Saturday, March 22, 2014

Let's begin

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open the 2014 Western Hockey League playoff tonight when they host the Tri City Americans. These two teams met four times this season with the Rockets going 4-0-0-0, out-scoring the Americans 20-5 including 12-1 at home. Jordon Cooke played three of the four games but the Americans elected to start #1 goaltender Eric Comrie just once. The Rockets out-scored the Americans 9-0 in the first period in the four game series. The Rockets out-shot the Am’s in all four games, 186-83. Game two is tomorrow night before games three and four are back in Kennewick Washington next Tuesday and Wednesday night. This is the 5th time these two teams have met in the playoffs and the second time in round one. They have met in the playoffs in 2010, 2009, 2004 and in 1996.         

Scoring breakdown in seasonal series:
Period:        1     2    3   SO   Total
Rockets:     9     6    4     1     20
Americans: 0     1    4     0      5

Rockets Award Winners: The Rockets handed out their team awards last Sunday. Jordon Cooke was named the team MVP. Damon Severson was the Top Defenceman. Nick Merkley was named Rookie of the Year. Rourke Chartier picked up three awards including Top Defensive Forward, Most Sportsmanlike and Scholastic Player of the Year. Jackson Whistle was the Most Improved Player. Cole Martin was the Top +/- Player. Myles Bell was the Top Scorer for a second straight year.  

More League Love: Twenty year-old goaltender Jordon Cooke was named a 1st Team Western Conference WHL All-Star on Thursday. Cooke was also named the Western Conference nominee for Goaltender of the Year. Teammates Damon Severson and Madison Bowey were named 2nd Team Western Conference All-Stars. Sixteen year-old Nick Merkley is the Western Conference nominee for Rookie of the Year.    

Broken Record or Breaking Records? The Rockets set new franchise records for wins (57), fewest losses (11) and most points (118). Madison Bowey set a new team record for goals by a defenceman in a season with 21, breaking the old mark of 19 set by Tyson Barrie. Nick Merkley tied the team record for goals by a 16 year-old rookie. Merkley and Shane McColgan both put up 25 goals as 16 year-olds.     

This and That: The Kelowna Rockets are playing their 190th playoff game tonight…This is the 35th playoff series the Rockets have been involved in since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the start of the 1995-96 season…Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert and Americans head coach Jim Hiller were both selected in the 1989 NHL draft. Lambert was taken in the 6th round by Quebec while Hiller was taken in the 10th round by the LA Kings…The Rockets tied the league record with 29 road wins this season…The Rockets were regular season champions for a third time. The team also captured league crowns in 2003 and 2002…Cole Martin lead the entire WHL with a +/- rating of +61…The Rockets were rated as the #1 team in the CHL Top 10 rankings for 12 straight weeks.  

Who’s Hot: Nick Merkley has points in twelve of his last 15 games. Merkley has 12+7=19 over that period. Marek Tvrdon has 21 points in his last 18 games (7+14=21). Damon Severson has points in 14 of his last 20 games…The Rockets are 48-6-0-4 in their last 58 home games dating back to last season. Rourke Chartier has 5+9=14 in his last 12 games…Chartier has 37 points in his last 36 games.

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