Tonight’s Preview: Welcome to the second round of the WHL playoffs. The Rockets are hosting the Kamloops Blazers in game one of a best of seven series against the top two teams in the BC Division during the regular season. The Rockets managed 9 more points to win the regular season title. Game one is tonight with game two tomorrow night at Prospera Place. Games three and four are set for Kamloops this Tuesday and Wednesday night. The Rockets are coming off a seven game series win over Seattle while the Blazers disposed of the Victoria Royals in six games.
Playoff History Lesson: These two teams are meeting in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 when the Rockets eliminated the Blazers in the opening round in four games. These two teams also met in the 2002 playoffs, again in the first round, with the Rockets prevailing in four short games. The last time the Blazers beat the Rockets in the playoffs was in 1999 when they used 6 games in an opening round playoff series victory. These two teams have never met outside of a first round match up. Even as the Tacoma Rockets in 1992, the Blazers won the series in four games in the opening round.
Seasonal Series Breakdown: The Rockets and Blazers met 10 times this season. The Rockets will say they were 4-4-2-0 while the Blazers would suggest they were 6-4-0-0. The truth is, two of the Blazers wins came in overtime and five of the ten games were decided by a single goal.
Seasonal Series Scoring:
Periods: 1 2 3 OT Total
Rockets: 7 16 7 0 30
Blazers: 9 9 11 2 31
*The Rockets power play was just 4 for 36 (11%) while the Blazers were 11 for 44 (25%) with the extra man. The Blazers also out-shot the Rockets in seven of the ten games.
Round One Recap: The Rockets became only the second team in WHL history to come back from a 0-3 deficit to beat the Seattle Thunderbirds in 7 games. Five of the seven games went into overtime and six of the seven games were decided by a single goal. Tyson Baillie led the team with 7 goals and 12 points. The Rockets did not allow a power play goal in the series.
This and That: The Rockets scored the opening goal in six of the seven games against the T-Birds…The Rockets won four games in the seasonal series against the Blazers, with three of those wins coming at Prospera Place…Tyson Baillie is riding a five game point streak (6+4=10)…Baillie scored twice against the Blazers during the regular season, with both coming in Kamloops…Zach Franko had 3+9=12 in the seasonal series with the Blazers… Franko had a season high five points (2+3=5) against the Blazers December 27th…. Myles Bell had 6+4=10 in ten games in the seasonal series with the Blazers…Nick Merkley earned his first career WHL point, an assist, in a game six win….Tyson Baillie has 7+7=14 in 11 career playoff games… The 17 year-old leads the team in power play goals with four….Damon Severson had a point in five of the seven games in the opening series against Seattle….Since re-locating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Rockets have played in 184 playoff games.
Rockets regular season to remember: The 2012-2013 edition of the Kelowna Rockets recorded a franchise high 52 wins this season. That broke the old mark of 51 set back in the 2002-2003 season. The Rockets won the BC Division regular season title and placed second overall in the WHL standings behind only Portland. The Rockets scored the second most goals in the league (309) and allowed the third fewest goals against (178) behind Edmonton and Portland. The Rockets had 14 players that scored 10 or more goals and 16 players with 20 or more points. The Rockets were 31-5-0-0 at home this season and tied a franchise record for consecutive wins (23) on home ice.
Rockets award winners: Captain Colton Sissons picked up two awards at the teams year end awards banquet March 17/13. Sissons was named the MVP and Top Defensive Forward. Rourke Chartier was the rookie of the year and scholastic player of the year while Damon Severson was the top defenceman. Tyson Baillie was voted the most improved while Tyrell Goulbourne picked up the unsung hero award. Myles Bell collected 93 points this season and was named the team’s top scorer.
Most Wins in Franchise History:
2012-2013: 52 - ?
2002-2003: 51 – WHL Champions
2008-2009: 47 – WHL Champions
2003-2004: 47 – Memorial Cup Champions
2005-2006: 46 – Eliminated 2nd round
2004-2005: 45 – WHL Champions
1992-1993: 45 – Eliminated in 7 games in rd one