|Dillon Dube - Shoot the Breeze Photography|
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets are in their 27th year of existence since coming into the Western Hockey League as an expansion franchise in 1991. After four seasons in Tacoma, the team relocated to Kelowna in 1995-96, where the team has spent the last 22 years in the Okanagan. The team has four WHL championships (2003, 2005, 2009, 2015) and have missed the playoffs only once in their existence. The hockey club has made four straight appearances in the Western Conference final and has registered 40 or more wins in five consecutive seasons.
Instant Offense: Forward Dillon Dube returns to the line-up tonight after attending the training camp of the Calgary Flames. Dube participated in three NHL pre-season games. Dube was chosen in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft, 56th overall by the Flames. Dube is two points shy of 150 points for his career and is 15 assists shy of 100. The Rockets chose Dube with their 1st pick in the 2013 WHL bantam draft where 20 players were taken before him. Born in Golden, BC, Dube had 21 points in 17 playoff games last season. The well-spoken forward is attempting to become the first Rockets player to represent Canada twice at the world junior hockey championships.
Broadcasters Notebook: Kole Lind leads the WHL in scoring with (3+5=8) 8 points in two games…Cal Foote leads all defenceman in scoring with 6 points (1+5=6)….The Rockets boast one first round NHL draft pick and two second rounders. Cal Foote was chosen 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in June while Kole Lind (2nd round (33RD) Canucks - 2017) and Dillon Dube (2nd round (56th) Flames - 2016) were picked in the second round….Nolan Foote, last season’s rookie of the year, is not eligible to be drafted until June 2019….Rookie defenceman Libor Zabrasky’s father played in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues…Zabransky played for the Czech Republic at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August. Nolan Foote was a member of the gold medal Canadian team…Rookie Kaeden Korczak was a Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League all-star last season with the Yorkton Maulers….Rookie Liam Kindree was the BC Major Midget Hockey League scoring champion last season with the Vancouver Northwest Giant (67 points in 40 games).
Milestones: Kole Lind is 10 assists shy of 100 for his career…Lind is two games shy of 150 for his career…Cal Foote’s next point will be the 100th of his career…Cal Foote is 6 games shy of 150 for his career…James Hilsendager has played a team high 183 WHL regular season games.
Rockets Review: The Rockets were 45-22-0-5 last season which was good for second place in the BC Division with 95 points, one fewer than division leading Prince George. The team had the 6th best winning percentage in the WHL while scoring the third most goals and allowing the fourth fewest goals against. The Rockets won 22 road games, the second most in the Western Conference behind only the Cougars (23). Kole Lind was the teams scoring champion (30+57=87) with Lind leading the team in assists (57) and MVP Calvin Thurkauf leading the charge with 33 goals. The hockey club made it all the way to the third round of the playoffs before eventually losing in 6 games to WHL champion Seattle.
Who’s Gone? The team lost seven significant players following the 2016-2017 season. Calvin Thurkauf (33 goals and 70 points) is playing pro hockey with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nick Merkley (63 points in 63 games) is playing pro with the Arizona Coyotes. Captain Rodney Southam graduated and is playing with the Acadia Axemen. Lucas Johansen is with the Washington Capitals organization while Reid Gardiner, acquired at last year’s trade deadline for a first round bantam pick, signed an American Hockey League deal with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Overage goaltender Michael Herringer is playing with the Regina Cougars (U Sports) this season.
Player total: 26
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 5 Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager, Soustal Stephens (signed)
19’s (1998) - 4 Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 7 Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Porter, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 9 Nolan Foote, Belcourt, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 1 Korczak,
NHL Drafted Players: Cal Foote (Tampa Bay 2017), Kole Lind (Vancouver 2017), Dillon Dube (Calgary 2016), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia 2016), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota 2016).
Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150