Sunday, December 15, 2013

A record tying night for the Rockets

  • No matter how the 2013-2014 regular season unfolds for the Kelowna Rocket, they will find their name in the WHL record books. A 5-3 win in Prince Albert Sunday night was the teams 12th straight on the road, which is second all time in league history along with the 1981 Portland Winterhawks, the 2008 Saskatoon Blades and the 2004 Kelowna Rockets. The WHL record is 18 straight road wins set by the Calgary Hitmen in 2000. In Sunday's road game, the Rockets dug themselves out of a two goal deficit, survived two penalty shots awarded to the Raiders, and then scored three times in the third period for their 26th victory of the season.  The two goal win not only extended the Rockets overall streak to 11 games, it improved its Eastern Conference record to 5-0-0-0 on a six game tour through the division.       
  • While the 12 game road winning streak is not a league record, it is a franchise tying record. The Rockets also won 12 straight road games during the 2003-2004 season.   
  • As mentioned, the Rockets have won 11 straight overall. Before you get to excited, the WHL record for the longest winning streak is 24 games set by the Victoria Cougars in 1981.   
  • This was an impressive effort. Playing their 5th game in six nights, the Raiders had to be licking their chops on a road weary opponent. Oddly, the Rockets appeared to get better as the game wore on, not tiring like many would expect after traveling 2482 kilometers since the trip started Sunday morning when the bus left Kelowna headed for Saskatchewan. Not only did the team come back after trailing 3-2 after 40 minutes, they manufactured three goals in the final period to move six points up on Portland for first place in the overall WHL standings. 
  • Rockets forward Ryan Olsen is lucky to have not suffered a significant injury after he was hit from behind into the corner boards in the first period. What is laughable is both referee’s didn’t call a penalty. It was a dangerous hit and you have to call it. You could hear the thud in the building. Isn't the safety of the player paramount? If the league wants to get rid of those type of hits, which they continually preach that they do, why is no call made? To add insult, a terrible penalty shot call against the Rockets came just a few minutes later. 
  • Speaking of penalty shots, it is the second time this season Jordon Cooke has faced two penalty shots in one game. In October, against Victoria, the Royals were awarded two free passes to the goaltender. Cooke is now five for five in penalty shots this season. 
  • The Rockets have scored 26 goals in the first five games of the road trip. Of those 26 goals, 13 different scorers have found the back of the net. That is a diversified attack. Myles Bell has six goals on the trip while Ryan Olsen has four. Zach Franko has three while Nick Merkley, Tyrell Goulbourne and Tyson Baillie have two each.
  • Look for Merkley's third period goal, to make the score 3-3, on the next edition of the WHL Plays of the Week. The 16 year-old picked up a puck in his skates just outside the Raiders blue-line, kicked it to his stick and skated in, made a move to his right and waited for Raiders goaltender Cole Cheveldave to open his legs before niftily tucking it five hole on the 20 year-old.        
  • It was nice to run into Kelly Guard during the second intermission. Guard, the Raiders goaltending coach, helped the Rockets to a WHL title in 2003 and a Memorial Cup championship in 2004.
  • Ex-Blades coach (now solely Blades GM) Lorne Molleken and ex-Raiders head coach Steve Young were seen sitting together at the game. Molleken relinquished his duties after the 2013 Memorial Cup while Young's contract wasn't renewed by the Raiders at the end of April.   
  • The game marked the first time MacKenzie Johnston played against his old team. Now a Prince Albert Raider, it looked odd to see Johnston wearing different colours then the familiar white, red and teal. I had a real good interview with Johnston before the game where he had a chance to publicly thank the fans of Kelowna and his billets for treating him great over his four seasons in the Okanagan. 
  • The Rockets will take a well deserved break from the rink Monday. A planned tour of the PA Penitentiary is planned and then its time for some R and R. 

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