Kyle Beach Interview

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cooke: A 4th round pick that hit the bullseye



Is Jordon Cooke the best goaltender the Kelowna Rockets have ever drafted? Without hesitation, the answer is yes. Taken in the fourth round of the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, 79th overall, Cooke is the highest drafted goaltender by the organization since Josh Lepp was taken 4th overall in 2000.  Lepp never came close to elite status and will be considered a first round failure. It happens. Every team has a similar story. You have to think Josh Lepp’s lack of success may have scared the organization off from selecting a goalie with that coveted first round pick? They haven’t come close to taking a goalie that high in 12 subsequent drafts. Do you blame them? Whether it was pure luck or a calculated move, nabbing Cooke in the 4th round was not only gutsy for the Rockets scouts, who may have felt they got burned in the past, but it will now go down as the best drafted player Lorne Frey and his crew have selected at that critical position.
Now 20, Cooke boasts the best goals against average in the WHL. A 1.85 average, Cooke’s record reflects the team’s success. A personal 8-0-0-2 mark, Cooke was instrumental in back-to-back wins in Victoria on the weekend.
In a 4-1 win Friday night, Cooke had to make two penalty shot saves in the teams’ 8th win of the season and then was named the first star in a 2-1 shootout victory one night later. Over the weekend, Cooke stopped 61 of 63 shots he faced.  Those numbers only add to the success he has had in the month of October.   In seven starts, Cooke is 6-0-0-1, with a glowing goals against average of 1.67 and a save percentage of .947. Those numbers are one of many reasons why the Kelowna Rockets sit atop the BC Division standings with 9 wins and only two regulation losses after 13 games.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rockets spoil Royals record setter

Jordon Cooke stellar in 4-1 win vs. Royals
  • The Victoria Royals had plans of setting a new franchise record for consecutive wins on home ice at six. The Kelowna Rockets had other ideas. Tyrell Goulbourne scored once and added an assist leading the visitors to a 4-1 win while Jordon Cooke was steady making 28 saves including a pair of penalty shot stops. The win was the Rockets 8th of the season and moved them into a tie with the Royals for first place in the BC Division. Both teams now have 18 points. 
  • The Rockets opening the scoring after a controversial no goal at the other end of the ice. Rookie Tyler Soy cuts towards the net, makes contact with Cooke, and the puck enters the net before it comes off its pegs. The call on the ice was no goal. The reason? Soy made contact with Cooke, pushing him backwards which did not allow him to make the save. The fans in the building weren't buying it with repeated replays of the goal on the massive video screen at Memorial Arena. Regardless, the goal did not stand.
  • Less than 20 seconds after play resumed following the non-goal, Cole Linaker would find the back of the net to open the scoring. If the Royals fans weren't cranky after the no-goal, their hatred increased significantly for the officiating crew after Linaker lit the lamp for a 1-0 Rockets lead.       
  • I can't remember the last time two penalty shots were called against the Rockets but it happened Friday night. Leading Royals point getter Logan Nelson couldn't find the back of the net when the score was 2-0 and then Luke Harrison couldn't beat Cooke when he was awarded a free pass to the net in the third period when the Rockets had a 3-1 lead. Those stops were massive in the big picture. If Victoria scores, in both incidents, it is a one goal game.   
  • The Royals are now 5 and 4 on home ice this season while the Rockets are 3 and 1 on the road. The only blemish is a loss in Spokane.
  • It was nice to see two veterans get out of mini goal scoring slumps. Myles Bell scored the teams third goal snapping a four game goal scoring drought. Zach Franko scored the fourth goal on a tremendous feed from Tyson Baillie. It was Franko's first goal in eight games.
  • Ryan Olsen has points in six of his last seven games but was robbed in the third period of a sure goal by a great glove hand save by Royals goaltender Patrik Polivka.
  • Nick Merkley was terrific last night. No points for the 16 year-old but his battle level is extremely high. What I like about Merkley is his battle level for pucks in his own end is as high as it is in the offensive zone.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rockets face Royals game notes



Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open a four game road trip tonight in Victoria against the Royals. These two teams meet again tomorrow night before the Rockets make a stop in Prince George for back-to-back games next weekend. This is the second of eight meetings between the Rockets and Royals. These two teams met September 28th in Kelowna with the Royals earning a 4-3 shootout win. After games tonight and tomorrow, the Royals return the visit November 20th. The Rockets make a return visit to the ‘Island’ for games January 17th and 18th. The Rockets were 3-1-0-0 in four games at Prospera Centre last season, out-scoring the Royals 21-9. The only loss was a 3-2 setback. Over the last two season – which accounts for eight games – the Rockets are 5-2-0-1 in Victoria dating back to the start of the 2011-2012 campaign.

Bell likes Royal Reception: Kelowna Rockets 20 year-old Myles Bell must like playing in Victoria. Bell had five goals against the Royals last season including 3+5=8 in four games in Victoria in 2012-2013. The season prior (2011-2012), Bell had 4+3=7 in four games in Victoria. Bell has gone four games without a goal. Last season Bell went scoreless for six games – three separate times.       
This and That: The Rockets were booted out of the CHL Top 10 rankings this week. Last week the team was number 9….The Rockets have scored 47 goals after eleven games this season. Last season the Rockets scored 37 goals after eleven games. That is 10 more goals scored than at this point last season….The Rockets have allowed 30 goals against after eleven games this season. Last season the Rockets allowed 38 goals after eleven games, or eight more goals than this season….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 last week including back-to-back two goal games before earning two assists in a 6-3 win over the Portland Winterhawks. Merkley was the Kelowna Rockets first round pick from the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft…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 28-3-0-2 at home in last 33 starts at home dating back to last season…The Rockets first round pick from this summer’s WHL bantam draft has been named to Team Alberta for the upcoming Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup later this month in Calgary. Dube, who was born in Cochrane, Alberta, will represent his province at the tournament October 31st to November 3rd. The Rockets have no less than four prospects participating at the Under 16 Challenge. 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 Rockets have out-shot the opposition in eight of the eleven games…Riley Stadel will not play tonight as he undergoes minor corrective surgery. The defenceman will be back in the line up next weekend against Prince George. 

Who’s Hot: Damon Severson had his career high seven game point streak snapped Tuesday night against the Calgary Hitmen. Severson had 4+6=10 over that stretch….The Rockets have allowed one power play goal against in their last seven games. That translates into one goal against in their last 30 kills…Riley Stadel has 7+5=12 points so far this season. Last year as a WHL rookie, Stadel had 11 points through 49 games…Zach Franko has points in nine of his first eleven games. Franko has 2+10=12 over that period…Tyrell Goulbourne has six points in his last eight games…Nick Merkley has four goals in his last eight games and has six points in his last four games…Madison Bowey has 3+3=6 in his last seven games…Tyson Baillie has goals in four of his last five games…Ryan Olsen has 3+6=9 in his last six games…

Milestone Makers:
Severson has 91 career assists – 9 shy of 100.
Tyson Baillie is 2 points shy of 100 for his career.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The one that got away

  • They had the game in their grasp but they let it slip away. The Kelowna Rockets came on strong in the final 40 minutes but ending up surrendering the game winning goal with 65 seconds left in the third period in a 2-1 loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen. While the visitors were the better team in the first period, dominating the territorial play, the Rockets regrouped and out-shot the Hitmen 35-14 the rest of the way. Giving up the game winner was a tough pill to swallow when the Rockets, in a worst case scenario, should have left the building with no less than a point and probably deserved two.
  • One of the main reasons why the Rockets suffered their first regulation loss at home this season was the play of Hitmen goaltender Chris Driedger. Lulled to sleep in the first period by facing only four shots, the veteran goaltender made several solid stops including a point blank chance against leading scorer Tyson Baillie in the second period and then a solid save on Ryan Olsen in the third period. Driedger was full marks for being named the first star. Without him the Hitmen would have started the BC Division road trip with a loss.        
  • No star in the building, I thought Ryan Olsen had a really solid game. Olsen was physical, was shooting the puck from close range and arguably played his best game of the season. I liked the fact he was rewarded with taking two key face-offs in the Hitmen zone in an effort to find the tying goal after the Hitmen took a late 2-1 lead. Speaking of  19 year old's, I thought Henrik Nyberg was more involved physically, which too was a good sign. That said, he still needs to be better. 
  • Jackon Whistle received a rare home start and had a relatively easy evening. As mentioned earlier, despite spending a good portion of the first period in their own zone, the Rockets didn't surrender many quality scoring chances against. The Hitmen threatened the Rockets with their speed and buzzed around the offensive zone but honestly didn't get much accomplished. At the end of the period the shots were 7-4 for Calgary.
  • Rookie Justin Kirkland found himself playing with Myles Bell and Zach Franko and the line worked well. Kirkland hit a goal post on a nice pass from Bell in the second period and then scored a shorthanded goal on a miscue at the Hitmen blue line to tie the game at one.
  • Just too casual. The Rockets surrender the opening goal of the game after losing the puck behind their own net while enjoying a power play. Hitmen forward Elliott Peterson willed the puck into the net after taking not one....not two....but three swipes at it before it beat Whistle. It was a gift goal that you can't surrender at any time, especially against an elite team like Calgary where goals at the other end of the ice are likely hard to come by.
  • The game winner was also the result of a bad clearing attempt. It was a comedy of errors when  Rourke Chartier is unable to clear the puck, defenceman Mitch Wheaton breaks a stick on the first of two goal mouth scrambles and then Jackson Whistle is down on his belly when the second goal mouth scramble ensues and the puck enters the net. It was an ugly shift at a bad time in the game. 
  • With the game tied at one, the Rockets could have been granted a power play late in the game but the officials elected to put the whistle away in an effort to allow the two teams to decide it. The biggest infraction that wasn't called was a hit Rourke Chartier received inside the Hitmen zone along the side boards. The non-call doesn't agitate me to a great degree considering the game was relatively clean and the two teams were showing off their abilities in the third period by skating end-to-end for long stretches without a whistle. Calgary forward Calder Brooks is also hooked when he attempts to fire the puck into the open net with the Rockets threatening to tie the game. Again, no call on the play and the two referee's put their whistles in their pockets. The non-call resulted in one more quality chance with just seconds on the clock when Zach Franko cuts around a Hitmen defenceman and just missed Ryan Olsen, who is going hard towards the net.
  • Lots of positives to take out of the game. A great adjustment by the Rockets after a not so good opening period. Shutting down the WHL's top power play in four chances should be noted. I think the Rockets played a determined game through the final 40 minutes and took it to the Hitmen. The best team in the Eastern Conference will leave Kelowna today knowing full well the home team deserved better.    

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rockets game notes vs. Hitmen



Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Calgary Hitmen in the first of just two games between the two teams this season. The Rockets are in ‘Cowtown’ January 12th. These two teams met twice last night – both times in Calgary – with the Rockets earning a 4-1 win (October 28th) before falling 6-2 (December 16th.) The Hitmen haven’t played in Kelowna since February 17/12 in a 7-1 win. Alex Gogolev scored once and added two assists in the win. Madison Bowey scored the lone goal for the Rockets in the setback. The Hitmen are riding a three game winning streak at Prospera Place. The last loss for the Hitmen in the Okanagan was October 28/2009 in a 4-1 setback. Stepan Novotny scored twice in the win and Adam Brown was named the first star for making 35 saves including a penalty shot against Hitmen forward Joel Broda. The Rockets are coming off a 3-2 win Saturday night over the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets are now 2-0-0-1 on a four game home stand. After tonight’s game the Rockets open a four game road trip with back-to-back games in Victoria this Friday and Saturday before traveling north to face the Prince George Cougars the weekend after.               

Calgary Contingent: The Kelowna Rockets can thank the Calgary area for supplying them with three terrific players. Myles Bell, Jesse Lees and Nick Merkley all call Calgary home. Those three have one more thing in common. All three are former first round WHL bantam picks. Cody Almond, Curt Gogol and even Tyler Myers hail from the Calgary area. Myers called DeWinton Alberta home, which is located 27 kilometers south of Calgary. Myers wasn’t born there though. The Buffalo Sabres defenceman was born in Texas before moving to Calgary where he played minor hockey there before attending Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.  
   
This and That: 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 last week including back-to-back two goal games before earning two assists in a 6-3 win over the Portland Winterhawks. Merkley was the Kelowna Rockets first round pick from the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft…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 27-3-0-2 at home in last 32 starts at home dating back to last season…Ryan Olsen is coming off a four point effort Wednesday against Lethbridge. Olsen had a four point game (December 27/2012) against the Blazers last season…Eighteen year-old Mitch Wheaton made his 2013-14 debut Wednesday against the Hurricanes after missing the first eight games after undergoing off season shoulder surgery. Wheaton played in 39 games last season, scoring one goal and collecting 8 points. Wheaton was a 5th round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings this summer…The Rockets first round pick from this summer’s WHL bantam draft has been named to Team Alberta for the upcoming Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup later this month in Calgary. Dube, who was born in Cochrane, Alberta, will represent his province at the tournament October 31st to November 3rd. The Rockets have no less than four prospects participating at the Under 16 Challenge. 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 Rockets have out-shot the opposition in seven of the ten games…  

Who’s Hot: Damon Severson is riding a career high seven game point streak. Severson has 4+6=10 in his last seven games…The Rockets have allowed one power play goal against in their last six games. That translates into one goal against in their last 26 kills…Myles Bell has goals in three of his last six games. Bell has 4 goals over that stretch….Bell has points in six of the eight games he has played this season…Riley Stadel has 7+5=12 points so far this season. Last year as a WHL rookie, Stadel had 11 points through 49 games…Zach Franko has points in nine of his first ten games. Franko has 2+10=12 over that period…Tyrell Goulbourne has six points in his last seven games…Nick Merkley has four goals in his last seven games and has six points in his last three games…Madison Bowey has 3+3=6 in his last seven games…Tyson Baillie has goals in four straight games…Ryan Olsen has 3+5=8 in his last five games…

Milestone Makers:
Tyrell Goulbourne played in his 150th career game October 4th Friday vs. Portland.
Jordon Cooke played in his 100th career game September 22nd against the Kamloops Blazers.
Damon Severson played in his 200th career game October 5th vs. Portland.     
Severson has 91 career assists – 9 shy of 100.
Tyson Baillie is 2 points shy of 100 for his career.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday afternoon musings

Colton Sissons
  • I sure like the Rockets discipline so far this season. They are playing like the mature team they are on paper. Penalty minutes are low, and when they are fingered to the box the shorthanded unit has played as close to perfect when down by a man. 
  • Slowly....and I mean slowly, the Rockets d-core is getting more aggressive and down right abrasive when treating opposition forwards entering the offensive zone. How about Damon Severson's hard hit in the first period Saturday night after pasting an unsuspecting Cougars forward with a bone crunching hit. A Cougar teammate wanted to fight Severson, who simply  skated away and went about his business. 
  • Jordon Cooke is clutch. The 20 year-old is in a zone and it playing with tremendous confidence just ten games into the season. Cooke is playing so well, it has to be hard for the coaching staff to take him out of the net to give Jackson Whistle more playing time. Remember, wins now are just as important as they are later in the season. No win is underrated. 
  • Justin Kirkland isn't raising a lot of eye brows with his play just yet, but isn't it nice to have a rookie forward in the line up that stands 6 foot 3? It is very odd for a the Rockets organization to ice a player that while lanky, also plays a finesse game with an above average skill set. Brett Bulmer is the last 6 foot 3 player to wear Rockets colours that was dangerous with the puck. Geordie Wudrick was also 6'3 and had high end skill. I am not sure if those players are hard to find, but I am intrigued at Kirkland's evolution as a player into what could be a darn good power forward down the road.
  • Just to put into perspective the start rookie Nick Merkley is having this season, Shane McColgan, arguably the best 16 year-old forward to ever wear a Rockets uniform, collecting 4 goals and 13 points in his 10 games as a raw rookie. Merkley has 14 points in ten games.
  • If you want to complain about the early attendance totals at Rockets home games, look at some of the disturbing numbers elsewhere across the WHL. Only Portland, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver have had bigger crowds. The Giants are playing before just over 5 thousand fans, with some of those games under that total. Things aren't as bad in Kelowna when you look at the other 21 teams across the league.        
  • A nice start for Colton Sissons. The Rockets ex-captain has two goals and two assists in four games with the Milwaukee Admirals. With Sissons heart/hustle, he will play in the NHL.