Monday, February 9, 2015

Rockets/Cougars preview

Tonight’s Preview: Happy BC Family Day! This afternoon the Kelowna Rockets welcome the visiting Prince George Cougars. This is the eighth and final meeting of the season between these two teams. The Rockets are 5-2-0-0 in the first seven games but the Cougars have won two of the last three meetings. In the seasonal series, the road team has won six of the seven games. The only home team win came in the last meetings, January 3rd, when the Rockets earned a hard fought 4-3 win at Prospera Place. Overall, the Rockets have out-scored the Cougars 37-21. In the last five seasons, the Rockets record against Prince George is 31-9-0-0. At home over those five years the record is 15-5-0-0. The Rockets are coming off a home and home series sweep over the Kamloops Blazers. Justin Kirkland had two goals and an assist in a 5-2 win Saturday night while Rourke Chartier had a goal and two assists Friday in a 5-3 win over the Blazers. Four of the Rockets next five games are on home ice. The only road game over that stretch is in Seattle (Kent) tomorrow night. The Rockets are 13-3-0-1 since the Christmas break. Nine of the team’s 12 games in February are against BC Division rivals. Overall, the Rockets have points in eight straight games (7-0-0-1). 

Top Guns vs. Cougars: Rourke Chartier has seven goals and five assists (7+5=12) against the Cougars in the first seven games. Tyson Baillie and Nick Merkley also have 12 points against the Cougars. Baillie has five goals and 7 assists while Merkley has three goals and nine assists.  Justin Kirkland has five goals in the seven games. Chase Witala has been far and away the best player for the Cougars against the Rockets with five goals, six assists and 11 points in the seven games.

Here Comes the Streak! Justin Kirkland is riding a six game point streak. Kirkland has four goals and five assists (5+5=10) over that stretch. Rourke Chartier has goals in three straight games. Chartier also has a four game point streak with three goals and four assists (3+4=7). Gage Quinney has a four game point streak with three goals and three assists (3+3=6). Tyson Baillie has a four game point streak with two goals and six assists (2+6=8). Defenceman Josh Morrissey has a modest four game point streak with four assists.  

Another 40 win season: The Kelowna Rockets earned their 40th win of the season last night. It marked the 11th time in franchise history that this has happened. Here is the breakdown of 40 win seasons:
2014-2015: 41 wins and counting
2013-2014: 57 wins      2004-2005: 45 wins     
2012-2013: 52 wins      2003-2004: 47 wins
2010-2011: 43 wins      2002-2003: 51 wins
2008-2009: 47 wins      1994-1995: 43 wins (Tacoma)
2005-2006: 46 wins      1992-1993: 45 wins (Tacoma)

This and That: Tyson Baillie is two points shy of 200 for his WHL career. Baillie has 198 career points courtesy of 90 goals and 108 assists…The Rockets find themselves in second place in the WHL standings for the first time this season. The Rockets trail Brandon by one point despite having played two fewer games than the Eastern Conference leaders….Tomas Soustal turns 18 on February 15th….Nick Merkley, Rourke Chartier and Tyson Baillie led the Rockets in scoring in January with identical 6+8=14 totals. Leon Draisaitl led the team in goals in January with seven….Josh Morrisey has 1+8=9 in eleven games with the Rockets this season and is +10 in his last eight games…Rodney Southam is playing in his 100th career game this afternoon…..Chance Braid is playing in his 248th career game against the Cougars. This is also the first game for Braid against his old team since being traded to the Rockets from Prince George on January 10th….The Rockets have been held to just one goal four times this season. Edmonton (road), Calgary (road) Regina (home) and Prince Albert (home) have turned the trick against the highest scoring team in the Western Conference...The Kelowna Rockets have scored the most goals on the road (125) in the WHL this season…The Rockets are still on pace to set a new WHL record for wins on the road in one season. To set a new record (the record is 29 set by Kelowna/Portland) the Rockets must win seven of their final eight road games...The Rockets have lost only twice in regulation time on the road this season. Those two losses came in Tri City and Calgary...The Rockets have points in 9 straight road games (8-0-0-1)….The Rockets are 52-9-2-1 on opposition ice in the last two seasons….The Rockets have 19 games left in the regular season. Of those 19, eight will be played on the road with eleven on home ice….Three members of the Kelowna Rockets made the mid-term rankings for NHL’s Central Scouting Service. Nick Merkley is rated 13th, Devante Stephens is ranked 108th and 17 year-old defenceman Joe Gatenby is 134th among North American skaters.

Three Star Balloting: *Other first star winners are: Leon Draisaitl (four), Tyrell Goulbourne (twice) and Cole Martin and Justin Kirkland once each.
Player:                          1st Star    2nd Star   3rd Star   Total 
Rourke Chartier:              6              6              2            14
Jackson Whistle:             7              4              2            13
Nick Merkley:                   5              2              5            12
Tyson Baillie:                   3              6              3            12
Madison Bowey:              2              3              3             8

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