Sunday, September 29, 2013

Royals roar back to beat Rockets

  • The Kelowna Rockets honestly didn't deserve a point in Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Victoria Royals. Goaltender Jordon Cooke was the main reason why they didn't suffer a loss in regulation time. Cooke made several solid stops, including a sensational glove hand stop on a Royals power play in overtime, sending the game to the shootout. Sure, Cooke was unable to stop all three Victoria shooters he faced, but the home team had no business being there in the first place.
  • If you think I am harsh on the teams effort, remember what head coach Ryan Huska said after the game? Huska says his team has played just two good periods in their first three games. Ouch!   
  • The Royals simply outworked the Rockets and scored the final three goals of the game for their first win in four games. Forward Ben Walker was the best player on the ice from my standpoint. The 20 year-old was always around the puck and was rewarded for his great night by scoring the game winner with a forehand deke on Cooke in the shootout.
  • Myles Bell and Damon Severson returned to the Rockets line up and their contributions were clearly evident. Bell scored once and added an assist and scored in the shootout. Playing on a line with Zach Franko and Ryan Olsen, Bell made some good things happened and was named the games second star. Severson had his moments of brilliance with quick passes and no less than three shots on goal. 
  • Bell's two points now gives him 200 for his career.  
  • What I failed to see Saturday night from the Rockets was a lot of hitting. The biggest collision came when Royals d-man Ryan Gagnon attempted to clobber Rockets forward Austin Glover at the Victoria blue line. The impact sent Gagnon fly backwards, hitting the padded stanchion at the Victoria bench. 
  • The Rockets played the game without MacKenzie Johnston. The 20 year-old was the odd man out as the team elected to dress Jordon Cooke, Zach Franko and Myles Bell.  
  • Despite the shootout loss, the Rockets are one of only three teams without a regulation loss this season. 
  • The last time the Rockets were involved in a shootout game prior to Saturday was March 6th of last season when they beat the Royals 4-3. The Rockets played in only two shootout games last season.
  • For the record, I hate the shootout.
  • Of the last seven shootout games at Prospera Place, five of them have ended in 4-3 scores.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rockets get anchor on blue line

The New Jersey Devils are sending defenceman Damon Severson back to the Kelowna Rockets for his 19 year-old season.
From all indications, Severson had a great camp with the Devils and logged 21 minutes of ice time in the three pre-season games he played.
The anchor the Rockets defensive core this season, Severson has a good shot of playing for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships in December.
With Severson's return, the Rockets now have nine d-men, which may be one to many. Mitch Wheaton remains sidelined after off season shoulder surgery but is close to returning.
Stay tuned!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Baillie finds extra motivation

If Tyson Baillie needed any extra motivation heading into his draft year, he received it Monday.
NHL Central Scouting released its preliminary rankings and the 17 year-old was left off the list.
Nothing.
No mention anywhere.
Central Scouting breaks down the prospects in three categories. An 'A' prospect is a potential first to second round pick. A 'B' prospect is a player that could go anywhere from the second to fourth round and a 'C' prospect is player who could go anywhere from the 4th to the 6th round.
You would think Baillie would, in a worst case scenario, slot into the 'C' category after scoring 26 goals in his second season in the WHL. The Fort, Saskatchewan product had 26 goals and 56 points last season, which would rank him second only behind Kootenay Ice forward Sam Reinhart, who is not only rated as an 'A' prospect but possibly the first player taken in the 2014 draft. Reinhart had 35 goals last season, which was a massive accomplishment for a Ice team that had little fire power. Baillie had more tools to work with, but if anyone was watching, they saw a pretty determined player who elevated his play in last years playoffs. That alone should have caught the attention of many.
Here is the breakdown of the 'A' rated WHL players and where Baillie fits into the mix on statistics alone: 

Sam Reinhart: Kootenay 35 goals - 'A' prospect
Tyson Baillie: Kelowna 26 goals - not rated
Leon Draisaitl; PA 21 goals - 'A' prospect
Chase DeLeo: Portland 18 goals - 'A' prospect
Jake Virtanen: Calgary 16 goals   - 'A' prospect

Rockets forward Rourke Chartier was rated as a 'C' prospect by NHL Central Scouting. The first of three lists of the top eligible players for next summers draft will be released in November.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Good start to new season

No Bell...no Severson...no Wheaton...no Rigby.
No problem.
The Kelowna Rockets proved on the opening weekend of the regular season that they are not a one trick pony. They would be a far better team with those four in the line up, but even without them, this team has the ability to win hockey games.
Back-to-back wins against the Kamloops Blazers this weekend by identical 5-2 scores didn't come without its warts, but were we expecting a flawless performance in an exercise that last 72 regular season games?
The two games featured its share of highlites though. Here are a few of them.

  • Sixteen year-old first round pick Nick Merkley scored his first career WHL goal Saturday night in a 5-2 win over the Blazers. At first it looked like line-mate Kris Schmidli had scored by his excitement after the puck went into the net. Video replay doesn't lie. Merkley was the last one to touch the puck on the goal mouth scramble.
  • Schmidli wasn't denied on the weekend though. The 17 year-old Swiss registered his first career point - an assist - on Austin Glover's third period goal Friday night.
  • Let's see....Merkley is playing with Schmidli and Glover.  MSG. Some suggest MSG is a silent killer lurking in your kitchen. Maybe this new line is a silent killer?
  • How nice was it to see the 2013 BC Division banner go high into the rafters Saturday night at Prospera  Place? It was nice to see Myles Bell in uniform for the pre-game ceremony. Without his 93 points last season, that 9 point differential between the Rockets and Blazers would have been significantly tighter.
  •  I really liked the play of Jesse  Lees and Cole Martin on the weekend. Specifically in Saturday's game, those two ramped it up with some nice defensive plays. 
  • A goalie making a spectacular glove hand save always has the crowd gasping, but how about the blocker save Jordon Cooke made in the second period? A rising shot that looks labeled for the left corner and the 20 year-old comes across and turns it aside. One word - beautiful.
  • Cooke made his 100th appearance of his career Saturday night. Adam Brown is the franchise leader with 200 appearances. Kevin Swanson is next at 167.
  • Tyson Baillie had a four point night with two goals and two assists in Saturday's 5-2 victory. It was the 17 year-old's first four point game of his career.
  •  The penalty killing unit was 9 for 9 in two games.
  • Austin Glover scored his first goal of the season Friday night. It took him 30 games to score his first of the season last year.
  • Up next, a date with the Victoria Royals next Saturday. It is really to bad we have to wait that long. Instead of playing four games in five night's or five games in seven nights later down the road, this week would have been ideal to avoid that by playing a mid week game. 
  • When was the last time the Rockets started the season 2-0-0-0? It was 2011-2012 when the Rockets beat Everett 5-4 in a shootout before winning their home opener 6-3 over Vancouver.

Friday, September 20, 2013

You ready?



Tonight’s Preview: For the second straight season the Kelowna Rockets open the campaign with a stop in Kamloops against the Blazers. These two teams met in the second round of last year’s playoffs with the Blazers winning in four straight games. Last season the Rockets were 1-2-2-0 in five appearances at the Interior Savings Centre. The Rockets are opening their 23rd season in the WHL tonight and are celebrating their 19th season in Kelowna after spending four years in Tacoma, Washington. The Rockets host the Blazers tomorrow night at Prospera Place where they will raise a BC Division banner. Eight of the teams first 11 games are on home ice.

Last Year’s Facts: The Rockets finished 2nd in the Western Conference last season with a record of 52-16-3-1. The Rockets won 31 times on home ice and 21 times on the road. The 31 wins on home ice were the best in the WHL. The Rockets scored 309 goals, only 25 fewer than league leading Portland. The Rockets allowed the third fewest goals against in the league (178). Only Edmonton and Portland allowed fewer. Myles Bell led the Rockets in scoring with 38+55=93. Bell led the team in goals, assists and points. Captain Colton Sissons was named the MVP. Damon Severson was the Rockets top defenceman. The Rockets were eliminated in four games in the second round by the Kamloops Blazers after a thrilling seven games series against Seattle in round one.   

Record Breaking Season: Several team records were broken last season. The club won 52 games, the most in franchise history. The previous mark was 51 in 2002-2003. The team won 23 straight games on home ice, also a Kelowna Rockets record. The franchise mark is 24 consecutive wins by the Tacoma Rockets in 1992-93. Jordon Cooke won 20 consecutive starts which is a new franchise record for goaltenders.

New Faces Emerge: The Kelowna Rockets lose only four players from last year’s roster. Captain Colton Sissons has gone on to play pro while Dylan McKinlay, JT Barnett and Cody Fowlie were overage players. The Rockets have four 20 year-old players this season in Myles Bell, MacKenzie Johnston, Jordon Cooke and Zach Franko. Twenty players from last year’s team are back for the 2013-2014 campaign. Newcomers include 17 year-old Kris Schmidli, taken in this summer’s European Draft, 17 year-old listed player Dalton Yorke and 16 year-old’s Nick Merkley and defenceman Joe Gatenby.  Behind the bench, Athletic Therapist Scott Hoyer takes over from the departed Jeff Thornburn. Hoyer was a part of the Rockets 2004 Memorial Cup winning team.    

This and That: The Rockets were 3 and 1 in four pre-season 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 four 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…The Rockets were given an honourable mention in the CHL Top 10 junior rankings…On Thursday, Rockets alumnus Jamie Benn was named the captain of the NHL’s Dallas Stars…This season marks the 10th anniversary of the Rockets winning the Memorial Cup.

Milestone Makers:
Tyrell Goulbourne is five games shy of 150 for his career.
Myles Bell has 198 career points.
Jordon Cooke is two appearances shy of 100 for his career.
Damon Severson is playing in his 197 career game tonight.  
Tyson Baillie is 8 points shy of 100 for his career.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bell is coming back

Myles Bell is returning to the Kelowna Rockets for his 20 year-old season.
Devils Vice President David Conte told me this afternoon the Calgary resident preformed well at training camp.
"I think he has improved daily. He has done a good job with himself physically. The experience of a new position takes time. In Kelowna, he is in very good hands"
Bell was taken in the 6th round by the Devils in this summers NHL draft and led the team in scoring this past season with 38 goals and 93 points.
Bell was acquired from the Regina Pat on September 22, 2011.
The Devils also announced Kelowna Rockets d-man Damon Severson will play in tonight's pre-season NHL game against the New York Islanders.  "We see what you see. He is a young man developing into an excellent player. He continues to grow. He is a work in progress and he's working."
Conte likes what he has seen from the Melville, Saskatchewan resident.
"We are happy with him. He has been well schooled. He has talent and is an excellent young man".

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is Damon Severson ready to hit elite status?

Tyler Myers, Josh Gorges and Shea Weber.
What do all three of them have in common?
Lots!
All three are playing in the NHL. All three were defenceman for the Kelowna Rockets and all three became dominate defenceman when they were 19.
That's where fourth year blue liner Damon Severson comes into play.
Now 19, the second round pick of the New Jersey Devils is entering the biggest season in his WHL career. Oh ya, his draft year was huge, but now is his time to become a marquee defenceman in the WHL and follow in the footsteps of those three Rockets alumni. Severson is coming off his best offensive season (10+42=52) but at this point would he be considered one of the top d-man in the entire WHL?
Does he have the tools to attain that lofty standard?
You bet he does!
Like Myers, Gorges and Weber, all three rounded into form in their 19 year-old season. Myers would play for Canada at the World Juniors as would Gorges and Weber. Myers would be named the WHL playoff MVP in his 19 year-old season while Weber, at 19, was the 2005 recipient. Gorges would go on to captain the Rockets, as a 19 year-old, to a Memorial Cup title.   
Make no mistake, Severson plays a much more skilled game than both Weber and Myers. As 19 year-old d-men, Myers had 42 point while Weber managed 41. As mentioned earlier, Severson already registered 52 points as a 18 year-old in 2012-2013. Gorges racked up 59 points in 2002-2003 in the teams first ever WHL championship.
Hockey fans in Kelowna already know that Damon Severson is a solid defender. The Melville, Saskatchewan resident was named the Rockets Defenceman of the Year in April. 
In 2013-2014, look for Severson to show the entire WHL that he is the next elite defenceman to come out of the Kelowna Rockets organization.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Things that make me go hmm....

  • Tyrell Goulbourne (pictured right) is the latest member of the Kelowna Rockets to return from an NHL training camp. Goulbourne arrives tonight in Kelowna after a 10 day stay in Philly. While the 18 year-old didn't see any pre-season action I am sure he will have many stories to share from his first NHL camp.   
  • Defenceman Madison Bowey also returns to the Rockets today after being sent back to major junior by the Washington Capitals. Like Goulbourne, Bowey didn't see any pre-season action, nor do many first year drafted players. I will be interesting to get Bowey's take on what he brings back from that NHL experience that makes him a better player this season.
  • Ryan Olsen had a dream come true Sunday when he suited up for the Winnipeg Jets in an exhibition game against Ottawa. While Olsen saw playing time at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton while wearing a Jets jersey, Sunday's game was his first experience of playing against NHL calibre players like Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson.
  • It will be interesting to see who the New Jersey Devils have in the line up tonight when they open the pre-season against the New York Rangers. You would think Damon Severson, a second round pick of the Devils from two years ago, finds himself playing one game? It will be interesting to see if Myles Bell plays either against the Rangers or Islanders on Thursday.
  • We will learn later this week on who will take over the captaincy vacated by Colton Sissons. If Bell is returned before Friday's opening game against Kamloops, we should have our answer when he skates onto Interior Savings Centre ice. Bell is the odds on favourite, I would think to wear the 'C'. But if the Devils send Bell down to the AHL, which they can do, anointing him as captain will have to be put on  hold.
  • I had to chuckle last week at the CHL Top 10 rankings. The Kootenay Ice are in the top ten and the Kelowna Rockets aren't? It must be the same voting panel that was used when picking the WHL coach of the year last season.  Don't get me wrong, Ice coach Ryan McGill did a whale of a job with his team last season to rally them into the 8th and final playoff spot in the East, but the difference between the Rockets and Ice in terms of wins was 17 and in points it was 36.          
  • Moving on, the Rockets will dress five rookies this season. Sixteen year-old Nick Merkley is the youngest of the bunch. Merkley is 8 days younger than 16 year-old rookie d-man Joe Gatenby.
  • How odd is it that the Rockets open the regular season this Friday in the same arena against the same team that ended their season last year? It will have been 163 days since the Rockets fell 4-3 in overtime to the Blazers in game four of the Western Conference semi final.
  • The two undefeated teams in the WHL pre-season were Everett and Prince George. The Tips were 7 and 0. The Cougars were an impressive 5 and 0.
  • The Rockets raise another BC Division banner up into the rafters Saturday night. It's the teams second in three seasons and 4th BC Division title overall.
  • In four of the Rockets last six games in Kamloops, the game has gone into overtime. In all four games the Rockets have failed to taste the thrill of victory. 
  • The Rockets have dropped five straight overtime games in Kamloops. Hard to believe but the last time the Rockets won in overtime at ISC was in 2009, in post season when Cody Almond scored in game one of round one in a 3-2 victory. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ex-Rockets goalie heads to CHL expansion franchise

A former member of the Kelowna Rockets will play this season with the Central Hockey League's newest franchise.

Kristofer Westblom will join the Brampton Beasts, an expansion team in the CHL which is affiliated with the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Storm moved into Brampton after the city lost its Ontario Hockey League franchise to North Bay at the end of last season.

Brampton is the first Canadian city to ever have a team in the Central League, which is three levels below the NHL.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Predicting big year for Baillie




Don't let the picture on the right fool you.
Tyson Baillie has a lot to smile about heading into his third season in the WHL.
Because of a late birthday, Baillie has the luxury of entering his draft year with 139 regular season WHL games under his belt and has 40 goals to show for it.
The 17 year-old scored 26 times last season.
Those numbers could have been even better considering the third round bantam draft pick of the Rockets got off to a slow start last season with four goals in his first 14 games.

Baillie is a player, a big time player. Need proof? You may want to look back to last years playoffs were he starred on a team that was hampered by injury. Baillie didn't suck on his thumb and pout about that captain Colton Sissons, Mitch Wheaton, J.T Barnett and Carter Rigby were unavailable going into an opening round playoff series with Seattle. When Jesse Lees and MacKenzie Johnston were also injured in that first round seven game marathon, which would have taken the air out of any teams sails, Baillie ramped up his game and scored three times in the game seven series clincher.
Baillie was a horse in that series and showed in round two against Kamloops (four goals in four games) that it was no fluke. 
Did you know that in Baillie`s final 19 games last season (final 10 in regular season and 9 in playoffs) Baillie scored 14 times! He got better as the stakes got higher. 

Well liked among his teammates, I can't see why he wouldn't be considered a captain down the road. To be honest, I think he would be a good pick now, but hey, what do I know?
Don't answer that! 
I predict a big season from Baillie. The good news is he is just getting started.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rockets goalie defends more than just the goal

From stopping hockey pucks to defending clients accused of murder.  

A former Kelowna Rockets goaltender is involved in a high profile first degree murder trial underway in a Kelowna courtroom this week.

One of the defense lawyers for Joelon Verma is 34 year-old Jordan Watt.


Verma is accused in the murder of Brittany Irving after a drug transaction in April of 2010.

Watt played parts of two seasons with the Kelowna Rockets after earning a roster spot on a free agent tryout.

The North Delta resident would eventually be traded to the Red Deer Rebels before attending the University of Ottawa where he would earn his law degree and follow in the footsteps of his father Alexander.     

Watt is now based in Victoria.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rockets close out pre-season with win

  • The Rockets ended the pre-season portion of the schedule Saturday night with a convincing 6-1 win over the visiting Vancouver Giants. Rourke Chartier and Tyson Baillie each had a goal and two assists while goaltender Jackson Whistle made 24 of 25 saves in the win. The Rockets were 3 for 10 on the power play and finish the exhibition schedule with a 3 and 1 record.
  • Tyson Baillie had 4+4=8 in four games, leading the team in scoring for a third consecutive pre-season. A 26 goal man from last season, Baillie is poised to put up some impressive numbers in his third season in the WHL. To think he is still 17. Baillie won't turn 18 until November 16th.
  • Rourke Chartier had a strong pre-season with 7 points in four games. Last night he played with a full shield after being roughed up against Kamloops the night before.
  • It was nice to see Henrik Nyberg find some offensive success in pre-season. Nyberg, now 19, scored twice in pre-season. While providing energy on the fore check, I am sure the coaches would like to see his name on the score sheet a few more times this season. As an older player, he has to make a greater contribution.
  • I again like Dalton Yorke (pictured right) on the Rockets blue line. The most physical d-man the Rockets iced last night, Yorke isn't afraid to make an opposition forward pay for carrying the puck. So many defenceman learn to angle guys off, which is good, but it sure is nice to see someone attempt to paste an opponent in open ice or along the boards the old fashioned way.
  • Jackson Whistle was steady in goal. Positionally sound is the name of his game and getting his big body in front of pucks works well for the 18 year-old. Of the two goaltenders, Payton Lee of the Vancouver Giants was called upon more to make bigger saves. The only shot that got by Whistle was a long range clear-in that hit the glass behind the net, then bounced off Whistle's back and into the goal. 
  • It was my first look at Tyler Benson. The first player taken in the 2013 WHL bantam draft had poise with the puck and made solid, smart decisions. Benson isn't the type of player that carries the puck for extended periods of time and makes a series of sensational moves in an effort to score. Like all good goal scorers though, he is often in a position to create a good scoring opportunity for himself or a teammate.
  • Both teams were without several significant players who are attending NHL training camps. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rockets notes - quotes and anecdotes

    • Make some noise! That is what Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton wants to see at Prospera Place this season. Hockey fans in Kelowna, regarded as some of the best in the WHL according to the annual 'Best of the West Poll' by the Tri City Herald, are often slow to act when it comes to making noise. Many suggest they are spoiled by so many years of great hockey and winning seasons that they are a tough group to impress. Hamilton says his marketing department has to change up the 'game day' presentation. While Hamilton wants a more interactive crowd this season he realizes fans in Kelowna are at the arena to - as he put it - see the game not a bunch of fireworks.  
    • Cole Linaker wants to score more goals. What forward doesn't want to do that? But the Edmonton resident says with an additional 12 pounds he packed on this off season, he should be stronger in the corners and in front of the net. Linaker, who rid himself of braces this summer, wants to carry his strong play from last years playoffs into this season with the loss of graduating forwards JT Barnett, Dylen McKinlay, Cody Fowlie and Colton Sissons.  
    • Rookie d-man Dalton Yorke is fighting for a spot on the Rockets defensive core this season, but the organization isn't ruling out playing him at forward. Director of Player Personnel Lorne Frey says Yorke would be a good insurance policy if he can play both positions. Last season the Rockets were thin on the blue line with injuries to MacKenzie Johnston and Mitch Wheaton. If they have Yorke as a forward and do get into injury trouble, the 17 year-old can make the smooth transition back to 'd'.
    • The sales team at AM 1150 had nothing but good things to say when they listened to a special guest make a presentation to the staff this week. Rockets head coach Ryan Huska shared some thoughts about team work that can apply in the sporting world but also in the day-to-day work world. Coach Huska left an impression on the sales staff during a break from his regular duties.
    • I sure like the four pre-season games scheduled for the Rockets this year. Last season they played six exhibition games, which in my opinion is way to many. Regardless of  the number of battles in training camp for a position on a particular WHL team, four games should be an ample amount of time to find out who can play and who can't.       
    •  For those of you wondering, Gord McGarva is indeed back for his 5th season as colour commentator. McGarva has spent the entire summer overseas in Scotland where he has perfected the wearing of a kilt.
    • Tyrell Goulbourne is down in Philadephia at Flyers camp but I would be surprised if he skates with the team. I anticipate Flyers medical staff looking at the Edmonton products hand after undergoing surgery on it a couple of weeks ago. Goulbourne didn't play in an pre-season games before heading to 'Philly' on Wednesday.  Goulbourne is a 3rd rounder of the Flyers.
    • I would be surprised if Mitch Wheaton attends Detroit Red Wings camp. It is well documented that Wheaton underwent off-season shoulder surgery.  Wheaton was taken in the 5th round of this summers NHL draft.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Celebrating 10th anniversary of 2004 Memorial Cup

video
Here is a sample of a feature we are running in the 2nd intermission of our Kelowna Rockets broadcasts on AM 1150 this season. We are dedicating a feature looking back at the 10th anniversary of the franchise winning the 2004 Memorial Cup.

Linaker and Rockets 2010 draft class about to make noise!

Can Cole Linaker come into his own in his second full season in the WHL?
The Edmonton, Alberta product showed last season that with increased ice time, specifically in playoffs, he can not only bring energy to the team but he is able to sprinkle in some offense as well.
With injuries to J.T Barnett, Carter Rigby and Colton Sissons heading into the 2013 playoffs, Linaker took on a larger role and frankly prospered under the increased workload.
In 11 playoff games last season, the likable Linaker scored three goals and collected five assists, including a goal and an assist in a crucial game four series against Kamloops in the Western Conference semi final.
No bad for a fourth line player who has just three goals in 43 regular season games.
The 6th round bantam pick from four years ago, Linaker isn't going to put up massive numbers in the WHL.
In saying that, is 20 goals in the next two years out of the question for a player who is responsible in his own zone, takes pride in his work at the face-off circle and provides hustle on the penalty killing unit?
I don't think its to far off the mark.
If Linaker develops into the player the scouting staff envisioned, the 2010 bantam draft may go down as one of the best ever.
The Rockets have five players from that draft making significant contributions, led by Jesse Lees, Madison Bowey, Tyson Baillie, Linaker and Mitch Wheaton. That group of 18 year-old's has yet to really mature.
The good news is the best is yet to come!

(Photo of Linaker courtesy of Shoot the Breeze Photography)