|Mitch Wheaton will play tonight vs. T-Birds|
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Seattle Thunderbirds for the first time since last season’s epic seven game opening round playoff series. The Rockets became only the second team in WHL history to come back from being down three games to none to win game seven in overtime. This is the first of four meetings between these two Western Conference rivals. The Rockets are in Kent, Washington November 19th and against January 26th before the T-Birds make their final visit to Kelowna on February 10th. Last season these two teams met four times. The Rockets were 3-1-0-0 including a convincing 8-0 victory on home ice when Jordon Cooke made 18 saves. In fact, Cooke and Jackson Whistle split the starts in the four game seasonal series. Cooke played both games at home and Whistle played both games on the road. The Rockets are coming off a 6-3 loss Tuesday night in Spokane. Myles Bell, Ryan Olsen and Tyson Baillie scored in a losing cause, the team’s first regulation loss of the season. Following tonight’s game the Rockets host Lethbridge before welcoming Prince George Saturday night.
Seventh Heaven: Do you remember what happened in the opening round of last year’s playoff series between these two teams? Six of the seven games were decided by a single goal. Five of the seven games were decided in overtime including game seven when Tyson Baillie scored the game winner. It marked only the second time ever in the WHL that a team came back from being down 3 games to none.
Top 10 Recognition: After receiving an honourable mention for three straight weeks the Kelowna Rockets cracked the CHL Top 10 rankings this week at number 6. The Rockets enter the game with a record of 5-1-0-1 after seven games and have won three of their last four.
Merkley; WHL POW: Sixteen year-old rookie forward Nick Merkley is the WHL Player of the Week. 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.
Rockets Represented Under 16’s: The Kelowna Rockets have no less than three prospects participating at the Under 16 Challenge later this month in Calgary. 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.
Who’s Hot: Myles Bell has goals in three straight games. Bell has 4 goals over that stretch….Bell has points in four of the five 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 had a six game point streak snapped Tuesday in Spokane. Franko had 2+7=9 over that period…Tyrell Goulbourne has four points in his last four games…Nick Merkley has four goals in his last four games…Madison Bowey has 2+3=5 in his last four games.
This and That: This is the 5th straight game against a U.S Division based team. The Rockets are 3-1-0-1…The Rockets are opening a four game home stand tonight. After hosting Seattle, the Rockets welcome Lethbridge Wednesday, Prince George Saturday and Calgary on Tuesday October 22nd….Myles Bell had 2+3=5 in four games against Seattle last season….Former Rockets 20 year-old JT Barnett has landed with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign….The Rockets were 12-8-0-0 in 20 games against U.S Division teams last season…The opposition has opened the scoring in five of the first seven 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…