Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Things that make you go hmm...

Justin Kirkland
  • The Justin Kirkland watch continues. The 20 year-old was a healthy scratch as the Milwaukee Admirals opened the American Hockey League season on the weekend with back-to-back wins. Kirkland, who is signed by the Nashville Predators, is expected to play this season with the Admirals. The theory is if Predators management believe he may need more seasoning, instead of dumping him in the East Coast Hockey League, he would returned to the WHL for his overage season. The fact that Kirkland didn't play in either game on the weekend makes the situation even more intriguing.
  • Where is Myles Bell playing this season? I will tell you later down the column. 
  • The Rockets don't often lose two home games on back-to-back nights, but it happened Friday and Saturday with setbacks to the visiting Saskatoon Blades and Swift Current Broncos. When was the last time he Rockets came away empty handed without even recording a loser point thanks to a overtime or shootout loss? The Rockets lost back-to-back home games against the Portland Winterhawks on February 8/9, 2013 by scores of 5-3 and 5-1. 
  • The Kelowna Rockets elected to trade 19 year-old Tanner Wishnowski to the Spokane Chiefs for 16 year-old prospect Colum McGauley. McGauley will play Junior B this season in Nelson, BC after winning a Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League title last season with the Notre Dame Hounds. In subsequent weeks, the Rockets have traded or released two players that they listed, not drafted in the WHL bantam draft. Tate Coughlin, who was released by the team, and Wishnowski were both listed players by the organization. If you include Danny Gatenby to the mix, who was traded to the Kamloops Blazers, management has moved three players this season that were listed by director of player personnel Lorne Frey. 
  • How rare are trades between the Rockets and Chiefs? Very. Up until Monday's deal, the last time the two were trading partners was January 8, 2004 when the Rockets obtained the playing right to college bound Jeff Tambellini. That was basically 12 years between trades involving the Western Conference rivals. I guess we can expect another one between Kelowna and Spokane in 2028?
  • While the Rockets 3-7-0-0 start is concerning, it really isn't that uncommon in these parts. Last season the team was 6-4-0-0 after 10 games. Both in 2011-2012 and again in 2012-2013, the team had identical records of 4-5-0-1. The worst 10 game start in recent memory was 2006-2007 when the Rockets were a dismal 2-7-0-1.
  • Am I worried with the 3-7-0-0 start to the season? Let's remember we are not even a month into the season yet. The puck only dropped for real on September 23rd. Talk to me on November 28th and we will have a better gauge of where we are headed.  
  • Two players on the visiting Swift Current Broncos roster Saturday night should give anyone hope if they fail to hear their name at the NHL draft. Lane Pederson attended Arizona Coyotes camp as a free agent and signed an entry level deal with the NHL club. Teammate Colby Sissons story may be even  better. Sissons wasn't selected in the WHL draft nor the NHL draft. The defenceman ended up attending the NJ Devils training camp, again on a tryout, and ended up being offered a three year deal. Those two players alone are reason enough to believe that not being selected in the NHL draft doesn't mean the dream is over.
  • Speaking of the Broncos, are they not the Prince George Cougars of the Eastern Conference? I don't think anyone expected the Broncos to be at the top of the standings in what was considered a year of rebuilding. That said, the Broncos do have a glut of 19 year-old players but just one overager. The PG Cougars are atop the Western Conference and many believed they would contend for a BC Division title, but no one would have forecasted a start that saw them win 10 of their first 12 games. 
  • An interesting observation from a out of towner who attended weekend games at Prospera Place. Once considered to be one of the best arena's in the WHL, the individual remarked that the building, which is now 19 year-old, is looking quite tired and needs upgrading. Can't argue with that. Essentially the building has seen little in the way of improvement, to the untrained eye, outside of a can of paint. RG Properties, which owns and operates the building, will hand it over to the city of Kelowna in 2029. Surely, it won't take that long for a renovation of the building until then? It is in dire need of better dressing room facilities for the visiting team. Trust me, visiting trainers tell me Prospera Place is one of the worst set ups for them of the 21 other rinks they visit. As for the cramped press box.....  
  • If you are creeping through my Twitter feed (ReganRants) you will notice Saskatoon Blades GM Colin Priestner sent me a quick note. Appreciate the gesture.  
  • Remember Myles Bell? Sure you do. Bell had 38 goals in 2012-2013 and then scored 42 times in 2013-2014 after being acquired from the Regina Pats. Bell is now playing senior men's hockey with the Lacombe Generals and is chasing the Allan Cup along with former Kelowna Rockets forward Zach Franko. You may remember last season, Carter Rigby scored the game winning goal for the Generals in the Allan Cup finals. Rigby is now an assistant coach with the Summerland Steam of the KIJHL.  
  • In the QMJHL, already 30 games have seen crowds of under 2,000 fans. In the WHL? Only 11 games have seen less than 2 grand. Kootenay (5), Swift Current (4) and PA (2) lead the way. 

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