Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Notes, quotes and anecdotes

Former Kelowna Rockets goalie Jordan Cooke 
  • A nice interview with veteran forward Cole Linaker last week when he reflected on playing his 200th WHL game. The 20 year-old spoke about the team-mates he has played with over the years. "We have such tight knitted teams since I have been here. All the big name guys, we have had so many, there is something about all of them. We haven't had many egotistical guys. I think that falls to Bruce's (Hamilton) credit. At the start of every year he always talks about wanting good guys and it will make us successful", Linaker told me while watching the Zamboni clean the ice at Prospera Place. "We have had a pretty humble group of guys over the years since I've been here. We have not had anyone that has held himself above the rest considering the impressive list of skilled guys we have had here. We have had skilled guys that could have but didn't. They were just part of the team and the success we have had over the last three years, it is in large credit to those skilled players for conforming to the teams beliefs and that's winning championships". Linaker added. 
  • Jordan Cooke is now a starting goaltender with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Cooke is off to great start with 9 wins in 11 games. Last season, Cooke's first year of university hockey, he shared goaltending duties which allowed him to play in 14 games where he posted a record of 5 and 9. 
  • Gage Quinney would like nothing more than to play well against his former team-mates. The 20 year-old has the first of six chances to show the Rockets that they shouldn't have traded him when his Kamloops Blazers face the Rockets tomorrow night at Sandman Centre. Quinney is a streaky player, who can light it up when he is on his game. A good example was Sunday night when he had 3+1=4 in the Blazers 9-1 win over visiting Prince George. You know Quinney will be motivated against his former team.     
  • The Vancouver Giants find themselves in the basement of the WHL's Western Conference and head coach Lorne Molleken isn't pleased. When I spoke with the veteran coach last week, he told me it is pivotal to keep a good attitude despite getting off to a tough start. "For me, it is staying positive and remaining positive. My message to the players is stay positive and don't get down on a team-mate. We just need a way to start scoring goals. I think Scott Bonner (GM) has done a nice job of bring in guys from winning programs."
  • You have to admire Molleken for the way he handled the Brendan Mennell situation. Mennell walked out on the team earlier this month and returned a short time later after reconsidering. Molleken could have made life miserable for the kid. He could have made him a healthy scratch for turning his back on the team. Instead. a more gentler Molleken has played the 18 year-old defenceman in every situation and is logging major minutes.
  • Tomas Soustal was playing with a load of confidence when the puck dropped on the 2015-2016 season. The sophomore forward had 6+5=11 in his first 9 games. In his last 9 games, Soustal has just two points 0+2=2.
  • If you are a draft eligible defenceman and you are trying to impress the NHL scouts watching, how can you not show them that you can hit? You don't need to crash into everyone around you like a bull in a china shop, but show even a touch of aggression. Let's face it, if you don't show it in major junior, how are you possibly going to compete playing that non-contact game at the pro level?
  • Gordie Ballhorn is making an early run for the Kelowna Rockets rookie of the year. In a horse race with Cal Foote, Ballhorn really competes hard. Sure, he makes mistakes. Who doesn't? I can overlook errors if you are competing hard all the time. In my eyes, Ballhorn's compete is among the best on the team.
  • The Rockets have hit the 20 game mark. At this time last year, Rourke Chartier had scored 22 goals. This season, because of injury, the San Jose Sharks draft pick has just three goals in seven games. 
  • No easy night's when Jackson Whistle is in goal. So far this season, the 20 year-old has faced 442 shots in 14 games. On average, Whistle faces 32 shots per game. Playing in 50 games last season, Whistle averaged 27.8 shots per game or essentially four fewer pucks coming his way. I would also suggest the quality of the shots are much greater this season. 
  • It isn't every day that a Kelowna Rockets prospect has the bragging rights of having a highly touted NHL draft pick living in his home. That was the case when defenceman Cal Foote was growing up in Denver, Colorado. Foote's family billeted Matt Duchene when he was drafted by the Avalanche and began his NHL career in 2009. "It was really cool. He had a lot of hype being the third overall pick. When Kelowna asked me to come out and play, Matt told me to go because he playing in the Ontario Hockey League.  Duchene played two seasons with the O-H-L's Brampton Battalion.  
  • Loved the quote from Prince George Head Coach Mark Holick Sunday after his team was drilled 9-1 in Kamloops. He told Gregg Drinnan, "We haven't pissed a drop in this building all season". 
  • I really liked watching the Canada-Russian Challenge featuring essentially the WHL All-Stars against the Russians. Sure, the game in Kelowna was a blowout, but the skill level was impressive. If we can't have an all-star game, this is about as close as we are going to get it at the WHL level. I will admit as the series moves further East, my interest in it has dropped significantly.
  • Leon Draisaitl. Fantastic in an Oilers uniform. What a privilege it was to call a handful of his games at the WHL level.

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