|Rockets HC Brad Ralph - Shoot the Breeze|
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open a short three game home stand tonight against the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. This is the second meeting between the two teams this season. Back on October 2nd, in Edmonton, the Rockets were a 5-3 winner. Cole Linaker, an Edmonton resident, scored twice in the win. Michael Herringer made 35 saves as the Rockets fired a season high 42 pucks at the Oil Kings net. The Oil Kings led 3-2 heading into the third period before the Rockets rallied with three unanswered goals. The Oil Kings last game at Prospera Place was February 7, 2014 in a 3-2 shootout win. Mitch Moroz scored the game winner. Myles Bell and Carter Rigby had the Kelowna goals.
The Rockets have won 10 of their last 13 games overall (10-2-0-1) and are 9-3-1-0 on the road. Following tonight’s game, the Rockets host the Vancouver Giants tomorrow night and Seattle next Wednesday before traveling to the Island to play the Victoria Royals next weekend. Overall, the Rockets have points in 7 straight games (6-0-1-0).
What happened Wednesday? Rodney Southam does most of his solid work with his gloves off. That wasn’t the case Wednesday in Kamloops though. The gritty forward showed good hands and determination by scoring the game winning goal in overtime in the Rockets 4-3 win. Tomas Soustal, Kole Lind and Tanner Wishnowski scored in the team’s 15th win of the season. The Rockets killed off all three of the Blazers power play chances while failing to hit the ice even once with the top power play unit in the WHL.
Tyson Baillie hits record books: Tyson Baillie had two assists Wednesday in a 4-3 overtime win in Kamloops. Baillie now has 251 career points, becoming only the 5th player in Rockets franchise history to reach the 250 point plateau. Brett McLean had 375 points before being traded to Brandon in his 20 year-old season. John Varga had 333 career points with Tacoma. Jason Deleurme had 313 career points while Kiel McLeod had 261 career points.
Head to Head vs. Oil Kings: The Rockets were 6-3-0-2 against the Oil Kings in the last 11 meetings between the teams. The Rockets are 3-1-0-1 in the last five seasons against the Oil Kings at Prospera Place.
This and That: The Rockets have been to overtime in three straight games. The Rockets have won once in overtime and lost once in the extra period. One overtime game decided nothing and was reduced to the game ending in a shootout victory…. The Rockets and Oil Kings have many similarities. The teams are the last two to win the WHL title. The Rockets won it in 2015 while the Oil Kings captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2014. The two teams have first year coaches in Brad Ralph (Rockets) and Steve Hamilton (Oil Kings). The two franchises also have a distain for the Portland Winterhawks. The Rockets have met the Winterhawks in four out of the last five playoffs while the Oil Kings beat Portland in the 2012 league championships, lost to them in 2013 in the finals and beat then again for all the marbles in 2014…Cal Foote is the next player to blow out candles. Foote turns 17 on December 13th. December birthdays are rare on the Rockets roster. The last December birthday was Cody Chikie and Filip Vasko when the two suited up for the team during the 2011-2012 campaign….The Rockets are rated as the 6th best team in the country according to the CHL Top 10 rankings this week. The Rockets were rated 5th at the start of the season….Six of Justin Kirkland’s eight goals have been scored on the road this season…. Nick Merkley was the WHL POW last week. Merkley had 4+4=8 in three wins….Jackson Whistle has started 12 of the last 15 games…Tyson Baillie has averaged 28 goals over his last three seasons…The Rockets next play three games in three nights January 29th, 30th and 31st with two of those three games on home ice….The Rockets had two players taken in the NHL draft. Nick Merkley was taken in the first round by Arizona. Devante Stephens was chosen in the 5th round by Buffalo…Cole Linaker (Oilers), Tomas Soustal (Flames) and Tyson Baillie (Flames) all received free agent tryouts.
Who’s Hot: Rodney Southam has three goals in his last five games and 3+3=6 in his last five…Tanner Wishnowski has two goals in his last three games….Nick Merkley has 4+5=9 in 6 games in the month of November….Kole Lind has 2+3=5 in his last four games…Tyson Baillie has 7+17=24 in his last 13 games …Dillon Dube has 8+10=18 in his last 9 games and has collected 15 points in his last eight games….Lucas Johansen has four more point this season as he did all of last year.