Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open a four game seasonal series against the Portland Winterhawks tonight at Prospera Place. These two teams will face one another again tomorrow night before the Rockets make two appearances in Portland on December 31st and January 2nd. Last season these two teams met four times with the Winterhawks winning three of the four games. Overall the Rockets were out-scored 14-8 in the four games. The Rockets are coming off a 6-3 win in Everett Wednesday night. Nick Merkley and Madison Bowey each scored twice in the win while Jackson Whistle earned his first win of the season with a 29 save performance. The Rockets are playing their second straight game against a U.S Division based team. In total the team will play five consecutive games against American based teams, with games next week in Spokane (Tuesday) before returning to host Seattle one week from this evening.
Rockets Reduce Roster: The Kelowna Rockets made a trade with the Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday. The team sent 20 year-old defenceman MacKenzie Johnston to the Raiders for a third round bantam pick. Johnston played 223 regular season games with the Rockets after making the team as a 16 year-old during the 2009-2010 season. The Rockets are now down to a league limit of three 20 year-olds in Myles Bell, Jordon Cooke and Zach Franko.
McColgan Makes Return: The Kelowna Rockets top pick in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft was expected to return for the first time to play his old team since being dealt to the Saskatoon Blades in the summer of 2012. Now a member of the Portland Winterhawks, the 20 year-old will be a game time decision after suffering a hand injury during training this summer. McColgan has yet to play a game for the Winterhawks this season and failed to play a game against his old team (Rockets) last season when he was sent back to Saskatoon after suffering a concussion the night before in game against in Victoria Royals.
Who’s Hot: Zach Franko has points in all four games this season. Franko has 2+3=5….Jordon Cooke has stopped 79 of 86 shots so far this season and has a goals against average of 2.27…Rourke Chartier has three goals in four games. Last season it took the 17 year-old ten games to score his third goal of the season.
This and That: Jordon Cooke was 1-3-0-0 against the Winterhawks last season. Cooke was pulled in a 5-1 loss at Prospera Place on February 9th….Myles Bell had 2+1=3 in four games against the Winterhawks last season….Winterhawks forward Brendan Leipsic had 4+3=7 in four games against the Rockets last season…After four games last season the team was 1-2-1-0…The Rockets were 12-8-0-0 in 20 games against U.S Division teams last season…The opposition has opened the scoring in two of the first four games…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 three 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 for a third consecutive week….This season marks the 10th anniversary of the Rockets winning the Memorial Cup.
Tyrell Goulbourne is playing in his 150th career game tonight vs. Portland.
Myles Bell has 200 career points.
Jordon Cooke played in his 100th career game last Saturday against the Kamloops Blazers.
Damon Severson is playing in his 199 career game tonight.
Tyson Baillie is 10 points shy of 100 for his career.