- Busy week last week by Kelowna Rockets standards. Maybe the soft schedule to start the season has made me soft? The team played three games in four night's which is unheard of in the first six weeks of the regular season. The Rockets have played a league low 18 games this season yet sport one of the league's best records. Just when you thought the games would come fast and furious, the team has the entire week off before hosting Medicine Hat on Saturday.
- Throw out the computer system that created this WHL schedule. It has been nothing short of stupid from a Kelowna Rockets perspective. A week between games already twice this season is crazy. The Rockets first 18 games have been played over 52 days. Talk about easing into the schedule. Oh, the crap hits the fan in December, January and February when the team plays 31 times in 64 night's. Yikes.
- Life without Colton Sissons hasn't been easy for Rockets forward Myles Bell. Sissons was a great set up man for Bell and won more battles than he lost when fighting for a loose puck. The end result was getting the puck on Bell's blade. Hello 38 goals. Bell is clearly a shooter and with no clear set up man as a line-mate, the 20 year-old's offensive totals are decent but not spectacular. There is no need to panic yet. Younger players have filled in nicely for a lack of Bell's scoring, but when the schedule heats up and those young bodies get tired with games and travel, Bell's stick will need to get hot. Bell has been held off the score sheet six times this season.
- If you wonder what Bell is going through, just ask former Blazers forward Tim Bozon. Bozon was lost without Colin Smith. Smith did the heavy lifting as a line mate and was a main reason why the Montreal Canadiens draft pick was so successful last season.
- The Rockets drew a crowd of 5,564 Saturday night against the Oil Kings and the atmosphere was clearly the best it has been this season. You could clearly hear a buzz, not dead silence during stoppages in play. Were fans having more fun? Were more people drinking? Was the game better? Whatever it was, keep it up.
- I would have never thought that a game in early November against the Oil Kings would draw a larger crowd than the home opener back in September against Kamloops when a BC Division banner was raised to the rafters. On opening night the Rockets drew a crowd of 5,384.
- Jeff Truitt told me he did not interview for the Lethbridge Hurricanes head coaching position this summer. Truitt is an Associate Coach with the Red Deer Rebels. Should he be a head coach in the WHL? Yes.
- Did you notice some of the players changing their tape from pink to white during Friday's game against the Cougars? Many found the feel of the pink tape different on their sticks so the change was made. It worked. Five unanswered goals came as the result in a 5-2 win.
- It is a clear indication that any tough guy can be fed his lunch in a fight. Victoria Royals beast Keegan Kanzig got clocked last week in a game against the Oil Kings and is out with a concussion after receiving a solid punch to the head. When two tough players elected to exchange blows, even the bigger combatant can find himself wobbling at the knee's if he gets caught with a solid punch. Ex-Portland Winterhawks enforcer Joe Mahon knows what I am talking about.
- The Rockets have allowed a league low 2.38 goals per game. The Edmonton Oil Kings are next at 2.43.
- Only three teams have lost only once at home this season. The Rockets (8-1), Swift Current (9-1) and Medicine Hat (8-1).
- The Rockets have the best penalty killing unit in the WHL at just over 90 percent. It is one of the main reasons why the team is 14-2-0-2 after 18 games. The last time the Rockets led the league in penalty killing percentage at seasons end was in 2003-2004. They also led the league in that category in 2002-2003.
- Last week WHL Commissioner Ron Robison had a chance to hear from Rockets season ticket holders during a Q an A session at Prospera Place. I thought it was interesting dialogue and something the league should consider doing in other WHL cities. Robison is a great speaker and had thoughtful answers to every query. I expected nothing less. It was a quick 76 minutes of hockey talk that allowed the fans to learn more about why the league does what it does.
- What made the Q and A sessions run smoothly was Robison's approach to the fans. He generally looked concerned and answered the questions thoroughly. The 'Commish' is not an intimidating man which makes these type of events work well.
- Robison is in his 14th season as Commissioner of the WHL. That is easy for me to remember. Robison came on board when I moved to Kelowna in 2000.
- Here are a few numbers to crunch on:
38: The Rockets are 38-4-0-2 in their last 44 regular season games at home dating back to last season.
13: 13 of rookie Nick Merkley's 19 points have been recorded on home ice this season.
1: Only once this season has plus/minus leader Cole Martin been a minus player. Martin is a +17.
10: The number of points Madison Bowey has put up on the road this season. Bowey is the team leader in that department. Damon Severson and Tyson Baillie are next with 7 road points.
15: The number of games the Rockets have left before the Christmas break.
9: The number of times the Rockets have scored 5 or more goals.
24: The number of games the Rockets will have played before finally meeting BC Division rival Vancouver.
82: Rockets defenceman have been in on 82 percent of the 77 goals the team has scored this season.