Monday, August 18, 2014

Things that make me go hmm....

  • Can you believe it? The Kelowna Rockets rookie camp is just around the corner and the summer of 2014 is almost at an end. The time away from the rink is refreshing for all involved as the franchise officially celebrates its 20th season in the Okanagan in 2014-2015. The regular season starts in just over a month.
  • Director of Player Personnel Lorne Frey will be participating in his 24th Kelowna Rockets rookie camp this week. That is mind boggling. Funny thing is he loves every minute of it. 
  • Rookie camp is always interesting. It gives the Rockets brass a chance to see all ten players they selected in the 2014 WHL bantam draft on the same ice surface. It will be my first look at 1st round pick Jonathan Smart. Two other prospects to watch out for are Cooper Haar and Jordan Sandhu. Haar is the younger brother of former Portland Winterhawks d-man Garrett Haar and Sandu's older Tyler plays with the Everett Silvertips. 
  • Rookie camp will look at lot different this time around. No Ryan Huska. No Kim Dillabaugh. Both move on making way for new assistant coaches Kris Mallette and goaltending coach Travis Crickard. 
  • I have heard some negative vibe over the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Many have suggested it is a waste of time and no real strides are made in bringing awareness or funding towards the deadly disease. I have participated after a challenge from  Ryan Huska and believe strongly in the movement. Ross Ruttle, the Kelowna Rockets anthem singer at home games for years, was inflicted with ALS and I saw him struggling in a Kelowna hospice. It wasn't pretty. It was painful to watch as a man with such a strong singing voice was gasping for air and could only whisper when he spoke. That brings home the message of  the importance of getting the word out about ALS and the terrible way it takes so many peoples lives.     
  • Over the next few weeks we will break down the rookies that are impressing at camp and the veterans that are fighting for spots on this years team. But for now, its good to reflecting back to last season where the team won a league high and franchise record 57 games. With 118 points, a Western Hockey League regular season title will be raised to the Prospera Place rafters before the puck drops on September 20th.  The team was an incredible 57-11-0-4 last season. But as good as they were during the regular season, most fans I spoke to this summer remember the Winterhawks eliminating the Rockets in five games in the Western Conference final.
  • No Bell. No Cooke. No Severson. No Olson. The Rockets top three point producers from one season ago and are no longer with the team and that includes their starting goaltender. Myles Bell, Ryan Olsen and Damon Severson were 1,2,3 in team scoring last season. All three are moving on to pro hockey. Jordon Cooke, a WHL first team all-star and CHL Goaltender of the Year, will play with the U of S Huskies this fall. The loss of Bell, Olson and Severson is taking a combined 202 points out of the line up.  
  • The Rockets scored 310 goals last season. That was the second most of any team in the WHL. Last years squad was as good on defense too. The Rockets allowed 182 goals against - second best in the 22 team circuit.  
  • Plenty of offense returns for 2014-2015 thought. Madison Bowey had 60 points and a franchise record 21 goals from the blue line. WHL rookie of the year Nick Merkley had 58 points, including 25 goals and Rourke Chartier had 58 points with a career high 24 pucks finding the back of the net.    
  • Many forget the team managed an incredible 29 road wins last season. That was not only a franchise record but tied a WHL record too. At home the Rockets won 28 times. 
  • The Rockets penalty killing unit was the best in the league (86.2%) while the power play was a respectable 5th with 68 goals scored with the extra man.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Totally agree with the Ice Bucket Challenge. Anything that brings awareness (and the $$ that this has!) to this cause is worth it. And everyone's having fun participating/watching it, too.

Can't wait for the season to start!