Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Game four. You ready?

Tonight’s Preview: Welcome to game four of the Western Hockey League Championship series. The Kelowna Rockets lead the Brandon Wheat Kings three games to none in the best of seven series after a 4-3 win in game one, a 5-3 victory in game two and a 5-3 victory in game three. Game four (Tonight) and if necessary game five (Friday) will be played at Prospera Place. If a game six is also needed, it will be played in Brandon on Sunday night. These two teams met only once this season, October 22nd in Kelowna, with the Rockets earning a 6-1 win. The Rockets advanced with series wins over Tri City, Victoria and Portland. This is the Rockets fourth appearance in the finals since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the start of the 1995-1996 season. The team has won every time they have appeared in the championship series including wins over Red Deer (2003), Brandon (2005) and Calgary (2009).

What we’ve learned so far: The Wheat Kings have opened the scoring in two of the three games…The Rockets have out-scored Brandon 14-9 in the first three games…The Rockets have out-scored the Wheat Kings 6-3 in the second period and 5-3 in the first frame…How close is this series? Kelowna has out-shot Brandon 103-98…The Rockets are 1 for 9 on the power play in the first three games and have scored two shorthanded goal while the Wheat Kings are 4 for 10 with the extra man…Madison Bowey is a +7 rating in the series, tops among Rockets players. Josh Morrissey is +7.   

Scoring in the series:
Period:             1    2    3  Total
Rockets:          5    6    3    14
Wheat Kings:  3    3    3     9

Big night for Baillie? Nineteen year-old Tyson Baillie is two points shy of tying Tyler Mosienko for the most career playoff points by a Kelowna Rockets player. Baillie has 23+30=53, while Mosienko is the franchise leader with 20+35=55. Nick Merkley moved into third spot all time with three assists in game three. Merkley has 46 points in 39 playoff games, surpassing Tyson Barrie and Jamie Benn, with both players collecting 44 points in their careers. (Benn:16+28=44 in 26 games) (Barrie 10+34=44 in 51 games).

Hot to Trot: Dillon Dube has 3+4=7 in his last five games…Leon Draisaitl has a seven game point streak. The 19 year-old has 5+5=10 over that period. Draisaitl has points in 16 of the 18 playoff games in 2015…Tyson Baillie has a seven game point streak. Baillie has 3+8=11 over that period….Baillie has a point in 17 of the 18 playoff games in 2015. The only game where he didn’t record a point was in game two of the Western Conference final vs. Portland….Nick Merkley has two goals and nine assists in his last six games. Merkley has points in 15 of the 18 playoff games the Rockets have been involved in.

This and That: Who was the last Kelowna Rockets rookie head coach to lead his team to a WHL title? Jeff Truitt took over for the departed Marc Habscheid following the 2003-2004 season and promptly led the Rockets to a WHL Championship victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2005…The team record for shutouts in a playoff is four. Kelly Guard had four shutouts in the 2003 post season while Derek Yeomans also had four in 2005. Current goalie Jackson Whistle has three shutouts in the 2015 post season….The Kelowna Rockets are riding a six game winning streak. The last loss was game three of the Western Conference final against the Portland Winterhawks….Nick Merkley is the WHL Player of the Week. Merkley collected two goals and one assists in back-to-back wins in Brandon in game one and two of the WHL Championship series…Sixteen year-old Cal Foote has signed a player contract with the Kelowna Rockets. Foote was the team’s second round pick in the 2013 WHL bantam draft. Foote is the son of former NHLer Adam Foote. Foote resides in Engelwood, Colorado….Outside of Dan Lambert, name the last Western Hockey League rookie coach to lead his team to the league final? The answer is Kevin Constantine of the Everett Silvertips. Constantine led the Tips to a birth in the WHL final where they were swept in four straight games by the Medicine Hat Tigers…Nick Merkley’s two goals in game two snapped a nine game goal scoring drought. Merkley’s last goal prior to Saturday was April 14th in a second round series against Victoria…Rourke Chartier has goals in six of his last eight playoff games…What a year of experience makes. Gage Quinney had 0+0=0 in four playoff games last season with the Prince Albert Raiders. In the 2015 post season, the Las Vegas product has 6+7=13 in 14 games…This is the 91st game of the season for the Rockets this evening. That includes 72 regular season games and now its 18th playoff game…Rourke Chartier was named the Western Hockey League Sportsmanlike Player of the Year at the WHL awards banquet last Wednesday. Chartier had 18 penalty minutes in 51 regular season games…The Kelowna Rockets were given the Marketing and Business Award at Wednesday’s luncheon in Calgary…Madison Bowey has 48 games of playoff experience…The Rockets played in 14 post season games last season …Cole Martin has 48 playoff games on his resume….In total, the Rockets have 624 games of playoff experience in the lineup this evening…Rourke Chartier had 6 goals in 14 games in last year’s playoffs. In this year’s post season, the now 19 year-old (turned 19 April 3rd) has twelve goals in fifteen games….Only two Rockets celebrate birthdays in May. Joe Gatenby turns 18 on May 15th while Nick Merkley blows out the same number of candles on May 23rd….The Rockets are 15 and 3 in post season…This is the eighth consecutive appearance in the post season for the Rockets and 19th time in the franchises 20 year history…The Rockets have been involved in eight-one goal games in this year’s playoffs. They are 6-2 in those eight games…Leon Draisaitl has played 50 games with the Kelowna Rockets (regular season/playoff). The 19 year-old has 28+51=79.

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