Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rockets game notes vs. Giants

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets are riding a three game winning streak heading into tonight’s home game against the visiting Vancouver Giants. The Rockets are facing a BC Division opponent for a fourth consecutive game after beating Kamloops (6-1) and Prince George (7-2 and 8-2) to open the season. This is the first of eight meetings between the two teams this season. The Giants are in Kelowna tonight, November 8th, January 7th and March 1st. The Rockets play four games at Pacific Coliseum on November 2nd, February 27th, March 6th and March 20th. Last season the Rockets were 7-1-0-0, out-scoring their BC Division rivals 34-20. Outside of a 6-0 win, seven of the games were decided by two goals or less.  Following tonight’s game, the Rockets are on the road this weekend for two games in Washington State. The Rockets visit the Everett Silvertips Friday before traveling to Seattle to meet the T-Birds on Saturday. The next home after tonight is next Tuesday against the Swift Current Broncos in a battle of the Merkley Brother’s – Nick and Jay.           

Whistle faces old mates: Rockets goaltender Jackson Whistle is meeting the Giants for the first time this season. Whistle was originally drafted by the Giants, in the 4th round of the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. Whistle earned his first WHL win as a member of the Giants in a shutout victory over the Prince George Cougars on January 10, 2012. Whistle has a goals against average of 1.67 after three starts this season. The West Kelowna product has stopped 85 of 90 shots. Whistle is 4-1-1-0 in six career starts against his former team. 

Bowey’s Back: Captain Madison Bowey returns to the line-up Saturday night after attending the training camp of the Washington Capitals. Bowey is a second round pick of the ‘Caps’ in 2013. Last season, the then 18 year-old scored 21 goals and in the process set a new Kelowna Rockets franchise record for goals by a defenceman. The old mark was held by Tyson Barrie, who found the back of the net 19 times in 2009-2010. Bowey has a good chance of playing for Canada at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships which are being shared by the cities of Montreal and Toronto. In 202 career games, Bowey has 115 points (41 goals and 74 assists). 

This and That: Tyson Baillie had three goals in back-to-back games in Prince George last weekend. Baillie has 12 career goals against the Cougars….Baillie has four goals after three games this season. Baillie had just two goals in his first six games last season….Did you know Jackson Whistle is a proficient juggler? You do now!...Whistle and teammate Rourke Chartier both saw their fathers play for the same English Premier team – the Romford Raiders - who later competed in the National Ice Hockey League. Jackson’s father Dave played 17 games in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings (13) and the Kamloops Blazers (4) between 1986 and 1987….The Rockets own the best power play unit in the WHL with nine power play goals in just three games….The Rockets have scored two shorthanded goals this season. Last season the team managed 13 shorthanded goals and had the best penalty killing unit in the WHL…Colton Heffley plays in his 247th career game tonight….…Jackson Whistle has won 9 straight games against BC Division teams. Whistle’s last loss against a BC Division team was against the Vancouver Giants on January 12/2013 in an overtime setback…Last season the Rockets were 2-1-0-0 after three games and scored 13 goals while allowing 8 against. This season after three games the team is 3-0-0-0 and have scored 21 times and have allowed five goals against….In the last 15 seasons the Kelowna Rockets have never started the season 4-0-0-0. In the 2002-2003 WHL championship season the team lost opening night. In the Memorial Cup season of 2003-2004, the Rockets lost their second game of the season. In the 2004-2005 WHL championship season the team lost on opening night. In 2008-2009, the WHL championship season, the Rockets lost on opening night as well. Traditionally, the Rockets are slow starters to the season……The Rockets have scored a power play goal in all three games…The opposition has opened the scoring in two of the three games….The Rockets have out-shot the opposition in all three games this season…Assistant Coach Kris Mallette accumulated 866 penalty minutes at the WHL level. Mallette’s coach in the first season in the WHL (1996) was Peter Anholt, who is now an assistant GM with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.     

NHL Central Scouting Speaks: Kelowna Rockets Nick Merkley, Joe Gatenby and Tomas Soustal have made NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary list of ‘players to watch’ for next June’s NHL draft. Merkley is rated an ‘A’ prospect, which means scouts believe he will be taken in the opening round. Gatenby and Soustal are ‘C’ rated prospects meaning they could be chosen anywhere from the 4th to 6th round. The NHL draft is next summer in Philadelphia.     

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