|Rebels HC Brent Sutter - Shoot the Breeze|
Tonight’s Preview: Welcome to the final five weeks of the regular season. The Kelowna Rockets close out the busy month of February with three of six games on home ice. The Red Deer Rebels pay a visit tonight in the third meeting of the season between the two teams. The seasonal series is deadlocked at one win apiece after the Rockets were a 5-4 winner on home ice (Oct 14th ) but lost in Red Deer by a 7-4 score (Oct 3rd). The Rockets are coming off a double header sweep in Prince George on the weekend. In Saturday’s 6-4 victory, rookie Brodan Samond made 30 saves for his first career WHL victory in his first WHL start. Justin Kirkland had two goals while Tyson Baillie had a goal and two assists. In the big picture, the Rockets have won 35 of their last 49 games overall and are 22-4-2-0 on home ice and 17-11-1-0 on the road. The Rockets have points in 33 of 44 games (30-10-3-0). The team has won 20 of its last 31 games. After tonight’s game, the Rockets host Vancouver Friday before facing the Giants at Pacific Coliseum Saturday night.
Going for 40! The Kelowna Rockets will be looking for their 40th win of the season tonight against the Rebels. Only one other team has 40 wins this season. The Lethbridge Hurricanes hold that distinctive honour. The Rockets are trying to win 40 games for the 10th time in its 25 seasons in the WHL. It would also mark the fourth consecutive season the club has hit the benchmark.
The race to 1st place: With 15 games left in the regular season, the Kelowna Rockets are tied with the Lethbridge Hurricanes for first place overall. The team hasn’t earned the WHL regular season title since 2013-2014. Of those 15 games, 8 will be played on home ice. The Hurricanes also have 15 games remaining with 8 of those on home ice. In 2013-2014 the Rockets needed no less than 114 points to earn the regular season title. The Rockets had 118 points that season while second place Portland had 113 points.
Number Crunching: The Rockets are 9-2-0-0 in their last 11 regular season games against the Rebels….The Rockets are one of only three teams in the WHL that have not lost when leading after 40 minutes. The Rockets are 27-0-2-0. The Kamloops Blazers and Prince Albert Raiders are also without a regulation loss after two periods…Rourke Chartier hit the 100 goal plateau for his career this weekend with three goals Friday in a 4-3 overtime win in Prince George. Chartier now has 102 career goals and 198 career points…The Rockets are a combined 53-17-8-0 against BC Division teams on the road in the last five seasons…The Rockets are 21-2-1-0 when Tyson Baillie scores. The only regulation losses when the 20 year-old finds the back of the net were against Red Deer and Saskatoon…..The Rockets are attempting to become the first team to reach the 50 win plateau in four straight seasons. For that to happen, the team must win 11 of their final 15 games or they can suffer only 4 more regular losses in order to hit the 50 win mark… The Rockets have scored the first goal in 32 of 57 games this season. When they accomplish that goal, they are an impressive 26-3-3-0…The Rockets have 15 games left in the regular season. Of those 15 games, 8 will be played on home ice. Of those 15 games, 10 are against BC Division rivals…The Rockets have been out-shot in 38 of 57 games this season.
Who’s Hot: Rourke Chartier has points in 14 of his last 21 games. Over that period, the 19 year-old has 15+10=25...Dillon Dube has 22 goals this season which is a career high….Dube has 8+18=18 in his last 21 games…Tyson Baillie has 8+10=18 in his last 16 games….Tyson Baillie has points in 35 of his last 45 games and has been held off the score-sheet 14 times this season…Justin Kirkland has points in 10 of his last 16 games. Kirkland has 11+9=20 over that period.
This and That: Jackson Whistle has missed 19 games with a lower body injury….The Rockets added 17 year-old goaltender Brody Salmond for the remainder of the season. Salmond was the Rockets 10th round bantam pick in the 2010 WHL draft and was playing this season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Camrose Kodiaks. Salmond is the son of Hockey Canada’s Scott Salmond. Scott Salmond had a brief stint with the Kelowna Spartans in 1990-91…The Rockets are rated this week as the 7th best team in the CHL Top 10 rankings. Last week they were also rated 6th …The Rockets play 13 games in 25 nights in the month of February…Only one birthday to celebrate in February. Tomas Soustal turned 19 on Monday…The Kelowna Rockets named 19 year-old Rodney Southam as the franchises 22nd captain on January 25th. Southam was acquired in November, 2014 from the Tri City Americans for a 5th round bantam draft pick.