Kyle Beach Interview

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rockets game notes vs. Hitmen

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Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets wrap up a four game home stand tonight when they welcome the Calgary Hitmen to Prospera Place. This is the second and final meeting of the season between these two teams. The Rockets were a 6-2 winner in Calgary back on December 17th. It also marks the return of Jake Kryski, who was traded by the Rockets to the Hitmen at the trade deadline for Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round pick. Nick Merkley had 1+2=3 in a 5-4 loss Saturday night to the visiting Portland Winterhawks. Kyle Topping and Gordie Ballhorn also scored in the teams’ 19th loss of the season. The Rockets have 23 games left in the regular season and will play those games over the next 50 days. The Rockets travel to Prince George for back-to-back games this weekend. In the big picture, the Rockets are 4-7-2-0 in their last 13 games.     

January’s Top Performers: Kole Lind led the team with 10 points (2+8=10) in January. Calvin Thurkauf (5+4=9), Tomas Soustal/Nick Merkley (3+6=9) and Lucas Johansen (2+7=9) all had 9 points during the month. The Rockets were 4-5-2-0 in the month, which earned them 10 of an available 22 points in January.   

February Fever: The Rockets play 13 games in February. Those 13 games will be played over 26 nights. Seven of those 13 will be played on the road. Also, seven of those 13 will be against teams in the BC Division. Four will be played against teams in the U.S Division. The Rockets play three games in three night’s February 24th (Kamloops), February 25th (Seattle), February 26th (Spokane).

Counting Down: The Kelowna Rockets have 22 games left in the regular season. Of those 22, 13 of them are against BC Division rivals. The Rockets have five more games against Vancouver, four more vs. Prince George and two more against the Kamloops Blazers and Victoria Royals. The team has two more each against US Division Everett, Seattle and Spokane and a single against Tri City. Edmonton and Calgary are the only Central Division teams they face down the stretch.

Dare to Compare: The Rockets had a record of 34-13-3-0 (27-19-4-0 this season) after 50 games last season. The team was 19-3-2-0 (12-9-2-0 this season) on home ice. A season ago the team scored 180 (170 goals scored this season) goals and allowed 141 (154 goals against last season) against. Michael Herringer had played in just 25 games at the 49 game mark last season. Tyson Baillie was the leading scorer with 70 points.

That’s a Fact Jack: The Rockets have generated 30 or more shots in 10 of their last 11 gamesCalvin Thurkauf has points in 7 of his last 8 games (5+4=9) over that periodThe Rockets have been shorthanded the most times in the entire Canadian Hockey League. The team has been shorthanded 271 times…NHL Central Scouting has released its mid-term rankings. Cal Foote is dated 12th among North American skaters while Kole Lind is ranked 21st…Jack Cowell has 2+4=6 in his last 6 games. It took him 26 games to score his first-two goals of his WHL career……The Rockets have surrendered 5 or more goals 10 times this season. The teams’ record, not surprisingly, is 0-9-1-0 …Calvin Thurkauf has points in 11 of his last 14 games ….11 of the teams last 15 games have been decided by a goal …The Rockets are 16-9-4-0 in their last 29 games and have points in 18 of their last 26 (14-7-4-0).

Broadcasters Bits: Kole Lind hit the 100 point mark for his career last Saturday night with a four point effort. Lind joins Tomas Soustal and Dillon Dube, who both hit the milestone earlier this season.  Who’s next? Carsen Twarynski has 91 career points…Calvin Thurkauf will play in his 100th career game tonight against the Hitmen…Michael Herringer is 2 more starts shy of 100 for his career…GM Bruce Hamilton has
traded/released six players from the teams opening day roster…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …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 9-11-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 31 of the last 40 games…The Rockets are 8-2-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season.


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Sunday, January 29, 2017

January blues

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • The Kelowna Rockets picked a bad time to lose their first game of the season when leading after two periods. The Portland Winterhawks stormed back from a 4-1 deficit and scored the game winning goal with 3.8 seconds left in regulation time in a 5-4 comeback win. The Rockets were leading 4-3 after two period and were 19-0-1-0 when in that position. The game winning goal was a tough pill to swallow. Captain Rodney Southam lost a puck battle inside his own zone to Hawks forward Skyler McKenzie. The 5'8 forward sent the puck back to the bluer line where defenceman Brendan De Jong fired a shot towards the net that was tipped by teammate Joachim Blichfeld. The goal came after the Hawks killed off a two minute minor penalty to Blichfeld when he took a holding penalty with less than 4 minutes left in the third period. The Hawks have won three straight while the Rockets have lost back-to-back games.
  • The setback was the Rockets 4th in 6 games (1-4-1-0) and saw them fall to fourth place in the BC Division, two points back of third place Victoria and five points back of second place Kamloops. The Rockets are now in a wildcard spot which would mean a first round playoff series with the Everett Silvertips if the playoffs were to begin today.  
  • The Rockets end the month of January with a pedestrian 4-5-2-0 record. 
  • The Rockets have now lost 9 games on home ice this season. It is the most home losses dating back to the 2011-2012 campaign when the team lost 18 times at Prospera Place. Last season the team lost 6 times, while the year before they lost 8 games in front of the home town crowd. 
  • 11 of the last 15 games have been decided by a single goal.
  • The Rockets took 19 penalties in the two games on the weekend and surrendered 3 goals on 15 penalty killing opportunities. 
  • Nick Merkley was named the first star in Friday's 3-2 loss to Kamloops with a two assist effort and was the first star again in Saturday's 5-4 loss. Merkley played hard Saturday with Arizona Coyotes development coach Steve Sullivan watching closely in the stands.
  • The Rockets were 3-1-0-0 against the Winterhawks in the seasonal series after winning all four games between the two teams in 2015-2016.
  • Calvin Thurkauf will play his 100th game of his career Wednesday against visiting Calgary Hitmen.
  • Reid Gardiner had a goal in Saturday's loss and led the team with 8 shots on goal. 
  • The Rockets played Saturday's game without Carsen Twarynski, Cal Foote and Kole Lind. Twarynski is sick while Lind and Foote were traveling to Quebec City for Monday's CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.   

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Too many men on ice penalty proves costly

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • The Kelowna Rockets have been shorthanded a WHL high 265 times this season. That is tough to swallow. It is almost hard to fathom considering the Rockets are not a rough and tumble team that uses intimidation to wear down the opposition. What is hard to stomach is the team has also been shorthanded a Canadian Hockey League high 265 times. That is one statistic you never want to be leading in....ever. The Rockets penalty killing unit killed off 8 straight power plays, including a two man advantage, but ended up losing 3-2 Friday night to the visiting Kamloops Blazers. It was the bench minor penalty for too many men on the ice which gave the visitors that game changing 9th power play chances. It was on that power play that Blazers forward Rudolfs Balcers found the back of the net by picking up a rebound on a shot from the top of the left face-off circle from teammate Deven Sideroff. It was Balcers second goal of the game and 8th in the seasonal series for the rookie whiz kid. It was the Rockets 5th loss against the Blazers in 8 attempts this season and puts them 5 points in the rear view mirror in the fight for second place in the BC Division. The loss also puts them into a two way tie for third with the Victoria Royals, who were a 3-1 winner Friday night in Vancouver. 
  • Scoring the first goal is always important. For the 2016-2017 edition of the Kelowna Rockets it is pivotal. The numbers don't lie. The team has lost only twice when scoring the opening goal in 22 opportunities this season. When they don't, the team has only 8 wins 27 attempts. In Friday's loss, the Rockets surrendering the opening goal 90 seconds into the opening face-off. The Blazers had an answer every time the Rockets tied the score. The scores broke down this way: 1-0 (Blazers), 1-1, 2-1 (Blazers), 2-2 and ended 3-2 (Blazers).
  • While Blazers goaltender Connor Ingram received the second star in the building, I thought Michael Herringer made the more crucial saves. Herringer's stop on Lane Bauer on a two-on-one in the second period when the Blazers were leading 2-1 was massive. Herringer then stopped Deven Sideroff on a breakaway in the third period to keep the score tied at two. Ingram was good, but not spectacular in the one goal win. 
  • Nick Merkley was arguably the Rockets best skater with Calvin Thurkauf a close second. Merkley was buzzing and was a 'working bee' which makes him downright dangerous any time he is on the ice. Thurkauf too was noticeable and extended his point streak to career high 7 games with a goal and an assist. Sadly, outside of those two forwards, many of the Rockets big guns were pretty quiet. The line of Dillon Dube, Tomas Soustal and Kole Lind combined for only three shots on goal. I thought Cal Foote and Lucas Johansen had good games on the back end. Foote was a -2, but don't let that fool you. Foote logged the most ice time of any skater with over 27 minutes.
  • Sadly, the Rockets dominated the territorial play. At one point they had 13 consecutive shots on net after the Blazers took a 5-0 advantage on the shot clock to start the game.
  • The Rockets are now 9-11-0-0 against the BC Division, with almost half of those losses coming against the Blazers. For whatever reason, the Blazers know how to beat the Rockets, or are they beating themselves with excessive trips to the penalty box?  
  • The Blazers are averaging 6 power play chances per game against the Rockets so far this season. Of the penalties taken Friday night, three were for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass while two minor penalties were handed out for too many men on the ice. Losing the game when the linesman makes the call for too many men added even more salt in the wound at games end. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rockets vs. Blazers game notes

Shoot the  Breeze Photo
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets play game two of a four game home stand tonight when they welcome the Kamloops Blazers to Prospera Place. This is the 8th of 10 meetings between these teams this season. The Rockets are 3-4-0-0, having been out-scored 27-16. Of the 7 games in the seasonal series, the home team has won 6 of them. The Rockets host Portland tomorrow night before welcoming Calgary February 1st. The Rockets are coming off a 4-1 home ice win Saturday night over the Portland Winterhawks. Kole Lind had 2+2=4 while Braydyn Chizen and Tomas Soustal added singles in the teams’ 27th win of the season. The Rockets have 24 games left in the regular season and will play those games over the next 51 days.

Digg’n Deeper: Rodney Southam leads the Rockets with 6 points against the Blazers in the seasonal series (0+6=6.) Kole Lind has 5 points (2+3=5) while Nick Merkley has 4 points (2+2=4). Collin Shirley leads the Blazers with 9 points in the 7 games. Michael Herringer is 2-3-0-0 in five starts against the Blazers with a goals against average of 3.42. Dylan Ferguson has played in 6 of the 7 games for the Blazers. Both power plays have been respectable in the seven games, with the Rockets scoring 9 goals on 38 chances while the Blazers have 10 goals on 40 opportunities. Only two of the 7 games have been decided by a single goal and in three of the games the Rockets have scored only one goal.     

24 More: The Kelowna Rockets have 24 games left in the regular season. Of those 24, 14 of them (58.3%) of them are against BC Division rivals. The Rockets have five more games against Vancouver, four more vs. Prince George and three more against Kamloops. The Rockets play the Victoria Royals two more times. The team has two more each against US Division Everett, Seattle and Spokane and singles against Portland and Tri City. Edmonton and Calgary are the only Central Division teams they face down the stretch.

Dare to Compare: The Rockets had a record of 33-11-3-0 (27-17-4-0 this season) after 48 games last season. The team was 18-2-2-0 (12-7-2-0 this season) on home ice. A season ago the team scored 174 (164 goals scored this season) goals and allowed 132 (146 goals against last season) against. Michael Herringer had played in just 23 games at the 47 game mark last season. Tyson Baillie was the leading scorer with 70 points.

That’s a Fact Jack: NHL Central Scouting has released its mid-term rankings. Cal Foote is dated 12th among North American skaters while Kole Lind is ranked 21st…Jack Cowell has 2+4=6 in his last five games. It took him 26 games to score his first-two goals of his WHL career……The Rockets have surrendered 5 or more goals 9 times this season. The teams’ record, not surprisingly, is 0-8-1-0 …Calvin Thurkauf has points in 10 of his last 13 games ……Dillon Dube has been held off the score-sheet just 5 times this season….9 of the teams last 13 games have been decided by a goal ………Reid Gardiner and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote…The Rockets are 16-7-4-0 in their last 27 games and have points in 18 of their last 24 (14-5-4-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game.

Broadcasters Bits: Kole Lind hit the 100 point mark for his career Saturday night with a four point effort. Lind joins Tomas Soustal and Dillon Dube, who both hit the milestone earlier this season.  Who’s next? Carsen Twarynski has 91 career points…Calvin Thurkauf is three games shy of 100 for his career…Michael Herringer is 4 more starts shy of 100 for his career…GM Bruce Hamilton has
traded/released six players from the teams opening day roster…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …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 9-10-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 29 of the last 38 games…The Rockets are 8-1-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season.


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Sunday, January 22, 2017

More emotion=solid home ice win

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • A night after laying an egg against the Vancouver Giants, the Kelowna Rockets came to compete on home ice Saturday night in a 4-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks. Looking disinterested in a 5-4 loss against the Giants, the Rockets played with more passion 24 hours later, as a group, in the teams 27th win of the season. Kole Lind scored twice and added two assists in the win, hitting the 100 point mark in his WHL career. Tomas Soustal and Braydyn Chizen also scored for a Rockets team that moved two points up on Victoria for third place in the BC Division. The Rockets now get set for a second place showdown with the Kamloops Blazers this Friday night.  
  • Without a goal in 10 games, Kole Lind wasn't due. He was overdue. The first goal he scored was the type one needs to get 'bump the slump'.  A solid forecheck at the side of the net had the puck go off Lind and somehow found its way behind Portland goalender Cole Kehler. It was ugly, greasy and lucky, yet it likely took the weight of the world off his shoulders.
  • James Hilsendager initiated a solid hit early in the game which was a good indication that the team was playing with passion. I often find the d-core hesitant in standing up on the opposition at the blue-line, but they did a much better job of initiating contact when a Winterhawks player approached the attacking zone.  
  • Michael Herringer made two solid stops on breakaway chances. Those saves at key times in the game were difference makers. That is the type of goaltending the team needs. Key saves when the game is tight, will more times than not, make a difference between a win and a loss.
  • The Rockets again played this game with Reid Gardiner, Dillon Dube and Nolan Foote,  Two of the three should be back in the line-up next weekend against visiting Kamloops and Portland.
  • Rookie Jack Cowell is turning into a good player. The soft spoken forward has points in 4 of his last 5 games and is gaining confidence by the minute, Cowell collected one assist but likely could have had a goal when he was set up wonderfully in the slot but was unable to pull the trigger as it appeared his stick failed him as he attempted to deliver the puck towards the net.
  • Fourth liner Leif Mattson also had a tremendous chance to score in the second period but appeared to hit the outside of the net. I think the fourth line has done some really good things with limited ice time. You have to remember, Mattson is being used sparingly, playing just 4:17 last night. Despite the lack of ice, he is trying to contribute anyway he can.   
  • The Rockets are now 9-1-1-0 against US based teams this season. The only loss was Monday in a 5-4 setback in Everett.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Worst loss of season


  • There are disappointing losses and disappointing efforts. The Kelowna Rockets 5-4 road loss Friday in Vancouver would fall under the 'disappointing effort' category. In my opinion, it was the worst loss of the season. Why? The Giants were massive sellers at the WHL trade deadline and essentially gutted their team by moving no less than four high end players. What is left is a very young, inexperienced group who hobbled into Friday's match-up riding a season high 6 game losing streak. The Rockets made moves at the WHL trade deadline to bolster their roster for what they hope will be a long playoff run. If they play like they did Friday, a first round exit is a guarantee. Friday night's game should have been a cakewalk, and unfortunately for the Rockets, they appeared to have that mentality before puck drop. The Giants didn't even have their top scorer, Tyler Benson, in the line up and the home team still won. The loss should have never happened on so many levels, but it brought one of the best teams in the Western Conference to its knees in what can only be described as the most disappointing effort/.result of the season.
  • I had a sense this game could go sideways considering how luckluster the team looked in a 3-2 overtime loss against Moose Jaw Wednesday night. Could the Rockets come out with the same nonchalant approach in a season where every point is so valuable in the BC Division? Yep. The Giants scored two goals and appeared to want the game more despite being 10 points out of a playoff spot. The Rockets, at one point, trailed the game 4-1 before rallying back to tie the score at 4. But the 'Hockey Gods' weren't happy. Taking shortcuts wasn't going to win them over on this night, Ty Ronning scored the winner with under 4 minutes left in regulation time and the Giants celebrated the one goal win. 
  • To put this game into perspective, the Giants iced a young team which included only one NHL drafted player. Ty Ronning is a 7th round pick of the New York Rangers. Ronning scored two goals in the win. The Rockets have two-1st round NHL draft picks. One didn't find the score-sheet at all while the other was a -3 in the game. How can that happen? 
  • The Rockets played this game without Dillon Dube (sick), Nolan Foote (injured) and Reid Gardiner (upper body). Those are three key players out of the lineup. That said, are you telling me the team they iced Friday night still didn't have enough fire power to beat the 4th worst team statistically in the WHL? Not a chance.
  • Shoot the puck!!! Why is that such a problem? While firing 36 shots on net in the 5-4 loss, the Rockets, as a group, pass up chances to shoot. Nick Merkley is the greatest offender of passing the puck rather than shooting it. Carsen Twarynski, for the second time in three games, led the team with 6 shots on net while Eric Gardner had 5.      
  • Assistant Coach Travis Crickard said it best on our AM 1150 post game show. "My goodness, just shoot the puck already. It is ridiculous how many shots we turned down tonight. Our so called 'super stars' refuse to shoot the puck. What are we trying to do out there? It is almost unbearable to watch sometimes. It is like we get over the blue-line and its a 10 pass rule where we have to make 10 passes before we shoot it", a frustrated Crickard added. 
  •  It isn't a good night when former Kelowna Rockets forward Jordan Borstmayer has the best hit of the game, when the now Vancouver Giant, sent ex-teammate Kyle Topping to the ice with a solid first period hit.
  • Kole Lind has now gone 10 games without a goal. His best chance came in the first period when he hit the crossbar. Giants goaltender Ryan Kubic did make nice saves against Eric Gardiner and Carsen Twarynski to give his team a chance. 
  • The Rockets sit in a two way tie for third place in the BC Division with the Victoria Royals and are 3 points back of the Kamloops Blazers for second place. 
  • The Portland Winterhawks pay a visit tonight. I am more interested to see how the Rockets come out after laying an egg last night on the Lower Mainland. 
  • We are on the air on AM 1150 at 6 pm tonight with another edition of 'The Kelowna Rockets This Week', My special guests include the billet mom of Nick Merkley and the Rockets 1996-97 rookie of the year, 39 year-old Scott King.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Take the point and run

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Calvin Thurkauf was the best player on the ice in the third period. The 19 year-old was dominant at the face-off circle, drew two penalties with his speed and power, scored a goal on a terrific wrist shot to tie the score and blocked two shots late in the period to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately for the Kelowna Rockets, that effort was one of the few bright spots in a lackluster 3-2 overtime loss last night to the Moose Jaw Warriors. Honestly, I would walk away from that game with a smile on my face if I was the home team. Looking flat after three emotionally filled games on the road, the power play couldn't score a goal in seven opportunities, which included two 5 on 3's. On this night the power play could have saved them. It simply let them down. Brayden Burke scored the game winner with an innocent looking wrister from just inside the blue-line that beat Michael Herringer for the game winner. The overtime point moves the Rockets within a single point of the Blazers in the battle for second place in the BC Division.
  • It was nice to see Geordie Ballhorn back in the lineup. After missing 21 games, Ballhorn showed a little 'rink rust' but almost scored the opening goal when his wrister handcuffed Warriors goaltender Brody Willms. Willms, I thought,  played extremely well for the visitors with some timely saves including a beauty in the third period. Rockets alumni Jordon Cooke was always good at making the timely saves, the stops you look back at and say to yourself, "Had he not kept that puck out, the complexion of the game would have changed". Willms did that for the Warriors and deserved a star in the building.  
  • Nick Merkley opened the scoring for the Rockets with a wrap around goal in the second period to make it 2-1. Merkley appeared to make the wrong decision when he skated with speed inside the Warriors zone and had beaten a Warriors d-man to the outside for a glorious scoring chance. Instead of cutting towards the net, which appeared to be the obvious decision, Merkley surprised everyone in the building by skating with the puck behind the net and wrapping the puck around the goal, beating Willms to the far post. It was Merkley's 11th goal of the season. It was Merkley's second goal in 11 games.  
  • I thought Brett Howden was the Warriors best skater. I love his power move in overtime where he attempted to beat a defender one-on-one. Howden's power play goal with a quick wrister from the left face-off circle, when he shoots left handed, was impressive. It is far easier to one time the puck from the right face-off dot when left handed, but the Tampa Bay Lightning first round pick was able to fire it home despite it being in an awkward position for him to rip it home.
  • The Rockets have struggled against what is considered a poor East Division this season. The team has lost home games to Saskatoon, Swift Current and now earned only a single point against the Warriors. The team has beaten visiting Prince Albert but also had to use overtime in a home ice win against Regina.  
  • The Rockets played the game without forward Reid Gardiner. Gardiner was hurt after colliding with teammate Calvin Thurkauf Monday in Everett. I spoke to Gardiner, who told me he is feeling good and won't be out long term. 
  • Despite limited duty, I thought the best line early in the game was the fourth line that included Jack Cowell, Kyle Topping and Leif Mattson. That trio had some 'pop' in their game. Topping returning to the line-up after missing 6 games with an injury. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rockets vs. Warriors preview

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets host the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight in the lone meeting of the season between the two teams. Last season, in Moose Jaw, Jackson Whistle earned the shutout in a 1-0 win. The game, December 16th, saw the lone goal come off the stick of Dillon Dube at the 17:43 mark of the second period. The Warriors last made an appearance at Prospera Place February 14th, 2015 in a 6-0 loss. Jake Morrissey earned the shutout with a 28 save performance. The last time a Warriors player scored on a Rockets goalie was in the third period of a game in Moose Jaw December 11, 2013. Scott Cooke scored a third period goal on Jordon Cooke. No, I did not make that up. The shutout streak for the Rockets against the Warriors is 131:34 seconds. The Rockets are riding a four game winning streak against the Warriors. The last loss came December 10, 2011 in a 4-1 setback in Moose Jaw. Shane McColgan scored the lone goal while Rockets assistant coach Adam Brown was tagged with the loss.  

Rewards on Roady: The Rockets completed a three game road trip Monday afternoon with a 5-4 loss in Everett. Despite the setback, the team earned four out of possible 6 points and out-scored the opponent 17-10. The Rockets beat the Victoria Royals by scores of 4-3 and 9-2. The team has played a BC Division high 26 road games and head back on the road to face the Vancouver Giants in Langley on Friday night.

That’s a Fact Jack: Defenceman Gordie Ballhorn returns to the line-up tonight after missing 21 games after being injured November 22nd against Victoria…Jack Cowell has 2+2=4 in his last two games. It took him 26 games to score his first-two goals of his WHL career…The Rockets are playing the second game of four games in 6 nights. The Rockets visit the Vancouver Giants Friday before welcoming Portland Saturday night…Cal Foote’s penalty Monday afternoon in Everett was his first minor penalty in 11 games…The Rockets have surrendered 5 or more goals 8 times this season. The teams’ record, not surprisingly, is 0-7-1-0…4 of the Rockets next 6 games are against teams from outside the BC Division…Four of the next five games will be played on home ice…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 7 of his last 10 games…Tomas Soustal hit the 100 point mark for his career with two assists Monday in Everett……Dillon Dube has been held off the score-sheet just 4 times this season….7 of the teams last 10 games have been decided by a goal …Carsen Twarynski, a third round NHL pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, is making his Kelowna Rockets debut tonight against the Warriors…Reid Gardiner and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote…The Rockets are 15-6-3-0 in their last 24 games and have points in 16 of their last 21 (13-5-3-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game.

Broadcasters Bits: The Rockets are the only team in the WHL with two players on their current roster that are first round NHL draft picks. Nick Merkley was chosen in the 1srt round by the Arizona Coyotes while Lucas Johansen was selected in the opening round by the Washington Capitals…GM Bruce Hamilton has
traded/released six players from the teams opening day roster…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …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 9-9-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 28 of the last 36 games…The Rockets are 8-1-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 January 2nd. Reid Gardiner turns 21 tomorrow (January 19th).  Assistant Coach Kris Mallette turns significantly older on that same day. Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also has a birthday in January…The Kelowna Rockets made four deals in advance of the WHL trade deadline. The Rockets acquired 19 year-old forward Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round bantam pick for 18 year-old Jake Kryski. The team shipped 18 year-old Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round bantam pick.  The team acquired Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders for a 1st round pick, a 5th round pick and a conditional 5th round selection. To make room for Gardiner, Riley Stadel was sent to Edmonton for a 5th round selection.   



Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The one that got away

Chris Mast Photo
  • It was a game that was gettable. Does that make sense? As the Kelowna Rockets bus left Xfinity Arena last night after a 5-4 road loss to the Everett Silvertips, the visitors could take solace in the fact that they were good enough to compete against the elite. Yes, the Silvertips, if you haven't noticed, have lost only 5 times in regulation and are considered one of the teams out there to challenge for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. The Rockets showed Monday afternoon that they have more than enough fire power to beat the defensive minded Tips, who average only 1.78 goals per game against on home ice. The Rockets scored twice as many goals than the seasonal average, but the problem was they surrendered five goals against. The reason behind the loss? Two things. Penalties would be one and less than average goaltending would be the other. Michael Herringer, who I am a big supporter, did not have a good night in net. It pains me to state it here, but I can't hide the fact he wasn't very good. The 20 year-old allowed 4 goals on 11 shots with three of them that Herringer would normally stop in his sleep. Two, I swear, were on the ice. As a 20 year-old on a very good team, he just need to be solid, not spectacular. It is a role he is going to have to accept where he won't be forced into making as many five alarm saves.
  • In the loss to the Tips, the Rockets were on there game. While Herringer struggled, his teammates battled back three times to tie the score at 3. The Rockets out-shot the Tips 12-8 in the opening 20 minutes and were not making glaring defensive mistakes. The visitors were in this game and were attempting to be only the fourth team to beat Everett in regulation time on home ice this season. When Tips overager Dominic Zwerger scored a power play goal from the left face-off circle to make the score 4-3, the coaching staff finally pulled Herringer in favour of Brodan Salmond. Honestly, I was surprised the hook didn't come earlier, but to the credit of the coaching staff, despite early struggles, they allowed Herringer the ability to find his game. Unfortunately that didn't happen.
  • If I am going to be honest about goaltending, let me point out that Tips goaltender Carter Hart was no shining light out there either. I thought the 18 year-old was also average at best and appeared to be fighting the puck early when defenceman Lucas Johansen's shot from the blue-line beat him to tie the score at 1. That's what makes this loss tough to handle. Hart did not steal it away from the Rockets with a goaltending display of epic proportions. The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick looked human which made a win at Xfinity Arena even more attainable.   
  • The Silvertips scored three power play goals in the win. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering the teams power play unit is top 5 in the WHL. You just need to be smart as a team and stay out of the penalty box. Control your emotions and have control of your stick. At the end of the day, The Tips had 7 power play chances. That number needs to be reduced to three - maximum. The good teams are able to fight through adversity, whether it is a none-call or surrendering a bad goal. The championship teams don't get rattled. Let's see if in the final 26 games of the regular season if the Rockets can improve in that area. Do they have the horses to compete against the best? Without question, but smart hockey must be the order of the day.
  • The Rockets not only lost the game, but 20 year-old forward Reid Gardiner. Gardiner collided at a high rate of speed with teammate Calvin Thurkauf between the benches in the second period and went down hard, likely hitting his head on the ice. Gardiner, after laying on the ice for about a minute, got up but appeared to be weak in his knees as Athletic Therapist Scott Hoyer helped him to the bench. Up to that point, Gardiner was having a solid game with 2 assists and was a difference maker every time he was out on the ice. 
  • Dillon Dube hit two goal posts and had a breakaway in the third period that Hart appeared to get his glove hand on, steering the puck wide. While Dube didn't have the glorious scoring chances he did against Victoria in back-to-back games, the 18 year-old still had no less than three opportunities to find the back of the net. 
  • The game ended with the Rockets getting one real good look in the dying seconds when Nick Merkely set up Tomas Soustal for a quick shot at the left face-off circle that Carter Hart came across to kick out his right bad. When the buzzer sounded, Rockets head coach Jason Smith and Tips assistant coach Mitch Love were seen jawing at one another in a heated discussion. I love the passion of both coaches, who I know both personally as good men, who are competitors that will defend their teams honour. I look forward to the next match-up between these two teams March 3rd.
  • A quick mention about a conversation I had with Tips GM Gary Davidson before the game. I find Gary extremely approachable and his insight and honesty made for great radio. I like the fact that he shared with me the Tips interest in Carsen Twarynski and his overall view of the trades that were made by other teams in the Western Conference. Victoria Royals GM Camerson Hope was also terrific when I interviewed him prior to Friday night's game against the Royals.   

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rockets game notes vs.Tips

Shoot the Breeze Photorgraphy
Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets close out a three game road trip this afternoon against the Everett Silvertips. The Rockets are 1-0-0-0 in the seasonal series after a 4-3 overtime victory back on October 19th. Lucas Johansen scored the game winning goal at the 1:04 mark of the extra session. Rodney Southam, Devante Stephens and Nolan Foote also scored in the win. Michael Herringer made 19 saves with the team going 2 for 4 with the man advantage. The Rockets out-shot the Tips 27-22. Following this afternoon game, the seasonal series concludes March 3rd (In Everett) and March 15th (In Kelowna). Last season, the Rockets were 1-1-0-0 in Everett with a 3-1 loss and a 6-5 overtime win. In the OTW, Justin Kirkland scored the game winner at the 1:24 mark. In the last 13 meetings between these two teams, the Rockets are 8-2-3-0. The Rockets are coming off a 9-2 win Saturday night over the Victoria Royals. Dillon Dube had 3+1=4 in the win. Overall, the Rockets have won 7 of its last 11 games (7-3-1-0) and have points in 9 of its last 12 games (7-3-2-0). The Rockets host Moose Jaw Wednesday night and then travel to Vancouver Friday night.

That’s a Fact Jack: The Rockets are playing their 26th road game this afternoon in Everett. Only Tri City (28) has played more road games than the Rockets/Saskatoon Blades…Dillon Dube’s three goal game Saturday night marked the third time a Rockets player has scored a hat trick this season. Kyle Topping and Calvin Thurkauf also have three goal games under their belt…5 of the Rockets next 7 games are against teams from outside the BC Division…Following this game in Everett, four of the next five games will be played on home ice…Calvin Thurkauf has points in 7 of his last 9 games…Thurkauf has the exact same number of goals as he did in his rookie season (18)…Tomas Soustal is two points shy of 100 for his career…Cal Foote is two points shy of the 36 he put up last season…Dillon Dube has been held off the score-sheet just three times this season….6 of the teams last 9 games have been decided by a goal …Carsen Twarynski, a third round NHL pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, made his Kelowna Rockets debut Wednesday night in Victoria…Reid Gardiner and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote…The Rockets are 15-5-3-0 in their last 23 games and have points in 16 of their last 20 (13-4-3-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game.

Trade Winds Blow: The Kelowna Rockets made four deals in advance of the WHL trade deadline. The Rockets acquired 19 year-old forward Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round bantam pick for 18 year-old Jake Kryski. The team shipped 18 year-old Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round bantam pick.  The team acquired Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders for a 1st round pick, a 5th round pick and a conditional 5th round selection. To make room for Gardiner, Riley Stadel was sent to Edmonton for a 5th round selection.   

Broadcasters Bits: These two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since the 2010 season, when in the opening round, the Rockets won the series in 7 games. In the game seven win, March 29, 2010, Mark Guggenberger made 40 saves and was named the first star in a 2-1 win. George Wudrick had 7 goals in that 7 game series…The Rockets are the only team in the WHL with two players on their current roster that are first round NHL draft picks. Nick Merkley was chosen in the 1srt round by the Arizona Coyotes while Lucas Johansen was selected in the opening round by the Washington Capitals…GM Bruce Hamilton has traded/released six players from the teams opening day roster…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …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 9-9-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 27 of the last 35 games…The Rockets are 8-0-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 January 2nd. Reid Gardiner turns 21 on January 19th along with assistant coach Kris Mallette while Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also has a birthday in January…The Rockets scored 9 goals in a 9-2 win in Victoria Saturday night. The team managed to score 9 goals on the road last season in Portland in a 9-3 win.


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A 'Royal' beatdown


Devante Stephens battles with Matthew Phillips - Jon Howe photo 
  • Beating the Victoria Royals on home ice is doable. Beating them in consecutive meetings is almost impossible. The key word here - almost. The Kelowna Rockets destroyed their BC Division brethren 9-2 Friday night in front of a crowd of over 7 thousand patrons. The win came on the heels of a 4-3 victory Wednesday night at Save on Food's Memorial Centre. Many of the Royals faithful in attendance last night have witnessed the Rockets upset the apple cart before, but not to this degree. Dillon Dube, who is as dominant as we've ever seen him, scored three times in the lopsided win and was named the first start for a second consecutive game. Dube, since returning from the World Junior's, has 5+3=8 in four games and appears to be hitting his stride as one of the best 18 year-old's in the WHL. The 'Golden Jet', as I like to call him considering he was born in Golden BC, has played just 14 regular season games but has 19 points. At this pace and healthy enough to play in every game, Dube would be north of 60 points this season which would have him leading the team in scoring.
  • Playing in only his second game, 19 year-old Carsen Twarynski earned his first point with his new team. It has been suggested that Twarynski is creating more room for Dube and the scoring chances that the Calgary Flames draft pick is creating can be attributed, in part, to Twarynski's presence on the ice. I though the Rockets latest acquisition from the Calgary Hitmen was significantly more noticeable than in Wednesday's debut. Twarynski and Dube led the team with 5 shots on goal apiece.  
  • I didn't have any doubts about the Royals goaltending coming into this series of games on the Island, but honestly, I am not so sure what to think of Griffin Outhouse. The 18 year-old, who I regarded as one of the top three goalies in the Western Conference heading into the road trip, struggled mightily Wednesday and looked worse two days later. From an outside observer, the only thing I can think of is fatigue. While top three in wins and top five in save percentage, Outhouse has played a whopping 40 games this season. That is a ton of work.That number can only be matched by Lethbridge Hurricanes goaltender Stuart Skinner.
  • It was Friday the 13th and that may have played a factor in last night's lopsided score. When defensive defenceman James Hilsendager scored his second goal of the season less than three minutes into the game, it was a sign that it may be a long night for Outhouse and the Royals d-core. After surrendering four goals, Royals head coach Dave Lowry pulled Outhouse in favour of affiliated goalie Dean McNabb. The 16 year-old brother of NHL'er Brayden McNabb didn't fare well, surrendering two goals on four shots before Lowry re-inserted Outhouse in an attempt to stop the bleeding. 
  • At one point in the game, the Rockets had more goals (8) than the Royals had shots (6). Playing almost exclusively in the offensive zone, Michael Herringer had another easy evening where he faced under 22 shots for the 8th time in his last 12 starts. 
  • The rematch after the Rockets earned a 4-3 win Wednesday was a chippy affair. When Lucas Johansen is fighting Vladimir Bobylev, you know frustration is boiling over. Johansen has gone to the penalty box just 8 times this season and has never gotten into a fight at the WHL level. I loved the way captain Rodney Southam skated past the penalty box, with Johansen sitting inside, tapping his stick on the glass as a gesture to the 19 year-old that it was a job well done.
  • While Devante Stephens had the puck taken away from him by Jack Walker for a first period breakaway goal, the 19 year-old took away a goal when he blocked a shot that Walker took towards, what appeared to be, a wide open net. With a rare mad scramble around the net and Herringer down and out of position, Stephens calmly skated into a shooting lane and made the save. 
  • The Rockets coaches believed the two games in Victoria would be won or lost on specialty teams. If that indeed was the case, the Rockets were 3/4 on the power play in the two games and 12 for 14 on the penalty kill. Those numbers are awfully impressive. 
  • After further review, rookie Jack Cowell will be credited with a goal and two assists in last night's win. It is Cowell's first-three point game of his career as he battles with rookies Leif Mattson, Kyle Topping and Nolan Foote for playing time. 
  • The back-to-back wins in Victoria was last accomplished October 25/26, 2013.
  • The Rockets had 13 players hit the score-sheet. Among those that didn't, surprisingly, were leading scorer Kole Lind and Nick Merkley.   
  • Up next, a game in Everett against the stingy Silvertips Monday afternoon. That game will be a clear indicator if the Rockets 'new team' has the ability to play against the elite in the Western Conference.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rockets rally on road vs. Royals

Carsen Twarynski - Jonathon Howe photo
  • The Kelowna Rockets penalty killing unit had an extremely good night. The Victoria Royals power play? Not so much! Despite allowing the Royals eight power play chances, including a double minor to defenceman James Hilsendager less than a minute into the game, the Rockets killed off seven of them in a 4-3 road win. Oddly enough, the Rockets third period rally including a power play goal from Cal Foote, who wired a shot past the blocker side of Royals goaltender Griffin Outhouse. Foote's goal tied the score at three and set the table for Calvin Thurkauf's eventual game winner :38 seconds later. The win, the Rockets 25th of the season, moved them into a two way tie for second place in the BC Division with the idle Kamloops Blazers. The two teams (Rockets/Royals) meet again tomorrow night at Save On Foods Memorial Centre, in a seasonal series that has seen the road team win 3 of the 5 games.
  • Dillon Dube was the best player on the ice. Every time he was out there he was noticeable. The 18 year-old's ability to chase down loose pucks was terrific and the goal he scored was what hockey people like to call, 'a goal scorers goal'. Dube worked to the slot with the puck, out waited Royals defenceman Marsel Ibragimov and then Griffen Outhouse before firing the puck high over the sprawled goaltender.  Dube has come back from the World Junior Hockey Championships loaded with confidence and it shows through his dominant play.
  • One of the more interesting match ups last night was watching Devante Stephens skate against Royals forward Jack Walker. In a battle between two of the best skaters in the Western Conference, 'Devo' didn't lose a step/stride against the quick footed Walker, who can skate as fast with the puck as without it. Again, I am a big fan of Stephens and how he has taken massive strides from the struggles of a season ago. The transformation is a good example of not giving up on a player if he indeed has a bad season.
  • Kole Lind had three assists in what I thought was a quiet game for the teams leading scorer. Having gone a season high 6 games without a goal, the good news is he isn't being relied upon to score like he was in the first three months of the season. Over the first half, Lind was doing the majority of the heavy lifting offensively.
  • A tough night for the goaltenders. I thought Royals netminder Griffen Outhouse, who has been exceptional in the seasonal series, had an off night. You could tell he was really fighting the puck and was overplaying shots. Even a routine blocker save saw the puck spring high in the air and over his head. With the puck in mid-air, Outhouse looked behind himself and used the blade of his stick to swat the puck from entering the net. It may get consideration for the WHL Plays of the Week, but truthfully, a manageable save turned into a fire sale to keep it out. Always a big backer of the goalies, I will point out that Outhouse's best save came against Rockets 20 year-old Reid Gardiner, who attempted to go high glove on the Williams Lake, BC resident from in close, but Outhouse came up large with the second period stop. 
  • Michael Herringer had an off night too. The opening goal he surrendered saw a backhand pass from behind his own net hit teammate Jack Cowell and ricochet in. That is just bad luck and is awfully tough to defend. The Royals power play goal by Ryan Peckford in the second period was stoppable though. Peckford, from in tight, fired the puck into Herringer's body and it squeezed past him on the short side. Bad luck again or preventable goal? I think both would apply here. Herringer's best save came on a point blank stop on Regan Nagy in the second period. Like Herringer's counterpart at the other end, it was a night of ups and downs. 
  • In 7 of Michael Herringer's last 11 starts, the team in front of him has allowed 22 shots or fewer on net. The bottom line is Herringer is benefiting from a team that is really committed to blocking shots and are spending very little time in the defensive zone. 
  • All good things must come to an end including the Royals 18-0-0-0 record when leading after 40 minutes. The Rockets rallied from a 2-1 third period deficit to win the game in regulation time. It was the Rockets 4th win in 19 games when trailing after 2 periods.
  • It was an eventful evening for newcomer Carsen Twarynski. The 19 year-old was noticeable in initiating contact every chance he had. Let's face it, like many teams across the WHL, the Rockets are not an overly physical group. When Twarynski starts hitting people and finishing checks, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I thought he had an effective game and played to his strengths. Assistant Coach Kris Mallette mentioned on our AM 1150 post game show how vocal Twarynski was on the bench and how positive he was verbally with his new teammates. Small detail yes, but worth noting all the same.
  • While the Rockets opening goal was somewhat controversial as the back official called it a goal despite video review showing nothing of the sort, the Royals also got away with one. The back official blew the play dead when Rockets d-man Lucas Johansen fired a shot on goal that Griffen Outhouse stopped, but mishandled, as it went off his catching glove and into the net.  
  • The Rockets are now 9-3-3-0 in one goal games this season. Six of the Rockets last eight games have been one goal games.
  • Cal Foote's power play goal was his first goal in 10 games.
  • Calvin Thurkauf's game winning goal was his 18th of the season. That matches his goal total from all of last season.
  • Captain Rodney Southam has quietly put together a four game point streak. (1+3=4). 
  • Dillon Dube has points in 10 of the 13 games he has played in this season.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rockets open roady vs. Royals

Tonight’s Preview: The Kelowna Rockets open a three game road trip tonight in Victoria. This is the 5th meeting of the season between these two teams. The seasonal series is tied at two wins apiece with the Rockets winning 6-4 and 5-1 but the Royals have won the last two games by scores of 6-2 and 2-1. Overall, the Rockets have out-scored their BC Division rivals 14-13. The Rockets are coming off a 3-2 shootout win Saturday night over the Kamloops Blazers. Reid Gardiner and Nick Merkley scored in regulation time while Kole Lind scored the game winner in the shootout as the team snapped a four game winless streak. Brodan Salmond earned the win in goal and was 5 for 6 in the shootout. In the big picture the Rockets have won 5 of its last 9 games (5-3-1-0) and have points in 7 of its last 10 games (5-3-2-0). These two teams meet again Friday before the Rockets travel to Everett to face the Silvertips in a Monday (Martin Luther King Day) afternoon affair on January 16th.  

That’s a Fact Jack: Carsen Twarynski is a third round NHL pick of the Philadelphia Flyers and had a career season with 20+25+45 in 2015-2016. Twarynski had a three goal game last season against the Red Deer Rebels…Did you know that Rockets assistant coach Kris Mallette was a 3rd round pick also of the Flyers back in 1997?...Reid Gardiner won a Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League title with ex-Kelowna Rockets forward Rourke Chartier when they both played with the Saskatoon Contacts in 2011-2012…Gardiner was acquired on the exact same day, two years removed, from the Rockets obtaining Leon Draisaitl’s rights from the PA Raiders…Reid and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote...Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf both missed 8 games with the Kelowna Rockets while attending the World Junior’s. The Rockets were 4-2-2-0 without two of their top forwards…Dillon Dube missed 10 games after playing for Team Canada at the WJHC…The Rockets are 13-5-3-0 in their last 21 games and have points in 14 of their last 18 (11-4-3-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game. Foote is one of only two players on the Rockets roster to play in every game this season. The other is Rodney Southam. Lind leads the team in scoring. The Top Prospects game will be played in Quebec City.

Gardiner X2: The Kelowna Rockets pulled off a significant deal last Friday by acquiring 20 year-old forward Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders. Gardiner is the older brother of rookie forward Erik Gardiner. Reid Gardiner was playing this season in the American Hockey League for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Last season, Gardiner scored 43 goals and collected 92 assists and was named a WHL All-Star. To make room for Gardiner, the team sent 20 year-old Riley Stadel to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a 5th round bantam pick.

Trade Winds Blow: The Kelowna Rockets made two other deals in advance of the WHL trade deadline on Tuesday. The Rockets acquired 19 year-old forward Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round bantam pick for 18 year-old Jake Kryski. The team shipped 18 year-old Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round bantam pick.  

Broadcasters Bits: Kole Lind has 3+4=7 vs Victoria this season. Rodney Southam (4+0) and Tomas Soustal (1+3=4) have also contributed on the scoresheet against their BC Division cousins…Michael Herringer has played in all four games against the Royals, posting a record of 2 and 2 with a goals against average of 3.27…GM Bruce Hamilton has traded/released six players from the teams opening day roster..
Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …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 7-9-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 25 of the last 33 games…The Rockets are 8-0-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 on Monday. Reid Gardiner turns 21 on January 19th along with assistant coach Kris Mallette while Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also has a birthday in January.


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Monday, January 9, 2017

Rockets add muscle

Shoot the Breeze Photography
The Kelowna Rockets have acquired 19-year-old forward Carsen Twarynski and a conditional third round pick from the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for 18-year-old forward Jake Kryski.

The trade came just two days after the Rockets acquired high profile sniper Reid Gardiner in a trade with the Prince Albert Raiders.

“We felt we needed to add a big physical forward and we’re getting that in Carsen. A power forward is something we were lacking,” said Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton. “Jake Kryski is the player that Calgary wanted in return so that’s the price we had to pay.”

Kryski was acquired from Kamloops prior to the start of this season. In his short stint with the Rockets he tallied 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points along with 43 PIMS in 37 games.

The 6-foot-2 200 lb. power forward Twarynski has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points along with 42 PIMS in 36 games with the Hitmen this season. He played a total of 160 games for the Hitmen amassing 35 goals and 51 assists for 86 career WHL points.

Twarynski was taken 82nd overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Rockets will be awarded a third round draft pick if Twarynski does not return to the Rockets from NHL/AHL camps next season as a 20-year-old overage player.

Twarynski is expected to be in a Rockets uniform on Wednesday when they visit the Victoria Royals.


Fans will be able to see Twarynski in action at Prospera Place on January 18th when the Rockets host the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Gardiner's debut doesn't disappoint


Reid Gardiner celebrates - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Could you have written a better script for Reid Gardiner's debut Saturday with the Kelowna Rockets? Perhaps had he scored the game winner in the shootout, but heck, that was a pretty sweet effort in his first game back in the WHL after starting the season in the American Hockey League. Gardiner, acquired Friday from the Prince Albert Raiders, scored the tying goal while shorthanded as his new team snap a four game losing streak. Gardner's performance in a 3-2 shootout win over the Kamloops Blazers could have been more spectacular had Calvin Thurkauf scored on a third period breakaway. Gardiner delivered a perfect backhand pass to a streaking Thurkauf in the high slot but Blazers netminder Dylan Ferguson made the stop. In the end, Gardiner did not disappoint and was named the first star and showed excellent chemistry with linemates Nick Merkley and Calvin Thurkauf.  
  • Reid Gardiner isn't going to parachute down and cure all the offensive woes facing the Kelowna Rockets. That said, the 20 year-old will clearly make an impact in an effort to catch the Prince George Cougars for first place in the BC Division. The ultimate goal for the Rockets is to get their house in order in an effort to play at the ultimate level when the playoff start in late March. But...but...let's enjoy the remaining 30 games left in the regular season and what the 20 year-old sharp shooter can bring to the table and how he energizes and ultimately makes every teammate around him better. 
  • You could see it in warm-up that Gardiner was jacked up to play. His skating pace was quick, the puck came off his stick with velocity and he was ready and willing to be an active participant. I can't see how that can't rub off on his teammates. If Gardiner can be a quiet leader and play with purpose, whether it be a goal or even the ability to make body contact to win a board battle for a loose puck, others will follow his lead. Did Gardiner not have an immediate impact of Nick Merkley? It looked more and more like the 'old Nick Merkley' Saturday night, which included unloading a hard hit on Blazers d-man Luke Zazula in the third period. When Merkey is at his best, he is tenacious in hunting down pucks. He has no quit in his game. If he can get back to that one mainstay in his game that made him so effective as a 16 and 17 year-old, the Arizona Coyotes first rounder is going to make a major impact on the score-sheet.
  • The Rockets played with emotion in last night's game, but it was calculated emotion. Captain Rodney Southam got into Blazers forward Jermaine Loewen's grill on the opening face-off and several teammates attempted to initiate body contact on the well built Loewen. I thought James Hilsendager set the tone in the first period by aggressively running into Loewen at the blue line. In Friday's 3-1 Blazers win, did any Rockets player lay even a hand on Loewen? My guess is no.
  • Devante Stephens may be the goat on the Blazers first goal, but didn't he play an excellent game? I thought 'Devo' was terrific in his battle level along the boards and his skating stride gets him out of trouble. Stephens rarely hesitates in shooting the puck and makes great decisions when to pinch and when to sit back. The Buffalo Sabres need to sign this guy. A late bloomer who is rough around the edges, the 19 year-old is really making an impact on a blueline that is still without hard nosed Gordie Ballhorn. 
  • Cal Foote makes so many small plays that make a major impact on the game. Foote has the ability to get his stick on pucks destined to hit the Rockets net and his ability to cover up for a teammates miscue is uncanny. The best example was in the third period when Blazers Captain Collin Shirley had what appeared to be a grade 'A' scoring chance on goaltender Brodan Salmond in the slot. Foote came from nowhere to poke the puck away to the corner as Shirley was ready to unload the puck. It was a play that likely wasn't noticed by many, but it is the small details in Foote's game that makes one marvel at how terrific of defender he is. 
  • A shout-out to Brodan Salmond. I thought he was solid and appeared to get better with the game on the line. The 18 year-old made several solid stops and snuffed out 5 of 6 shooters in the shootout. Of the two goals he surrendered in regulation time, both were breakaways including Blazers forward Nick Chyzowski, who was awarded a second period penalty shot. 
  • For my money, the Rockets are still passing up way too many shooting opportunities. Dumb down the game. Shoot from everywhere and crash the net. The team is still attempting to make highlight reel passing plays and it isn't necessary. One shift stood out for me in the third period where a shot came from a Rockets d-man and all three forwards skated towards the net in an effort to chase down a rebound. It was picture perfect. While a rebound was not gobbled up and the Blazers cleared the zone, that needs to be constant.    
  • Funniest part of the game came in the shootout when Tomas Soustal scored. Teammate Nick Merkley, thinking the game was over and the Rockets had won, quickly jumped on the ice and skated towards Soustal and gave him a hug. Merkley then realized, that outside of Soustal, he was the only one on the ice, and with a sheepish grin on his face, skated back to the bench realizing the game wasn't over.
  • The Blazers have a gem in defenceman Luke Zazula. I thought he was terrific. The 16 year-old rookie is excellent with the puck and is a tremendous skater. That is a heck of a 4th round pick.
  • Lane Bauer made his debut with the Blazers this weekend and didn't register a point in either of the two games. But don't be fooled with the lack of production. I thought Bauer was noticeable in both games and his 25 goals this season are no fluke. Bauer is dangerous with the puck and makes the Blazers even that much more dynamic in the offensive zone.
  • You can't tell me the Kamloops Blazers are not one of the best teams in the Western Hockey League. Owning the 7th best record in the WHL, the Blazers are no easy out and are a handful for the evenly matched Rockets. Face it, and I'm biased, but the BC Division is the jewel of the WHL this season. Just ask an Eastern Conference opponent. The reason why BC Division teams don't have eye pooping records is because they are eating one another. The head-to-head games against one another is where the majority of the losses are coming from. Of the Rockets 15 losses this season, 8 have come courtesy of a BC Division opponent. I am not complaining. The BC Division hasn't been this heavy loaded....possibly ever...and the inter-division games are going to be much watch hockey. Saturday night's game between the Rockets and Blazers was another good example.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rockets game notes vs. Blazers

Reid Gardiner
Welcome back to Prospera Place for tonight’s tilt between two BC Division rivals separated by three points for second place. This is the 7th meeting of the season, with the Rockets sporting a record of 2-4-0-0 in the first six games. These two teams met last night at the Sandman Centre with the Blazers earning a 3-1 win. Dillon Dube scored the lone goal in the setback. The Rockets were 1 for 2 on the power play while going 6 for 6 on the penalty kill. The Blazers out-shot the Rockets 36-31 in the game.
Overall, the Blazers have out-scored the Rockets 25-13 in the first six games. The Blazers have opened the scoring in 5 of the 6 games. In the last 32 regular season meetings, the Rockets are 24-7-1-0 against their BC Division rivals. Overall, the Rockets have won 4 of its last 8 games (4-3-1-0) and have points in 6 of its last 9 games (4-3-2-0). Next Wednesday and Friday the Rockets visit the Victoria Royals before traveling to Everett to face the Silvertips in a Monday (Martin Luther King Day) afternoon affair on January 16th.  

Gardiner X2: The Kelowna Rockets pulled off a significant deal Friday by acquiring 20 year-old forward Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders. Gardiner is the older brother of rookie forward Erik Gardiner. Reid Gardiner was playing this season in the American Hockey League for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Last season, Gardiner scored 43 goals and collected 92 assists and was named a WHL All-Star. To make room for Gardiner, the team sent 20 year-old Riley Stadel to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a 5th round bantam pick.

Trade Winds Blow: The Kelowna Rockets made one other deal in advance of the WHL trade deadline on Tuesday. The team shipped 18 year-old Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants for a 5th round bantam pick.  

That’s a Fact Jack: Reid Gardiner won a Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League title with ex-Kelowna Rockets forward Rourke Chartier when they both played with the Saskatoon Contacts in 2011-2012…Gardiner was acquired on the exact same day, two years removed, from the Rockets obtaining Leon Draisaitl’s rights from the PA Raiders…Reid and Erik Gardiner are the 6th set of Rockets brothers to play with one another. They join Kiel and Gavin McLeod, Lucas and Evan Bloodoff, Josh and Jake Morrissey, Joe and Danny Gatenby and Cal and Nolan Foote...Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf both missed 8 games with the Kelowna Rockets while attending the World Junior’s. The Rockets were 4-2-2-0 without two of their top forwards…Dillon Dube is missed 10 games after playing for Team Canada at the WJHC…The Rockets are 12-5-3-0 in their last 20 games and have points in 13 of their last 17 (10-4-3-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game. Foote is one of only two players on the Rockets roster to play in every game this season. The other is Rodney Southam. Lind leads the team in scoring. The Top Prospects game will be played in Quebec City.

Broadcasters Bits: Jake Kryski is 6 points shy of 100 for his career…James Hilsendager played in career game #150 last night in Kamloops. Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …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 6-9-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonMichael Herringer has started in 25 of the last 32 games…The Rockets are 8-0-2-0 against U.S Division teams this season…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 on Monday. Reid Gardiner turns 21 on January 19th while Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also has a birthday in January.

Who’s Hot? Lucas Johansen has a 7 game point streak (0+9=9)…Nolan Foote has goals in three of his last four games  Jake Kryski has 6+5=11 in the last 11 games and 8+7=15 in his last 14 games…Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last 5 gamesTomas Soustal has points in 12 of his last 16 games. The 19 year-old has goals in 10 of his last 19 games and has 10+15=25 over that period… Kole Lind has points in 24 of his last 30 games (16+24=40)…Lind has goals in 11 of his last 19 games.…Nick Merkley has points in 17 of his last 27 games (9+16=25).


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rockets game notes vs. Chiefs

Shoot the Breeze Photography
Tonight’s Preview: Happy New Year! Welcome to January, a month that will see the Kelowna Rockets play 11 games in 24 nights. The Rockets host the Spokane Chiefs for the first time this season. The Chiefs are the only U.S Division team not to have played a game this season at Prospera Place. These two teams met back on December 2nd, in Spokane, with the Chiefs earning a 2-1 overtime win. These two teams close out the seasonal series with games February 17th (Kelowna) and February 26th (Spokane). The Rockets are 8-2-2-1 in their last 13 games against the Chiefs dating back five seasons. The Rockets have held the lead heading into the third period 18 times this season. How about the Chiefs? Only eight times (8-0-0-0). The Rockets are coming off a 2-1 loss Friday night against the Victoria Royals. Nolan Foote scored the lone goal in the teams 7th loss on home ice this season.  Overall, the Rockets have won 4 of its last 6 games and have points in 5 of its last 7 games (4-2-1-0). The Rockets face the Kamloops Blazers in a home and home series this weekend.   

December’s Top Performers: The Kelowna Rockets played 13 games in December. The top offensive performer during the month was Kole Lind. Lind had 6+12=18 in December. Jake Kryski had 8+7=15 while Cal Foote had 1+12=13. Calvin Thurkauf and Jake Kryski led the team in goals during the month with 8 apiece. Kole Lind and Nolan Foote each had 6 goals apiece.

That’s a Fact Jack: Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf have both missed 7 games with the Kelowna Rockets while attending the World Junior’s. The Rockets are 4-2-1-0 without two of their top forwards…Dillon Dube is missing his 10th straight game tonight as he plays for Team Canada at the WJHCThe Rockets have scored 5 goals in their last three games. Of those 5 goals scored, four have come on the power play with only one even strength goal…The Rockets power play is 4 for 17 (24%) in its last three games... The Rockets are 12-4-2-0 in their last 18 games and have points in 12 of their last 15 (10-3-2-0)….Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind have been named to the roster for the CHL Top Prospects game. Foote is one of only two players on the Rockets roster to play in every game this season. The other is Rodney Southam. Lind leads the team in scoring. The Top Prospects game will be played in Quebec City.

Broadcasters Bits: Calvin Thurkauf captained team Switzerland at the World Junior’s…Rookie Erik Gardiner has 1+5=6 in 7 games with the Rockets since making his debut with the team in Medicine Hat before the Christmas break…Kole Lind had his 13 game point streak snapped December 18th against the Edmonton Oil Kings. It is the longest point streak by a Rockets player this season …Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four games and was named the WHL Player of the Week December 7th to 11th …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 6-8-0-0 against BC based teams this seasonThe Rockets are 23-14-2-0 after 39 games. Last season the team was 27-10-2-0 after 39 games….Michael Herringer has started in 17 of the last 23 games and 23 of the last 30…The Rockets are 8-0-1-0 against U.S Division teams this season…The Rockets are the most penalized team in the WHL and have a league high 25 fighting majors…Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) and Calvin Thurkauf (Switzerland) have returned to the team after competing at the  World Junior Hockey Championships in Montreal/Toronto. Both will play this weekend against the Kamloops Blazers.…Dillon Dube is the 15th player in Kelowna Rockets franchise history to make Canada’s world junior team…January Birthdays: Devante Stephens turned 19 on Monday…Jordan Borstmayer (Jan 9th), Riley Stadel (Jan 16th) and Michael Herringer (Jan 26th) also have birthdays in January….Jake Kryski is 6 points shy of 100 for his career…James Hilsendager is playing in career game #149 tonight vs. Spokane.

Who’s Hot? Lucas Johansen has a 5 game point streak (0+6=6)…Nolan Foote has goals in three straight games …Cal Foote has points in 7 of his last 12 games (1+12=13)….Jake Kryski has 6+5=11 in the last 9 games and 8+7=15 in his last 12 games…Calvin Thurkauf has 8 goals in his last four gamesTomas Soustal has points in 12 of his last 15 games. The 19 year-old has goals in 10 of his last 18 games and has 10+15=25 over that period… Kole Lind has points in 24 of his last 28 games (16+24=40)…Lind has goals in 11 of his last 17 games.…Nick Merkley has points in 17 of his last 25 games (9+16=25).


Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150