Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play their 38thgame of the season tonight against the visiting Prince George Cougars. This is the 6th of 8 meetings between the two teams’. The road team has won every game in the seasonal series. The Rockets are 4-1-0-0 against the Cougars in the first five games, having out-scored their BC Division rivals 30-15. The Cougars are one of only three teams to beat the Rockets on home ice this season. Back on December 5th the Cougars earned a 4-3 win. Ty Edmonds was named the games’ first star with a 37 save performance as the Rockets peppered the Cougars net with 16-third period shots in the one goal loss. Nick Merkley, Rourke Chartier and Justin Kirkland scored in a losing cause. Following tonight’s game, these two teams meet again at Prospera Place on January 3rd and February 9th to conclude the seasonal series. The Rockets have won three straight games after a 4-2 win Saturday night over the Kamloops Blazers. Rourke Chartier scored twice.Following tonight’s tilt, the Rockets are in Kamloops Friday before again hosting the Cougars Saturday night. This is the second game of six straight for the Rockets against teams in the BC Division. After playing 11 of their last 17on the road, the Rockets are in the midst of playing 9 of 11 games on home ice. Overall, the Rockets have a record of9-4-2-0 in their last 15 games with points in 11 of those 15.
Closing in on 40: Rourke Chartier has 34 goals, which is 6 shy of 40 on the season. The last Rockets player to score 40 goals was Myles Bell, who found the back of the net 42 times last season. Bell scored 38 times as an 18 year-old. So this question must be asked. Who was the last 18 year-old Kelowna Rockets player (Chartier is 18) to score 40 goals? Only one player has accomplished that feat. Brett McLean scored 44 times as an 18 year-old during the 1996-97 campaign. McLean had 44+60=104. Jamie Benn scored 33 goals as an 18 year-old and Justin Keller, a former 50 goals scorer, found the back of the net 31 times as an 18 year-old.
Merkley vs. Harkins: Tonight’s game features two of the top scoring 17 year-old draft eligible players in the WHL. Nick Merkley leads the Rockets in scoring with 10+46=56 while Jansen Harkins leads the Cougars in scoring with 12+27=39. Harkins was taken 2nd overall in the 2012 WHL bantam draft while Merkley was chosen 9th overall. Both Merkley and Harkins will represent the WHL at the Top Prospects game next month in Ontario. The two are teammates on Team Orr.
This and That: Did you know the Rockets played their 1400th regular season game as the ‘Kelowna Rockets’December 10th in Lethbridge?...The Rockets are gunning for their 30th win of the season. It would mark the 14th time in the last 15 seasons the franchise has achieved that mark. The only blemish over that stretch was a 22 win season in 2006-2007, the only time they have failed to make the playoffs….This is the final game for the month of December. The Rockets are 6-2-0-0 in eight games during the month. Last season the Rockets were 12-0-0-0 in December with 5 straight wins on home ice and 7 straight victories on the road….The Rockets are 36-7-1-1 in the last two seasons against teams in the BC Division…Have the Kelowna Rockets ever won back-to-back regular season titles? Yes, but it has happened only once. In 2002-2003, the team collected 109 points and followed that up with a 98 point season in 2003-2004…Nick Merkley will represent the WHL at the Top Prospects game next month in St. Catharine’s Ontario….Twenty of the Rockets final 35games will play played against teams in the BC Division….The team has only two more trips to the U.S. The Rockets are in Seattle February 10th and in Everett on March 3rd…Tyson Baillie is two goals shy of his career high 26 he scored in the 2012-2013 season…Cole Martin leads the WHL with a +30 rating. Martin is now a +93 in the last two seasons…The Rockets have been held to three goals or less only 9 times this season…The Rockets have not been shut-out in 113 consecutive games. The last time the Rockets were held without a goal was March 3, 2013 in a 3-0 loss in Kamloops…Josh Morrissey, Madison Bowey and Kris Schmidli are all participating at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Montreal/Toronto…Is fighting down in the WHL? Tyrell Goulbourne has 3 fighting majors this season. The 20 year-old had 19 in 2012-2013. Rodney Southam has 8 fighting majors this season while Riley Stadel has five. Stadel had eight tilts a season ago…Cole Martin is playing in career game #246 tonight vs. Cougars.
Who’s Hot: Cole Martin has 7 assists in his last five games…Rodney Southam has 3+2=5 in his last 6games…Justin Kirkland is riding a five game point streak. Kirkland has 3+6=9 over that stretch. Kirkland had a 6 game point streak in early October…Dillon Dube has 7goals in his last 9 games…Tyson Baillie has 11 goals in his last 16 games and has points in 13 of his last 19…Over that period, the 19 year-old has (13+7=20)...Rourke Chartier has ten more goals (34) than he had all of last season. Chartier has goals in 17 of his last 20games….Nick Merkley has 6+24=30 in his last 21games…Lucas Johansen has 4 assists in his last three games. That is more than the three assists (points) he earned in his first 34 games.