Thursday, January 2, 2014

News, quotes and anecdotes

Bell, Goulbourne and Cooke playing B-Ball. 
  • Hello 2014. What will the new year bring with it? The Kelowna Rockets are an optimistic group and morale is high. Why wouldn't it be when wins are common place for this team. They aren't letting the success go to their heads though. Like any good athlete in order to have success you have to be confident in your abilities but remain cognoscente of what makes you a good team. If all 20 guys aren't willing to fulfill their role, success won't follow. This team is gifted as a group but not so much as individuals. Perhaps that could be said of any team.   
  • I thought Rourke Chartier said it best in a pre-season interview when I asked him about his goal of catching the eye of NHL scouts in his draft year. "It is all about team success. If the team is winning everyone will be recognized in their own way. I am not worried about it as long as the team is winning games."  Pretty mature comment from a 17 year-old player.
  • How did the team spend an off day in Portland on January 1st? A quick skate at the rink was followed by a meal in the hotel and then Myles Bell, Tyrell Goulbourne, Jordon Cooke and Tyson Baillie took advantage of the basketball court outside of the hotel. 
  • I have been around Myles Bell a lot over the last few years but didn't notice until I saw him on the basketball court that he indeed is left handed. Bell shoots with his left hand and told me he also writes with his left hand. Oddly, he shoots right and also swings a golf club with authority from the right side too.stant General Manager
  •  It appears the Portland Winterhawks have parted ways with former Kelowna Rockets forward Shane McColgan. "You want to see a player at 20 jump into a job with a new team and it is going to work out, but it doesn't always work out like that", Winterhawks GM Mike Johnston told me this morning. McColgan spent the first half of the season out of the line up after breaking his thumb. Twice, the now 21 year-old lead the Rockets in scoring.
  • It has been interesting to watch newcomer Tait Coughlin, specifically in practice here in Portland. Listed by the Rockets after a strong training camp, Coughlin has some impressive skill for a young player (born in 1997) and he reminds me a bit of Brett Bulmer. Coughlin is also a bigger body at 6'1 and just shy of 180 pounds. Playing junior 'B' on the Island, Coughlin must feel like he has died and gone to 'Hockey Heaven'. The Victoria resident is practicing on a first place team, spending time in a first rate hotel and eating some of the best food junior hockey has to offer. When he returns to his old team he will have many stories to share I'm sure.            
  • Dalton Yorke was used as a forward Tuesday night in a win in Portland, and to be honest, I liked him in that position. The rookie had two chances to score and seems more comfortable at that spot on the ice.       
  • I know Blades radio guru Les Lazaruk likes to call his team the 'Bridge City Bunch', but shouldn't the Winterhawks be called that? Eight bridges...count them...eight pass over the Willamette River into the downtown core. In Saskatoon aren't there three?   
  • Zach Franko plays his 250th career WHL game tonight against the Winterhawks. The best way for him to celebrate would be no less than a two point game to reach the 200 point plateau for his career. 
  • Winterhawks head coach Mike Johnston says once his three players return from the World Juniors, they will play the first game back with the Winterhawks before receiving at least a week off. Derek Pouliot, Nic Petan and Taylor Leier will be allowed to go home and recharge their batteries for the second half of the season. "You always have to worry about their mindset, their mentality and their freshness. The young guys that went home for Christmas, now they are back and are energized and fresh but the guys at the World Juniors, I want to make sure they are energized in March, April, May," Johnston added.    
  • Small observation after a significant stay in Portland: My straw poll reveals that one out of every four  men in Portland have beards. Oddly, the majority of them ride bikes.  
  • Nice to run into Winterhawks Assistant GM Matt Bardsley at the morning skate. He was wielding that impressive WHL Championship ring. Very nice.   
  • This is our 4th day in Portland. We arrived here at the hotel in the early morning hours of Sunday December 29th. It has been a good, yet long stay in the city of over 600 thousand. You couldn't wish for a better place to stay for an extended period of time. Again the Crown Plaza staff have been amazing. The rooms are excellent, the food is great and even the workout room (ya, I don't just sit around all day on the road) is solid. If you are ever visiting the Portland area, I strongly recommend this hotel.   
  • Did you know Portland is the 5th healthiest city in America? Guess I better watch myself at the buffet table.
  • Gord McGarva joins me on the broadcast tonight from Veterans Memorial Arena. We are on the air at 6:30 with the pre-game show and the play-by-play at 7.

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