|Shoot the Breeze Photography|
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open their final home stand before the Christmas break with three games at Prospera Place. The Kootenay Ice provides the opposition in a rare meeting between two teams that used to have a long playoff history before the Ice moved to the Central Division. These teams met once last season, January 31st in Cranbrook, where the Rockets earned a 5-1 win. Rourke Chartier, Leon Draisaitl, Cole Martin and Gage Quinney scored first period goals in the win. Jackson Whistle made 25 saves in the victory. The Ice hasn’t made an appearance in Kelowna since the December 7, 2013. In that game, Myles Bell scored the game winner in the third period while Jackson Whistle was named the 1st star with a 30 save effort. The Rockets are coming off a split after visiting the Victoria Royals on the weekend. The Rockets won the opening game Friday 3-1, before losing Saturday’s rematch 5-1. The Rockets have won 14 of their last 18 games overall (14-3-0-1) and are 9-2-0-0 on home ice and 10-4-1-0 on the road. Overall; the Rockets have points in 11 of 12 games (10-1-1-0). The Rockets home stand continues Friday against Medicine Hat and Saturday vs. Portland.
World Junior Bound? Nick Merkley and Rourke Chartier have been named to the selection camp roster for Hockey Canada’s World Junior team. Both players attended the summer evaluation camp with Merkley playing for the WHL in the Canada-Russia Challenge last month in Kelowna and Kamloops. Chartier was unable to play because of injury. Ex-Rockets goaltender Jordan Cooke was named to the university team that will face Hockey Canada’s junior team in two exhibition games December 12th and 13th. The upcoming World Juniors are in Finland at Christmas.
November Notables: Tyson Baillie had 7+11=18 in the month of November. Nick Merkley had 7+8=15 in the month while Justin Kirkland had 4+10=14. Kole Lind had 5+4=9. Cole Linaker had 3+7=10 in November.
Tyson Baillie hits record books: Tyson now has 260 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.
This and That: The Rockets play 12 games in December with 7 of those 12 on the road. That includes a Saskatchewan/Manitoba road trip that begins next Friday in Regina and ends December 19th in Saskatoon. The Rockets will play those six games in 9 nights… 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…Baillie has points in 14 of his last 15 games…Baillie has been held off the score sheet in just five of 25 games this season…Rookie Gordie Ballhorn leads the Rockets with a +14 rating…Rodney Southam is two goals shy from his career high 7 goals he scored last season…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 4th 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….Seven of Justin Kirkland’s nine goals have been scored on the road this season….Jackson Whistle has started 16 of the last 20 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: Justin Kirkland has a 5 game point streak with 1+9=10 over that period…Cole Linaker has a modest 4 game point streak with 1+4=5 over that period.….Nick Merkley has points in four of his last five games. Merkley has 3+4=7 over that stretch…Tomas Soustal has two more points (20) than he had all of last season….Tomas Soustal has points in five of his last six games. Soustal has 4+3=7 over that period…Kole Lind has 4+4=8 in his last 9 games…Tyson Baillie has 11+23=34 in his last 18 games …Dillon Dube has 8+10=18 in his last 12 games….Lucas Johansen has 5 more point this season as he did all of last year.