Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play game two of three straight in the Central Division with a stop in Edmonton to face the Oil Kings. These two teams met twice last season, with the Rockets winning 5-3 on October 2/15 in Edmonton before skating to a 6-1 win in Kelowna on November 20/15. The Rockets are 4-1-0-2 in his last 7 games between the two teams. The Rockets visit the Red Deer Rebels tomorrow night. The Rockets are coming off a 6-3 win in Lethbridge Wednesday night. Calvin Thurkauf scored twice and added an assist and was named the 1st star. Tomas Soustal, Jordan Borstmayer, Gordie Ballhorn and Kole Lind added singles in the team’s first road win of the season. Michael Herringer made 24 saves while the power play struck twice on four opportunities. The win also snapped a three game losing streak. The Rockets are technically playing their fifth of six straight games on the road. The next home action for the Rockets is Friday October 14th against the visiting Saskatoon Blades.
Smith’s Homecoming: Kelowna Rockets Head Coach Jason Smith returns to Edmonton, a place he made home for 7 seasons with the Oilers. Smith was the captain of the Oilers for five of those seven seasons and helped the team to Stanley Cup birth in 2006. Smith was traded to the Oilers by the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3, 1999. Smith is tied with Wayne Gretzky for the longest serving captain (5 seasons) in Oilers history.
Broadcasters Bits: The Rockets have acquired 17 year-old forward Leif Mattson from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a 9th round bantam pick. Mattson, from Thompson, Manitoba, was the Wheat Kings 8th round selection in 2014…Nick Merkley returned to the line-up Wednesday night after attending the training camp of the Arizona Coyotes….Merkley is three points shy of 200 for his career…Calvin Thurkauf has three-two goals games his career. The 18 year-old had two goals last season against Everett and Vancouver…The Rockets are 2-4-0-0 this season after 6 games. Last season the team was 4-2-0-0 after 6 games….The Rockets lead the WHL in penalty minutes with 127….The Rockets have been shorthanded a league high 44 times….Rookie Kyle Topping has three assists in six games…Calvin Thurkauf and Lucas Johansen returned to the lineup last Friday in Prince George after attending NHL training camps in Columbus and Washington respectively…The Rockets were 3 and 2 in five pre-season games. Jake Kryski and Kole Lind led the team in pre-season points with 8 each….Nine members of the Rockets participated in NHL training camps. Tomas Soustal and Gordie Ballhorn earned tryouts with Edmonton and Dallas respectively. Nick Merkley (Arizona), Lucas Johansen (Washington), Dillon Dube (Calgary), Devante Stephens (Buffalo), Calvin Thurkauf (Columbus), Braydyn Chizen (Minnesota) and Justin Kirkland (Nashville) are all drafted players.
Three Identified by NHLCS: Three members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s ‘Player’s to Watch List’. Defenceman Cal Foote is an ‘A’ prospect. Kole Lind is a ‘B’ prospect while defenceman Jonathan Smart is a ‘C’ prospect. The NHL draft is this June in Chicago. Foote’s father, Adam, was a second round pick of the Quebec Nordiques (22nd overall) in 1989. Adam Foote played his junior hockey with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Smith Guides Team: The Kelowna Rockets made a head coaching change at seasons end. After just one year on the job, Brad Ralph parted ways with the team on May 9th. Then on July 6th, Jason Smith was hired as Brad Ralph’s replacement. Smith is the Rockets fourth coach in the last four years. Smith, who retired September 2, 2009, played 16 seasons in the NHL before joining the coaching staff of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, a role Smith has held for the last four seasons’.
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3 Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 7 Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Wishnowski, Coughlin, Ballhorn
18’s – 7 Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s - 5 C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart
16’s – 2 N. Foote, Belcourt
Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150