Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open an Eastern Conference road trip tonight in Swift Current against the Broncos. This is the first of six games in eight nights for the BC Division leaders. These two teams will meet just once this season. Last year in Kelowna, the Rockets earned a 6-5 win. Myles Bell and Tyson Ballie each had two assists in the victory on December 5/2012. Jordon Cooke earned the win making 14 saves. The Rockets are making their first visit to the I-Plex since December 11, 2011 in a 4-3 shootout loss. Overall, the Rockets have won six straight after victories against Kamloops (twice), Vancouver, Tri City, Everett and the Kootenay Ice. The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 19-10 over that stretch. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Moose Jaw (Wednesday), Brandon (Friday), Regina (Saturday), Prince Albert (Sunday) and Saskatoon (Tuesday December 17th).
Eastern Conference Roady: The last time the Rockets were on an Eastern Conference road trip before Christmas was in 2011 when the team went 2-2-0-2. In 2009, the Rockets were 3-3-0-0. In both situations the team played six games in nine nights. In 2007, the Rockets were 3-1-0-1 but they did not play against the Broncos in Swift Current on that swing.
Cooke Nominated: Rockets goaltender Jordon Cooke has been nominated for Vaughn Goaltender of the Week. Cooke had a 2-0-0-0 record last week with an average of 1.96 and a save percentage of .932. Cooke was named the first star in a win over Vancouver and then was named the second star in a 3-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips.
Road Rash: Overall, the team has won 7 straight games on the road, having out-scored the opposition 30-15. In four of those seven road games the Rockets have allowed a single goal. Kamloops, Calgary and Saskatoon owned eight game road winning streaks last season – the longest in the WHL. The Rockets won 7 straight road games back in the 2010-2011 campaign between February 23rd and March 18th. Overall, the team has won 14 of their last 15 games.
This and That: Tonight’s game marks the first time Rockets rookie Nick Merkley has ever played against his older brother Jay Merkley of the Broncos….Broncos athletic therapist Jamie LeBlanc will join Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert as members of the staff for Team West at the Under 17’s later this month….Four of the last six road games for the Rockets have been decided by a single goal…The Rockets have been out-shot on home ice five times this season…After losing two of his first three games, Jackson Whistle has won five straight….The Rockets have played in six shootout games this season and are 4 and 2. Three of the four shootout wins have come on the road in Victoria, Prince George and Seattle…Eighteen year-old Madison Bowey was named captain of the Kelowna Rockets November 1st….Jordon Cooke was named WHL Goaltender of the Month for September/October. Cooke was 8-0-0-2 with a goals against average of 1.85…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 including back-to-back two goal games before earning two assists in a 6-3 win over the Portland Winterhawks…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 33-4-0-2 at home in last 39 starts at home dating back to last season…Two members of the Rockets were named to Team Pacific for the upcoming Under 17 World Hockey Challenge in late December in Nova Scotia. Nick Merkley and Joe Gatenby have been added to the roster. Gatenby was the team’s second round pick in 2012…These two teams have been active in making trades over the years. In October of 2007, the Rockets picked up Brady Leavold for a conditional draft pick. In January of 2009, Swift Current dealt Mark Guggenberger to the team for a 5th round bantam pick. In November of that next season, in the 2009-2010 campaign, the Rockets picked up Geordie Wudrick for Stepan Novotny and prospect Tanner Clark.
Who’s Hot: Madison Bowey had seven goals in November….Ryan Olsen has five goals in his last five games…Damon Severson is riding a four game point streak (2+3=5).…Tyson Baillie has 2+3=5 in his last five games.
Milestone Makers: Colton Heffley is playing in his 199th career game tonight – 1 shy of 200.
Zach Franko has 184 points, 16 shy of 200 for his career.
Myles Bell is playing in his 284th game tonight – 16 shy of 300.