|www.shootthebreeze.ca (Marissa Baecker photo)|
Tonight’s Preview: Welcome to the final month of the Western Hockey League regular season. The Kelowna Rockets have 9 games left before the playoffs, with seven of those at Prospera Place. The team is coming off a three game weekend where they beat Kamloops (8-2), lost in Seattle (5-3) and earned a (9-5) four goal win in Spokane on Sunday. The team faces the Prince George Cougars tonight for the 8th and final time this season. The team is 3-5-0-0 in the seasonal series, having beaten the Cougars in the last three meetings. The scores were 3-2 (Feb 3rd), 5-1 (Feb 4th) and 5-2 (Feb 18th). The two teams are separated by 6 points in the BC Division standings with the Rockets still holding a game in hand. The team has 10 wins in the last 13 games (10-2-1-0) while earning a point in 8 of their last 9 games (7-1-1-0). Following tonight’s game, the Rockets are in Everett Friday before host Tri City Saturday night. The Rockets have scored 46 goals in their last 9 games.
Fantastic in February: The Rockets compiled a record of 10-2-1-0 in 13 games in 26 days in February. Of those 13 games, the team managed to score 5 or more goals 8 times. Overall, the team scored 74 goals or 5.7 goals per game. Nick Merkley (10+11=21) and Dillon Dube (6+15=21) were the top scorers during the month. Kole Lind had 20 points while Reid Gardiner had 19. The big surprise was Devante Stephens and Rodney Southam. Stephens had (3+11=14) 14 points while Southam (6+7=13) earned 13 points in those 13 games.
Streak’n: Reid Gardiner enters tonight’s game riding a 9 game point streak. Gardiner has 5+8=13 over that stretch. The 21 year-old also has goals in three straight games. Gardiner is also 5 points shy of 250 for his WHL career. Rodney Southam is riding a 6 game point streak (6+6=12) while Dillon Dube has a five game point streak (4+7=11). Dube also has a goal in four straight games.
That’s a fact Jack: The Rockets have 79 points this season with 18 available points over the final 9 regular season games. The most points the team can earn this season is 97, which puts them three shy of the 100 point barrier the team has reached in each of the last four seasons…The Rockets have played 34 road games this season, with two more stops in Everett and Vancouver…The Rockets have now won 20 or more road games in five consecutive seasons. The last time they failed to hit 20 wins was in 2011-2012 when they won 15 games away from Prospera Place… Kole Lind has the 3rd most points by a 17 year-old draft eligible player in Kelowna Rockets franchise history. Lind has 78 points, which is one shy of Brett McLean (79) and 11 shy of matching the 90 points that franchise leader Nick Merkley put up in his 17 year-old season in 2014-2015…The Rockets have lost their last 4 overtime games …The 56 shots the Rockets put up against the Vancouver Giants February 10th were a season high….The 15 shots the team surrendered February 22nd against the Edmonton Oil Kings was a season low…The Rockets have generated 30 or more shots in 22 of their last 24 games…The Rockets have surrendered 5 or more goals 13 times this season. The teams’ record, not surprisingly, is 1-11-2-0.
Go, Go Goal Scoring: Calvin Thurkauf has points in 18 of his last 21 games. Thurkauf has 13+14=27 over that stretch. Kole Lind has points in 13 of his last 17 with 8+17=25 over that period. Nick Merkley has points in 12 of his last 15 games with 11+15=25 over that span. Cal Foote has points in 11 of his last 16 games with 1+11=12. Reid Gardiner has points in 13 of his last 14 games with 9+11=20 over that stretch.
Broadcasters Bits: Coaches want to see their team getting better as the season goes along. The Kelowna Rockets lost 10 of first 21 regular season games. Since then, the team has 11 losses in the last 42 games… In the Rockets last 12 losses (regulation or overtime loss) the opposition has opened the scoring…The Rockets are 12-6-2-0 since the trade deadline The Rockets were 8-3-2-0 in December...The Rockets were 6-4-0-0 in 10 games in November after going 8-4-0-0 in 12 games in October…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL that has failed to surrender a shorthanded goal against this season…The Rockets are 15-12-0-0 against BC based teams this season…Michael Herringer has started in 40 of the last 52 games…The Rockets are 9-3-3-0 against U.S Division teams this season….Calvin Thurkauf has 58 points this season, the 5th most from a European born player in one season wearing Kelowna Rockets colours. The franchise leader is Tomas Slovak (86 in 2002-2003), followed by Vaclav Varada (85 in 1995-96). The third most points in one season put up by a European born player in one season is Jan Fadrny (77 in 2000-2001). Tomas Oravec (65 in 2000-2001) rounds out the top four.
Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150