Tonight’s Preview: Happy New Year. It would only be fitting that the Kelowna Rockets play their 39th game of the season to open 2015 against the arch rival Kamloops Blazers. These two teams’ met last Saturday at Prospera Place with the Rockets earning a 4-2 win. This is only the fourth meeting of the season between these two teams’. Back on September 20th, the Rockets were a 6-1 winner before earning a 6-4 victory in Kamloops October 15th. The Rockets face the Blazers 6 more times after tonight including January 9th and then three times in February (6th, 7th and 18th) and twice in March (13th and 14th). The Rockets have won three of their last four games after a 5-3 setback Tuesday night to the visiting Prince George Cougars. Riley Stadel and Justin Kirkland each scored once and added two assists in the teams’ 6th regulation loss of the season. This is the third game of six straight for the Rockets against teams in the BC Division. After playing 11 of their last 17 on the road, the Rockets are in the midst of playing 9 of 11 games on home ice. Both road games are in Kamloops. Overall, the Rockets have a record of 9-5-2-0 in their last 16 games with points in 11 of those 16. The Rockets host Prince George tomorrow night.
Three Star Balloting:
Player: 1st Star 2nd Star 3rd Star Total
Jackson Whistle: 7 3 2 12
Rourke Chartier: 5 4 2 11
Nick Merkley: 3 2 4 9
Tyson Baillie: 1 5 2 8
Madison Bowey: 2 2 3 7
*Other first star winners are: Tyrell Goulbourne and Cole Martin.
December’s Difference Makers: Justin Kirkland led all Rockets scorers in December with 5+8=13. Nick Merkley was next on that list with 2+8=10. Dillon Dube collected 8 points with 7+1=8 while Tyson Baillie also had 8 points in the month with 5+3=8. Rourke Chartier played in just 5 games but managed to score 6 times.
Closing in on 40: Rourke Chartier has 35 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.
This and That: Dan Lambert played for Canada at the 1989 World Junior Hockey Championships…Who scored last year’s first goal to ring in 2014? Jesse Lees found the back of the net in a 7-2 win in Portland….Nick Merkley has 5+22=27 against BC Division opponents this season….Tyson Baillie has 12 goals against BC Division opponents…Rourke Chartier’s longest scoring drought is just three games…..Rourke Chartier has four goals in two games against the Blazers this season….Rourke Chartier signed a contact with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks on Wednedsday. Chartier was a 5th round pick of the Sharks from 2014….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….The Rockets are 36-8-1-1 in the last two seasons against teams in the BC Division…Nick Merkley will represent the WHL at the Top Prospects game next month in St. Catharine’s Ontario….Twenty of the Rockets final 34 games 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 is now a +90 in the last two seasons…The Rockets have been held to three goals or less only 10 times this season…The Rockets have not been shut-out in 114 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…Cole Martin is playing in career game #247 tonight vs. the Blazers.