Saturday, December 9, 2017

Rockets/Wheat Kings preview

Liam Kindree - Shoot the Breeze Photography
Game Night Preview: May the force be with you! The Kelowna Rockets face the Brandon Wheat Kings for the one and only time this season. These two teams met last season in Kelowna (Dec 3rd) with the Rockets earning a 3-1 win. Nick Merkley scored the ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ goal while Brodan Salmond made 17 saves in the victory. The Rockets last appearance in Brandon was December 12, 2015 in a 5-1 loss. Lucas Johansen scored the lone goal for the visitors, who were out-shot 41-36 in the game. The last win in Brandon came December 13, 2013 in a 6-5 overtime win. Trailing 5-3 with 2:20 remaining, the Rockets made it a 5-4 game with :38 seconds remaining and then tied it with 9 seconds left in regulation time. Myles Bell won it in overtime at 2:52.

Eastern Division Success: The Rockets were 3-3-0-0 in 2015. The team was an impressive 6-0-0-0 in 2013 and 2-2-0-2 in 2011. They were 3-3-0-0 in 2009. In 2007, the team played only five games on an Eastern Division swing (excluding Swift Current) in December and sported a record of 3-1-0-1. The last time the Rockets failed to go on its bi-annual Eastern Division road trip was 2005. In 2003, the team was 5-0-0-0 but again did not play Swift Current on that road swing. In 2001, the team was 0-4-1-0 in five games.

Eastern Conference Roady: The team is playing game two of an Eastern Division road trip, which started last night in Regina. The team is in Moose Jaw Tuesday December 12th, Wednesday December 13th in Swift Current, December 15th in Prince Albert and concludes December 16th in Saskatoon.  The Rockets were 3-3-0-0 in the 6 games in 2015-2016 with wins in Regina, Swift Current and Moose Jaw. The team is playing 6 games in 9 nights.

Broadcasters Notebook: Leif Mattson was acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings October 6, 2016 for an 8th round bantam pick. Mattson, one of only two Manitoba born player on the roster, was an 8th round bantam pick of the Wheat Kings in 2014 …Kyle Topping and Libor Zabrasky are both rated as ‘C’ prospects for June’s NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting. Topping was not on the ‘Players to Watch’ list in October before appearing in November’s rankings…The Rockets have won 10 straight games on home ice with wins over Portland, Tri City, Prince George (twice), Vancouver, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Kootenay….The Rockets played their 16 hundredth regular season game in franchise history November 3rd in Victoria in a 4-2 win……The Rockets are 4 and 2 in overtime with game winners coming from Kole Lind, Dillon Dube Carsen Twarynski (twice). The only loss in OT came against the Tri City Americans and Portland Winterhawks…The Rockets are 7-3-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games….The Rockets are 9-3-0-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets are 12-0-0-1 when leading after 2 periods…The Rockets are 14-1-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game…Dillon Dube, Cal Foote and Kole Lind will leave for the Hockey Canada’s main camp following tonight’s game against the Wheat Kings. The Rockets have sent 15 players to represent Canada in the prestigious event including five staff. Marcel Comeau and Marc Habscheid were head coaches while Ryan Huska was an assistant. Jeff Truitt was a video coach for Canada. Scott Hoyer and Jeff Thorburn were members of Hockey Canada’s training staff.

Hockey Hotbed: 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.

Milestones: Head Coach Jason Smith coached his 100th career regular season game against the Kootenay Ice on December 2nd…Carsen Twarynski played in his 200th career game October 28th against the Prince George Cougars…James Hilsendager plays in his 200th career game November 14th vs. Oil Kings. 

Roster Stats:
Player total: 26
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1997) – 3   Ballhorn, Twarynski, Hilsendager           
19’s (1998) - 5   Salmond, Lind, Dube, Cal Foote, Chizen
18’s (1999) - 6   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell, Skvrne
17’s (2000) - 10  Porter, Foote, Belcourt, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, McGauley, Kushniryk, Pow, Hair
16’s (2001) - 2   Korczak, Basran
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

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