Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets close out the first half of the season (36 games) tonight when they face the Kamloops Blazers. The Rockets also play the final game of seven consecutive on the road. The team just completed a six game in nine night Eastern Division road trip prior to the Christmas breaking by winning three of six games. The team earned wins in Regina, Moose Jaw and Swift Current and suffered losses in Brandon, Prince Albert and Saskatoon. Following tonight’s game the Rockets return to Prospera Place for the first time since December 5th when they host the Blazers in the back end of a home and home series between the two BC Division rivals. After these two games against the Blazers, the Rockets won’t see them for another 27 games when they collide on March 4th. The Rockets have won 20 of their last 27 games overall (20-6-0-1) and are 12-2-0-0 on home ice and 13-7-1-0 on the road. Overall; the Rockets have points in 17 of 21 games (16-4-1-0). Overall, the team has won six of its last nine games but has lost two straight.
Home Ice Success: The Rockets are riding an eight game home ice winning streak. The team’s last loss at Prospera Place was October 30th against the Prince George Cougars (2-1 L). In seven of those eight games, the team has scored four or more goals. In those eight home ice wins, the team has allowed three or more goals only once when beat Lethbridge 5-3.
Oh Canada! Rourke Chartier is in Finland representing Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. The Rockets have been well represented at the World Juniors. Madison Bowey, Josh Morrissey and GM Bruce Hamilton came home with a gold medal last year from the prestigious tournament. Other notable players from the Rockets that have played for Canada include: Jamie Benn, Tyler Myers, Brandon McMillan, Tyson Barrie, Luke Schenn, Blake Comeau, Shea Weber, Josh Gorges, Chuck Kobasew, Brett McLean and Robb Gordon. Chartier is the 14th player from the Rockets to play for Team Canada.
Seasonal Series vs. Blazers: Outside of one game, two of the three between the Rockets and Blazers have been decided by a single goal. The Rockets were a 4-3 winner on September 25th and squeezed out a 4-3 overtime win in their last visit to Kamloops on November 18th. Back on September 26th the Rockets earned a 7-3 victory at Sandman Centre.
Whistle Racking Up Winning Record: Twenty year-old Jackson Whistle is going after his 86th career win in a Kelowna Rockets uniform this evening. Here are the franchise leaders:
1) Adam Brown: 107 wins
2) Jordan Cooke: 92 wins
3) Jackson Whistle: 85 wins
4) Kelly Guard: 83 wins
This and That: Tyson Baillie is playing in career game #295 this evening….Jackson Whistle played in five of the six games on the Eastern Division road trip. The only game he did not start was a 6-3 victory in Swift Current….Tyson Baillie’s hat-trick December 15th in Swift Current was the first of his WHL career in his 291st career game…The Rockets are rated as the 5th best team in the country after being ranked 4th best for four consecutive weeks in the CHL Top 10 rankings….Tomas Soustal is playing for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Hockey Championships.…Calvin Thurkauf is representing Switzerland at the World Junior’s….The Rockets play 12 games in December with 7 of those 12 on the road…Three members of the Rockets have been rated by NHL Central Scouting. Lucas Johansen and Dillon Dube are rated as ‘B’ prospects for June’s draft in Buffalo. Tomas Soustal, who was not selected last year, is ranked as a ‘C’ prospect…Rookie Gordie Ballhorn leads the Rockets with a +17 ratings….Nine of Justin Kirkland’s 12 goals have been scored on the road this season….Jackson Whistle has started 23 of the last 29 games…The Rockets receive relief from the schedule maker when they play 9 of 10 at home from January 19th to February 8th….Cole Linaker has 96 career points…Lucas Johansen is playing in career game #98.
Who’s Hot: Tyson Baillie has points in 22 of his last 25 games……Justin Kirkland has points in 9 of his last 14 games. Kirkland has 4+12=16 over that period…Cole Linaker has points in 7 of his last 13 games. Linaker has 4+5=9 over that stretch…Dillon Dube has 12+16=28 in his last 21 games….Lucas Johansen has 11 more point this season as he did all of last year.