his Calgary based team will compete along with Joe Gatenby and the Okanagan Rockets. Merkley was the Rockets first round pick in this summers bantam draft while Gatenby was picked in the second round.
- As I mentioned earlier this week, defenceman Damon Severson took his game to a new level on this recently Central Division road trip with 8 points in five games. Severson explains how he is maturing both on and off the ice. "That's what the Devils want from me is maturing every day, getting better and becoming a pro. That's what I've been trying to work on and trying to lead by example." Severson had 10 points in his first 26 games this season. As mentioned, in his last five games he has 8 points (2+6=8).
- This will be my last blog posting before Christmas. Have a great couple of days enjoying family and friends and we will see you back at Prospera Place on December 27th. Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by for a quick visit.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
News, quotes and anecdotes
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- Game notes vs. Tips
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