Let's be honest with one another. We didn't expect the Kelowna Rockets to win the BC Division regular season title before the puck was officially dropped back in late September? I could come on this blog and be the media know it all and state that I knew it was going to happen but it would be a load of BS.
You know the media type I'm talking about don't you? The guy with all the answers. The guy who knew Myles Bell was capable of close to 40 goals. The media mouth piece who predicted 20 year-old Dylan McKinlay would have a career year. The guy that knew the Rockets would have no problem scoring goals even though the coaching staff were sweating bullets in June and July, not because of the Okanagan heat, but over the question on who would manufacture offense.
What we did know was the Rockets team would be slightly better than the year prior. The key word here is slightly. The Rockets traded away their top point getter to Saskatoon this summer and reining MVP Brett Bulmer moved on to pro hockey. Even starting goaltender Adam Brown, who broke two team records last season for games played and saves made, became ineligible to return to the hockey club after playing out his 20 year-old season. Those were three HUGE holes to fill.
The only sure thing heading into this season was the Rockets would be a year older on defense after taking their lumps with three rookies (Martin, Bowey, Lees) making up one of the youngest d-cores in the league in 2010-2011.
Honestly, a seven or eight win improvement would have been considering a massive step forward from the 31 victories the team earned last season.
This team wasn't mentioned with the Portland Winterhawks, Kamloops Blazers or Edmonton Oil Kings at the start of the season. Nor should they have been. Only in early November were small pockets of fans thinking the Rockets could play with the elite.
But they couldn't catch Kamloops could they? They were 15 points in the Blazers rear view mirror on November 1st. Not a chance!
Quietly, the Rockets steadily improved after winning just eight of their first 16 regular season games (8-6-1-1). When the Blazers came back down to earth after earning a point in their
first 17 games, what was considered a pipe dream all of a sudden became a
possibility that the Rockets could close the gap and raise a banner
high into the rafters at Prospera Place.
In November and December the team won 18 of 22 times and were a perfect 12-0-0-0 at home.
Maybe this team is special? What we know now, it is.
While it is the fourth BC regular season banner the team has won since the division was created in 2001-2002, the 2013 banner will have special significance. Why? It was the way in which it was won and the cast of characters that pulled it off when no one believed at the start of the season that it could indeed happen.