Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Notes, quotes and anecdotes

Leon Draisaitl is ready to face-off against Oliver Bjorkstrand
  • This series features six players taken in the 2013 NHL draft. Josh Morrissey was selected 13th overall by Winnipeg while Nic Petan was taken in the second round, also by the Jets. Madison Bowey was a second round pick of the Washington Capitals while Tyrell Goulbourne (Philadelphia) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (Columbus) were third round selections. Mitch Wheaton was taken in the fifth round by Detroit. Can you name the three players taken in the 2013 draft that are no longer playing with the Rockets or Winterhawks? The answer at the bottom of this posting.
  • Jackson Whistle will start in goal when the puck drops between the Kelowna Rockets and Portland Winterhawks Friday night. The suggestion that he wouldn't is ridiculous. The 19 year-old has been pulled twice in this years playoffs, but only once when his team was actually trailing on the scoreboard. Whistle has three playoff shutouts and has a 2.35 goals against average in seven appearances. I asked Whistle how being pulled in a game affects his psyche. "Even bad things are sometimes good things to learn from". That is an awfully mature answer for a goalie who is getting his first taste of being a number one goaltender in the playoffs.  
  • Leon Draisaitl against Oliver Bjorkstrand. It is a marquee matchup against arguably two of the top European born players in the entire Canadian Hockey League. Draisaitl leads the Rockets in playoff scoring with 15 points in nine games while Bjorkstrand has 18 points in eleven playoff games with the Winterhawks. I asked Draisaitl if he is looking forward to the showdown? "At the end of the day it is about the team winning. It's not about Draisaitl against Bjorkstrand, it is about Kelowna against Portland. I think that is the most important thing about it." Draisaitl is averaging 1.7 points per game in this years playoffs while Bjorkstrand is averaging 1.6 point per game.
  • Jackson Whistle and Nic Petan are former teammates. They won a gold medal with Team BC at the 2011 Canadian Winter Games in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • Portland head coach Jamie Kompon has the bragging rights of saying he has played with Gretzky. Keith Gretzky that is. Kompon played with Wayne's younger brother in the East Coast Hockey League in 1990-91.        
  • A quick high five to the Kelowna Rockets video staff for the great work they do on the team website. The video interviews from the coach and players after the games are excellent. What other team offers that to it's fans in the WHL? Calgary and Seattle are the two that come to mind. In other words, few if any take the time to do it. Kevin Parnell and Britt Prendergast receive credit for the hard work behind the scenes. 
  • One played for the Kelowna Rockets. The other saw time with the Portland Winterhawks. Now Mikael Backlund and Tyler Wotherspoon are teammates with the NHL's Calgary Flames. Backlund was a member of the Rockets in 2009 while Wotherspoon played four seasons with the Winterhawks from 2009-2013. Both are WHL champions. As mentioned, Backlund won it in 2009 while Wotherspoon captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2013.          
  • Leon Draisaitl would love to play with Connor McDavid. That could become a reality after the Edmonton Oilers won the NHL lottery last weekend to draft the highly coveted forward. Draisaitl, who is attempting to focus on helping the Kelowna Rockets win a WHL championships, admits he is trying to block out the notion that the Oilers may trade his rights to another team in an effort to acquire help on defense or in goal. "In this business you never know what is going to happen. One day there could be a blockbuster trade, so that could be in the back of anyone's head." It has been suggested that the Oilers will look to address their defensive needs by trading one of their top - young players on their roster or a top prospect.
  • Kelowna Rockets assistant coach Kris Mallette and Winterhawks head coach Jamie Kompon were both born in Ontario. Mallette is from North Bay while Kompon was born in Thunder Bay.     
  • Portland defenceman Adam Henry is familiar with the Rockets. The 20 year-old was a member of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who were swept by the Rockets in the second round of the 2014 playoffs.
  • The three players taken in the 2013 NHL draft that no longer play with the Rockets and Winterhawks are Seth Jones (1st round - Nashville), Myles Bell (NJ - 6th round) and Brendan Burke (Phoenix - 6th round). 

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