Tonight’s Preview: For the second straight season the Kelowna Rockets open the campaign with a stop in Kamloops against the Blazers. These two teams met in the second round of last year’s playoffs with the Blazers winning in four straight games. Last season the Rockets were 1-2-2-0 in five appearances at the Interior Savings Centre. The Rockets are opening their 23rd season in the WHL tonight and are celebrating their 19th season in Kelowna after spending four years in Tacoma, Washington. The Rockets host the Blazers tomorrow night at Prospera Place where they will raise a BC Division banner. Eight of the teams first 11 games are on home ice.
Last Year’s Facts: The Rockets finished 2nd in the Western Conference last season with a record of 52-16-3-1. The Rockets won 31 times on home ice and 21 times on the road. The 31 wins on home ice were the best in the WHL. The Rockets scored 309 goals, only 25 fewer than league leading Portland. The Rockets allowed the third fewest goals against in the league (178). Only Edmonton and Portland allowed fewer. Myles Bell led the Rockets in scoring with 38+55=93. Bell led the team in goals, assists and points. Captain Colton Sissons was named the MVP. Damon Severson was the Rockets top defenceman. The Rockets were eliminated in four games in the second round by the Kamloops Blazers after a thrilling seven games series against Seattle in round one.
Record Breaking Season: Several team records were broken last season. The club won 52 games, the most in franchise history. The previous mark was 51 in 2002-2003. The team won 23 straight games on home ice, also a Kelowna Rockets record. The franchise mark is 24 consecutive wins by the Tacoma Rockets in 1992-93. Jordon Cooke won 20 consecutive starts which is a new franchise record for goaltenders.
New Faces Emerge: The Kelowna Rockets lose only four players from last year’s roster. Captain Colton Sissons has gone on to play pro while Dylan McKinlay, JT Barnett and Cody Fowlie were overage players. The Rockets have four 20 year-old players this season in Myles Bell, MacKenzie Johnston, Jordon Cooke and Zach Franko. Twenty players from last year’s team are back for the 2013-2014 campaign. Newcomers include 17 year-old Kris Schmidli, taken in this summer’s European Draft, 17 year-old listed player Dalton Yorke and 16 year-old’s Nick Merkley and defenceman Joe Gatenby. Behind the bench, Athletic Therapist Scott Hoyer takes over from the departed Jeff Thornburn. Hoyer was a part of the Rockets 2004 Memorial Cup winning team.
This and That: The Rockets were 3 and 1 in four pre-season games. For a third straight pre-season, Tyson Baillie led the team in scoring with 4+4=8….Ryan Huska is entering his 7th season as head coach of the Kelowna Rockets. He becomes the longest serving coach in franchise history, surpassing the five seasons that Marcel Comeau was behind the bench of the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets from 1991-1992 until 1995…Huska signed a four year extension with the club this summer…Huska was named the Western Conference Coach of the Year in 2012-2013 while Rourke Chartier was named the Western Conference Scholastic Player of the Year. Zach Franko was the Western Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player while GM Bruce Hamilton was the Executive of the Year in the Western Conference…Four members of the Rockets were drafted this summer in the NHL Entry Draft. Madison Bowey in the second round by Washington, Tyrell Goulbourne in the third round by Philadelphia, Mitch Wheaton in the 5th round by Detroit and Myles Bell in the 6th round by New Jersey…Assistant Coach Dan Lambert has been named the head coach for Team West for the World Under 17 Challenge in Cape Breton Nova Scotia December 28-January 5th…The Rockets were given an honourable mention in the CHL Top 10 junior rankings…On Thursday, Rockets alumnus Jamie Benn was named the captain of the NHL’s Dallas Stars…This season marks the 10th anniversary of the Rockets winning the Memorial Cup.
Tyrell Goulbourne is five games shy of 150 for his career.
Myles Bell has 198 career points.
Jordon Cooke is two appearances shy of 100 for his career.
Damon Severson is playing in his 197 career game tonight.
Tyson Baillie is 8 points shy of 100 for his career.