Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rockets/Blazers game notes

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the surging Kamloops Blazers in a BC Division showdown tonight at Prospera Place. This is the third meeting of the season, with the teams splitting the first two games. The Blazers roared to a 9-2 win on September 23rd before the Rockets regrouped for a 5-1 home ice win a night later. Following tonight’s game, we won’t see the Blazers until December 27th. The Rockets are riding high in the saddle with a six game winning streak after two victories in Portland on the weekend. Tomas Soustal scored the game winning goal with just over 8 minutes left in the third period in Sunday’s 3-2 win. Brodan Salmond made 42 saves for his first win of the season. Nick Merkley and Rodney Southam added singles in the 9th win of the season. That victory came on the heels of a 5-3 win against the Winterhawks Saturday night. Devante Stephens had the hat trick. During this six game winning streak, the Rockets have beaten Everett (4-3 OT), Tri City (4-2), Seattle (5-1), Victoria (6-4) and Portland (5-3) and (3-2). Following this game, the team is in Vancouver Friday night (Langley) before hosting the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday.

Winning Ways: The Rockets have out-scored the opposition 27-15 during the six game winning streak. Only two of the six games have been decided by a single goal. The Rockets have scored four or more goals in 5 of the 6 games with the power play striking for no less than a goal in four of the six games. The power play is 7 for 26 (27%) over that stretch while the penalty killing until has allowed 4 goals against in 31 kills. This winning streak (6 games) is the longest since 2014-2015 when the team started the season 10-0-0-0.
Octoberfest: After starting the month of October with a 3-0 shutout loss in Prince George (October 1st) the team was able to win 8 of their next 11 to close out the month of October. In November, the Rockets play 10 games with six of them on home ice. Six of those 10 will be played against BC Division based teams including a visit to Victoria on November 20th and 22nd. The Rockets also enjoy a visit from Prince Albert on November 12th and Regina on November 26th, where they face Eastern Division teams they have failed to beat so far this season after losses to visiting Swift Current and Saskatoon.
Broadcasters Bits: Five of the Rockets next six games are on home ice. The only road game over that stretch is Friday in Vancouver….Devante Stephens and Jake Kryski each played in their 150th career games Sunday in Portland….The Rockets are 5-0-0-0 against U.S Division teams this season...Devante Stephens three goals Saturday in Portland were the first by a Rockets d-man since Riley Stadel scored three goals vs. Lethbridge in 2013..Nick Merkley has been named an associate captain for Team WHL, which will face the Russian Selects in the CHL Canada Russia Series….The Rockets have opened the scoring in three of the last five games….The Rockets have carried the lead into the third period in five of the last six  games….Sixteen year-old Nolan Foote won’t play in tonight’s game. Foote is one of 66 players participating in the 2016 Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario October 27th to November 5th. Assistant Travis Crickard is a video coach for Team Canada at the event …Veteran 20 year-old Michael Herringer was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week from October 17th to October 23rd. Herringer went 3-0-0-0, posting a goals against average of 1.99….Three members of the Kelowna Rockets will represent the WHL and Hockey Canada, at the CHL Canada-Russia series. Team WHL, who’s roster consists of Nick Merkley, Dillon Dube and Cal Foote, will compete against the Russian Selects in games November 7th in Prince George and November 8th in Edmonton. The Rockets 
Who’s Hot?: Tomas Soustal has goals in three straight games and has 4+2=6 over that period…Calvin Thurkauf has a three game point streak (2+3=5)…Kole Lind has points in six straight games (2+8=10)…Nick Merkley has goals in back-to-back games…16 year-old Nolan Foote has points in three straight games (2+1=3)..The team has scored shorthanded goals in back-to-back games…Merkley has points in 5 of his last 6 games (2+4=6).

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s – 3   Stadel, Herringer, Southam
19’s – 6   Johansen, Merkley, Soustal, Stephens, Ballhorn
18’s – 7   Dube, Kryski, Lind, Borstmayer, Chizen, Salmond, Thurkauf
17’s -  6   C. Foote, Topping, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Smart, Mattson
16’s – 2   N. Foote, Belcourt

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

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