Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Calgary Hitmen in the first of just two games between the two teams this season. The Rockets are in ‘Cowtown’ January 12th. These two teams met twice last night – both times in Calgary – with the Rockets earning a 4-1 win (October 28th) before falling 6-2 (December 16th.) The Hitmen haven’t played in Kelowna since February 17/12 in a 7-1 win. Alex Gogolev scored once and added two assists in the win. Madison Bowey scored the lone goal for the Rockets in the setback. The Hitmen are riding a three game winning streak at Prospera Place. The last loss for the Hitmen in the Okanagan was October 28/2009 in a 4-1 setback. Stepan Novotny scored twice in the win and Adam Brown was named the first star for making 35 saves including a penalty shot against Hitmen forward Joel Broda. The Rockets are coming off a 3-2 win Saturday night over the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets are now 2-0-0-1 on a four game home stand. After tonight’s game the Rockets open a four game road trip with back-to-back games in Victoria this Friday and Saturday before traveling north to face the Prince George Cougars the weekend after.
Calgary Contingent: The Kelowna Rockets can thank the Calgary area for supplying them with three terrific players. Myles Bell, Jesse Lees and Nick Merkley all call Calgary home. Those three have one more thing in common. All three are former first round WHL bantam picks. Cody Almond, Curt Gogol and even Tyler Myers hail from the Calgary area. Myers called DeWinton Alberta home, which is located 27 kilometers south of Calgary. Myers wasn’t born there though. The Buffalo Sabres defenceman was born in Texas before moving to Calgary where he played minor hockey there before attending Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.
This and That: Sixteen year-old rookie forward Nick Merkley was named the CHL and WHL Player of the Week from September 30th to October 6th. Merkley had six points in three games last week including back-to-back two goal games before earning two assists in a 6-3 win over the Portland Winterhawks. Merkley was the Kelowna Rockets first round pick from the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft…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….. Jordon Cooke is 27-3-0-2 at home in last 32 starts at home dating back to last season…Ryan Olsen is coming off a four point effort Wednesday against Lethbridge. Olsen had a four point game (December 27/2012) against the Blazers last season…Eighteen year-old Mitch Wheaton made his 2013-14 debut Wednesday against the Hurricanes after missing the first eight games after undergoing off season shoulder surgery. Wheaton played in 39 games last season, scoring one goal and collecting 8 points. Wheaton was a 5th round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings this summer…The Rockets first round pick from this summer’s WHL bantam draft has been named to Team Alberta for the upcoming Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup later this month in Calgary. Dube, who was born in Cochrane, Alberta, will represent his province at the tournament October 31st to November 3rd. The Rockets have no less than four prospects participating at the Under 16 Challenge. Madison Bowey’s younger brother Connor is playing for Team Manitoba while prospects Jordan Borstmayer (3rd round) and Kole Lind (4th round) are playing for Team Saskatchewan…The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in seven of the ten games…
Who’s Hot: Damon Severson is riding a career high seven game point streak. Severson has 4+6=10 in his last seven games…The Rockets have allowed one power play goal against in their last six games. That translates into one goal against in their last 26 kills…Myles Bell has goals in three of his last six games. Bell has 4 goals over that stretch….Bell has points in six of the eight games he has played this season…Riley Stadel has 7+5=12 points so far this season. Last year as a WHL rookie, Stadel had 11 points through 49 games…Zach Franko has points in nine of his first ten games. Franko has 2+10=12 over that period…Tyrell Goulbourne has six points in his last seven games…Nick Merkley has four goals in his last seven games and has six points in his last three games…Madison Bowey has 3+3=6 in his last seven games…Tyson Baillie has goals in four straight games…Ryan Olsen has 3+5=8 in his last five games…
Tyrell Goulbourne played in his 150th career game October 4th Friday vs. Portland.
Jordon Cooke played in his 100th career game September 22nd against the Kamloops Blazers.
Damon Severson played in his 200th career game October 5th vs. Portland.
Severson has 91 career assists – 9 shy of 100.
Tyson Baillie is 2 points shy of 100 for his career.