Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first of two visits to Prospera Place this season. The Hurricanes make a return visit January 25th. The Rockets make one appearance in Lethbridge this season on January 10th. These two teams met twice last season with the Rockets earning a 3-1 win (December 12th) at the Enmax Centre. Carter Rigby, Colton Heffley and JT Barnett scored in the two goal win. Jordon Cooke made 20 saves. Then on March 2nd the Rockets earned a 7-1 win. Tyrell Goulbourne scored four goals in the victory. Jackson Whistle made 25 saves. Following tonight’s game the Rockets host Prince George Saturday before welcoming the Calgary Hitmen next Tuesday. The Rockets are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to Seattle on Friday.
Wheaton; Welcome Back: Eighteen year-old Mitch Wheaton makes his 2013-14 debut tonight 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.
Dube Alberta Bound: The Kelowna 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 Under 16’s is set for October 31st to November 3rd in Calgary.
Top 10 Recognition: After receiving an honourable mention for three straight weeks the Kelowna Rockets cracked the CHL Top 10 rankings last week at number 6. The Rockets enter the game with a record of 5-1-0-2 after eight games and have won three of their last five.
Merkley; WHL POW: 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 Saturday night. Merkley was the Kelowna Rockets first round pick from the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.
Who’s Hot: The Rockets have not allowed a power play goal against in their last four games. That is a streak of 19 consecutive kills…Myles Bell has goals in three of his last four games. Bell has 4 goals over that stretch….Bell has points in five of the six games he has played this season…Riley Stadel has 4+3=7 points so far this season. Last year as a WHL rookie, Stadel had 11 points through 49 games…Zach Franko has points in seven of his last eight games. Franko had 2+8=10 over that period…Tyrell Goulbourne has four points in his last five games…Nick Merkley has four goals in his last five games…Madison Bowey has 3+3=6 in his last five games.
This and That: The Rockets were 9-2-0-1 in 12 games against Central Division opponents last season….Rockets have carried a 3-1 lead into the third period twice this season and have lost both games in a shootout. The Rockets suffered a 4-3 shootout loss at home September 28th to Victoria after leading 3-1 after 40 minutes…The Rockets have averaged 40 shots on net in their last four games…The Rockets just completed five straight games against US based teams. The Rockets were 3-1-0-1 over that period…The opposition has opened the scoring in four of the first eight games…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….. Nick Merkley and Myles Bell leads the team in goals (5)….Tyson Baillie and Zach Franko lead the team in assists (8)….Madison Bowey leads the team in penalty minutes (20)…Riley Stadel leads the team in fighting majors (2)….Tyson Baillie leads the team in +/- with a +7…Jordon Cooke’s last regulation loss was last season, March 3rd in a 3-0 setback in Kamloops…Cooke’s last loss at home in regulation time was February 16th in a 3-1 loss to the Blazers…Cooke is 26-3-0-2 at home in last 31 starts at home dating back to last season.