Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A few thoughts and connections between Rockets/Americans

Americans last line of defence - Eric Comrie
  • It will be interesting to see what the attendance figure will be when the Kelowna Rockets open the playoffs Saturday night against the Tri City Americans. If you look at games one and two last year against Seattle, 5,467 fans took in game one before 5,578 showed up for game two. While less than a thousand short of a sell out, they were solid crowds for late March. The smallest crowd of the 2013 playoffs was in round two against Kamloops when 4,584  watched game two.
  • What Kelowna Rockets captain was drafted by the Tri City Americans in the bantam draft? Answer at the bottom of the article.
  • You can forgive the Rockets for feeling a sense of deja vu heading into Saturday's opening game against the Tri City Americans. The Rockets had 50 more points than the Americans during the regular season. Against Seattle last year in round one the difference was also 50 points. 
  • 19 year-old Kelowna Rockets forward Ryan Olsen is a draft pick of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets from 2012. Americans goaltender Eric Comrie (pictured right) is also a pick of the Jets from 2013. Comrie was taken in the second round. Olsen is a 6th rounder.
  • The Rockets and Americans have only selected first overall once each in the WHL bantam draft. That my friends is a good thing. The only time the Rockets picked first overall was in 1991 - their expansion year - when they took Adam Smith. The Americans only first overall selection came in 2003. They picked a Winnipeg kid named Jonathon Toews. Ya, that Jonathan Toews...the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks. Toews never played a game in the WHL but GM Bob Tory had to pick the high profile player with the outside hope he would choose major junior hockey. My generally feeling is it were today, now with the Americans outstanding track record in tact, Toews may have spent some time in an Americans uniform. 
  • Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert and Americans head coach Jim Hiller were both selected in the 1989 NHL entry draft. Lambert was taken in the 6th round by Quebec and Hiller was selected in the 10th round by the LA Kings. Lambert would play 29 games in the NHL. Hiller would play 63 in the show. 
  • Did you know Americans GM Bob Tory rents his Edmonton home to Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal? You do now. 
  • What two current WHL head coaches were once head coaches with the Americans? Don Hay of the Vancouver Giants and Don Nachbaur of the Spokane Chiefs. 
  • The Americans drafted  Liam Gorges back in 2005. Liam is indeed the cousin of former Rockets captain Josh Gorges. 
  • The Rockets will play their 190th WHL playoff game Saturday night since re-locating from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-96 season.   
  • This is the 35th playoff series the Rockets have been involved in since moving to the Okanagan.
  • The Kelowna Rockets have been involved in a game seven six times in those 35 playoff series. Only eight times has a series ended in a four game sweep.
  • Lucas Bloodoff was drafted in the 6th round by the Americans in 2004 WHL bantam draft. Bloodoff would go on to captain the Rockets in 2009-2010 and was a member of the 2009 WHL championship team. 

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