Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rockets/Royals rekindle rivalry

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Victoria Royals tonight in only the fourth of eight meetings between the two teams this season. Yep, that’s right! These two BC Division rivals will face each other four more times after this evening. The Rockets visit the Royals for back-to-back games next weekend in Victoria before the final two games are played at Prospera Place on February 25th and March 11th. The Rockets are 2-0-1-0 in the first three games after a 4-3 overtime loss and a 5-3 win (Both in Victoria) and a 5-1 win on home ice back on November 5th. In that game, Nick Merkley, Rourke Chartier and Madison Bowey each had a goal and two assists. These two teams have made significant changes since they last met in November. Leon Draisaitl, Josh Morrissey, Chase Braid and Gage Quinney are new faces on Kelowna’s side. The Royals now have Craig Chase and Alex Forsberg after trades with Calgary and Saskatoon while Keegan Kanzig is now longer with the team. The Rockets are coming off a 2-1 loss in Seattle Tuesday night. Nick Merkely scored the lone goal in the team’s 9th loss of the season. Michael Herringer made 25 saves in goal as the Rockets went 0 for 6 on the power play. This is the start of three straight games on home ice for the Rocket, who host Moose Jaw tomorrow and Kamloops on Wednesday. The Rockets are 14-4-0-1 since the Christmas break. Nine of the team’s 12 games in February are against BC Division rivals. Overall, the Rockets have points in nine of ten games (8-1-0-1). 

Dare to Compare: The Rockets have a record of 42-9-3-1 this season, good for 88 points. After 55 games last season the team was 43-8-0-4, which was good for 90 points. The team has scored 238 goals this season. At the same time last year after 55 games, 237 goals were scored and 144 goals were given up. This season the team has surrendered 138 goals against.   

Streaks Snapped: Justin Kirkland had his seven game point streak snapped Tuesday in Seattle. Kirkland had five goals and seven assists (5+7=12) over that stretch. Rourke Chartier has goals in four of his last five games. Chartier had his five game point streak snapped Tuesday night. Chartier had four goals and four assists (4+4=8) over that period. Gage Quinney had his five game point streak snapped against the T-Birds. The 19 year-old had three goals and four assists (3+4=7). Tyson Baillie has a four game point streak with two goals and six assists (2+6=8). Defenceman Josh Morrissey has a modest six game point streak with (2+4=6) two goals and four assists.   

Another 40 win season: The Kelowna Rockets earned their 40th win of the season Saturday in Kamloops. It marked the 11th time in franchise history that this has happened. Here is the breakdown of 40 win seasons:
2014-2015: 42 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: The Royals have been highly successful at Prospera Place over the years. In the last five seasons the Royals are 9-7-0-1, which is the best record of any visiting team in the BC Division. Interestingly, the Rockets are 11-5-2-0 in 18 games in Victoria in the last five seasons…Tyson Baillie has 4+2=6 in three games against the Royals in the seasonal series. Nick Merkley has 2+3=5 in the three games while Madison Bowey has 1+4=5 in the three games. The leading point producer for the Royals in the seasonal series is Joe Hicketts (1+4=5). Brandon Magee leads the Royals with three goals…Tyson Baillie is two points shy of 200 for his WHL career. Baillie has 198 career points courtesy of 90 goals and 108 assists…Tomas Soustal turns 18 on Sunday….Josh Morrisey has 3+8=11 in 13 games with the Rockets this season and is +12 in his last ten games…Rodney Southam played in his 100th career game Monday vs. Prince George…The Rockets have been held to just one goal five times this season. Seattle (road), 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 (126) in the WHL this season…The Rockets have lost only three times in regulation time on the road this season. Those three losses came in Seattle, Tri City and Calgary...The Rockets have points in 9 of their last 10 road games (8-1-0-1)….The Rockets are 52-10-2-1 on opposition ice in the last two seasons….The Rockets have 17 games left in the regular season. Of those 17, seven will be played on the road with ten 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. 

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