Saturday, December 8, 2018

Rockets add separation in 2nd place showdown

Roman Basran - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • They don't ask how. They only ask how many. The Kelowna Rockets picked up their 14th win of the season last night in a 2-0 home ice victory over the visiting Victoria Royals. In likely the dullest game I've ever witnessed between the two BC Division rivals, the Rockets used a third period goal from former Royal Lane Zablocki and then an empty netter from Nolan Foote to hand Victoria its 11th loss in 16 games. More importantly, the Rockets moved four points up on both the Royals and Kamloops Blazers for second place in the BC Division, with both teams holding 6 and 5 games in hand respectively. While Roman Basran made only 16 saves for his second career shutout, the draft eligible goalie had to make two five alarm saves against Dante Hannoun in the first period and against Tyler Lees in the second. 
  • You can't argue with the results. Since a 7-0 shutout loss on November 16th, the team is 6-2-0-1 in their last 9 games. Players. Coaches. Take a bow.  
  • Both goaltenders were named stars in the game.While Basran was the first star, Royals netminder Griffen Outhouse was the second star. Outhouse was solid, but not spectacular in allowing his team a chance to win. I thought both teams struggled to execute. Passing was often off target and decision making was questionable. It almost looked like the final game before the Christmas break as neither team had much jump. Turnovers were common place in the defensive zone and both teams were seen icing the puck with regularity. In a game that featured little in the way of animosity, it came to a close in only 2 hours and 16 minutes.
  • Just typical of how the night went, the game winner came from Lane Zablocki when his centering feed from behind the goal line went off Royals defenceman Mitchell Prowse and behind a startled Griffen Outhouse. It almost appeared that Prowse shot it into his own net. The obvious reaction is for Prowse to move the puck out of harms way when it hit his stick. Unfortunately the veteran d-man flipped the puck into his own goal.
  • Speaking of Outhouse, the 20 year-old goalie returned to the lineup after missing three games with injury. Outhouse looked no worse for wear. The Royals also had 20 year-old Ralph Jarratt back in the lineup after missing 11 games. Those two need to be mainstays for the Royals to have any chance of winning. Without those two overagers, Victoria is average at best. 
  • When I speak of average...I am pointing to teams that are playing near or at the .500 mark. More than a handful full of teams fall into that category, including the .484 winning Kelowna Rockets. The hope is all teams can be above average after the Christmas break in an effort to make a good push for a playoff spot. 
  • The Royals were the biggest surprise this season in the BC Division when they opened with 7 straight wins. I had to only look at their schedule to find out how a team, that had lost so much fire power from last season, was winning hockey games. To be frank, the Royals schedule was not only lite to start the season, but the majority of games were on home ice against inferior competition. The Royals opening eight games were all against BC Division rivals, where four out of the five teams, outside of Vancouver, are expected to tetter around the .500 mark this season.   
  • The good news? The Rockets took only three minors in a game that featured no off-setting penalties for aggressive play. It was so friendly that even Dante Hannoun taped Roman Basran on the pads after making his goal saving stop on the 20 year-old when the game was scoreless. Hey, Christmas is the season for love right?  
  • Remember how bad the Rockets were on home ice to start the season? The team is now 7-1-1-0 in their last 9 games at Prospera Place. They opened the season with 6 straight losses at home. 
  • The Rockets now get set for a four game road trip through the Central Division. It all starts Tuesday in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice. It is a gettable game to open the road trip considering the Ice have just 7 wins in 32 games and the possible news that the team is relocating to Winnipeg at seasons end. The key factor for this years edition of the Kelowna Rockets is to not play down to the level of the opposition. You can't leave these two point on the table to a team that woke up Saturday morning without a regulation win in their last 10 games. 
  • The Rockets have a rare Saturday night off. How rare? It is the first Saturday off in 12 weeks.
  • For those wondering, the team has played 31 games over 71 days, so having Saturday and Sunday off is a welcome reprieve. Only Kootenay (32) have played more games than the Rockets.  
  • I will make sure to do some video for you during our road trip out East. I will post it on my Twitter feed. We will talk to the players about Christmas and share some other shenanigans they may be up too. While the trip is all business, with wins paramount, we need to have some fun too don't we? Talk to you in Cranbrook!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Final home game before Xmas

Shoot the Breeze Photography

Game Day Preview: This is the final home game for the Kelowna Rockets before the Christmas break. The Rockets host the Victoria Royals to wrap up a three game home stand. The Rockets have an overtime loss (5-4) to the Saskatoon Blades and a shootout win over the Tri City Americans (3-2) over that period. This is the fifth meeting of the season between these two teams. The Rockets are 3-1-0-0 in the seasonal series, including a 3-1 victory at Prospera Place back on November 23rd. The Rockets have won the last three meetings after dropping a 4-3 decision on home ice back on October 5th. The Rockets power play is 6 for 16 (37.5%) in the opening four games against Victoria. Liam Kindree has 4+5=9 against the Royals while Lassi Thomson has 3+4=7 against the BC Division rivals. Roman Basran has a sparkling 3-0-0-0 record and a goals against average of 1.33. The Rockets are in Cranbrook this Tuesday to open a four game road trip. The Rockets are 9-5-2-0 in 16 games under head coach Adam Foote.  

Who’s Hot: Nolan Foote has points in 7 of his last 8 games. Foote has 6+5=11 over that stretch. Leif Mattson has four goals in his last 6 games. The 19 year-old has registered at least one shot on goal in 29 of the teams 30 games this season. Kyle Topping has 3 goals in his last 6 games. Topping has registered a point in 22 of the teams 30 games this season.  In his last four appearances, goaltender James Porter has stopped 113 of the last 122 shots (.926 save percentage) he has faced. The Rockets penalty killing unit is 15 for 15 in their last three road games.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets have acquired the playing rights to 17 year-old forward Alex Swetlikoff from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a 4th round bantam pick. Swetlikoff, a Kelowna product, was originally drafted in the third round by the Seattle Thunderbirds. This season, Swetlikoff, who is committed to playing NCAA hockey at the University of Denver…Lassi Thomson has been invited to Team Finland’s training camp for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships….Libor Zabransky has been invited to Team Czech Republic’s training camp as well…...The Rockets traded 19 year-old Jack Cowell to the Kootenay Ice November 29th for a third round bantam pick… The Rockets are 5-8-1-0 against BC Division teams this season…Nolan Foote has scored 9 home goals and 8 road goals this season …7 of Kyle Topping’s 12 goals have come on the road…16 of Topping’s team leading 31 points have come on the road….The Rockets have only one December birthday to celebrate. Lane Zablocki officially turns 20 on December 27th….Four members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s November “Players to Watch’ List. Forward Nolan Foote is an ‘A’ prospect, meaning a first round candidate. Kaedan Korczak is a ‘B’ prospect which means he is a second or third round candidate. Roman Basran/Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospects, which means he could be taken in the third to the seventh round…Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith.,,.The Rockets are 3-7-1-0 when playing the second game of back-to-backs.

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 8 @ Victoria October 19/18 (8-2 W)
Most goals allowed: 9 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L).
Fewest shots on net: 13 @ Edmonton November 17, 2018 (3-1 L)
Most shots allowed: 50 @ Portland November 10, 2018 (3-0 L)
Fewest shots allowed: 20 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Last time shut out at home: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 L)  
Last time shut out on road: November 10, 2018 @ Portland (3-0 L)
Most power play goals allowed: 4 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L). T-Birds were 4/5 on power play.
Most power play goals scored: 4 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)

Roster Stats:
Player total: 22
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 3   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) -  4  Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate
18’s (2000) – 8  Farren, Thomson, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Steffler,
17’s (2001) - 6   Korczak, Crosbie, Basran, Liwiski, Wilton, Augustine
16’s (2002) - 1   Ernst

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Shoot the Breeze Photography

  • I hate the shootout. I absolutely detest it. I will also admit though, it was easier to digest last night after Nolan Foote scored the game winning goal in the 'skills competition' lifting the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-3 win over the visiting Tri City Americans. The Rockets were the better team through 39 minutes, but unfortunately for the home team, regulation time is measured over 60 minutes. Penalty trouble allowed the visiting Americans to battle back, scoring three unanswered goals to send the game into overtime. Two big saves in OT, one from Americans raw rookie goalie Talyn Boyko on Liam Kindree before James Porter made a game saving paddle stop on Krystof Hrabik, sent the game into the dreaded shootout. Porter was flawless while Foote and Leif Mattson scored to allow the Rockets to escape with their 13th victory of the season. On this night, it was lucky 13 as the boys in black were again on the winning end of a one goal game.
  • Did the Rockets deserve the win last night? Maybe not considering they desperately held on in the third period when they were out-shot 12-5. But, I can count several times this season where the team deserved a better fate and lost. A 4-3 overtime loss in Prince George in November stands out like a sore thumb. The Cougars scored the tying goal late in the third period and then lite the lamp early in overtime and escaped with two points. At the end of the day, it all evens out doesn't it? I think it does. The team will likely win games they shouldn't and lose games they had in their clutches.
  • Liam Kindree centred a line with Nolan Foote and Leif Mattson and it paid off in a big way. Kindree was the first star with a goal and an assist and had a glorious chance to end the game on a bang-bang play on a tremendous setup from Nolan Foote on a face-off win in overtime. Kindree has the best hands on the team. The 18 year-old's vision on the ice is superior to many of his teammates and his silky hands as a setup man seems to be the ideal fit with shot happy Foote. Foote, on a setup from Kindree behind the Americans net, scored his 17th goal of the season in the one goal win and turned the red light on in the shootout. 
  • How does James Porter not get a star last night? Someone help me here? Porter made several sensational stops when the Americans were pouring it on in the third period. Of the three goals scored by the Americans, how many were clean shots? One. Americans d-man Aaron Hyman's wrister, with what can only be considered a grade 'A' scoring chance, was the only one that beat Porter cleanly. The other two goals appeared to hit 20 year-old Parker AuCoin, parked in front of Porter, and somehow found the back of the net. 
  • The Americans were awarded 7 power play chances. They score on two of them. Many penalties were warranted. Others were not. Lassi Thomson's perfectly executed hip check in the third period was one that didn't deserve two minutes in the penalty box, but like the NHL, body contact is no longer looked upon with favour. Fortunately. Dalton Gally's massive crunch on Americans speedster Evan Bouchard at center ice in the third period went left undetected by both officials.
  • Speaking of Gally...how good was he last night? Seeing massive time on the penalty kill, the 20 year-old made great decisions with the puck and won more battles in the corners than he lost in the one goal victory. I thought he was terrific. In my opinion, Gally is the best transaction GM Bruce Hamilton has made this season. The best! I think Gally is the best overager the team has right now. Not bad for a 10th round bantam pick that the Medicine Hat Tigers elected to throw away. Not flashy, three star selectors will never pick a guy who doesn't hit the score-sheet. It's sad, yet true that we don't award players on effort rather than skill.  
  • The win moved the Rockets into sole possession of second place in the BC Division, two points up on both the Victoria Royals and Kamloops Blazers. Yes, the Rockets have played significantly more games then their BC Division counterparts, but for a team that was sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference not that long ago, situated 5th among the 10 teams looks a lot better right now.
  • The Rockets close out the home portion of their pre-Christmas schedule tomorrow night against the Victoria Royals. The Royals have played 6 fewer games, or have 12 available points to them in order to gain ground and leapfrog over their BC Division counterparts. If they don't, look for the Royals to offload players and subtract rather than add with the WHL trade deadline looming large. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Rockets face Americans - again!

Shoot the Breeze Photography

Game Day Preview: This is the second to last home game before the Christmas break. The Rockets host Victoria Friday before heading out on the road for four consecutive games to wrap up the opening half of the season. The Rockets host the Tri City Americans tonight in the fourth and finally meeting of the season between these two playoff rivals. The Rockets are 2-1-0-0, with all three games decided by a single goal. The road team has won all three games; including the Rockets 3-2 overtime win last Friday at Toyota Center. The Americans beat the Rockets at Prospera Place (5-4) back on October 13th. Leif Mattson, Kaedan Korczak and Kyle Topping lead the Rockets offensively in the three games with four points apiece. Mattson and rookie Dallon Wilton lead the team in goals with two each against the Am’s. The Rockets are 8-5-2-0 in 15 games under head coach Adam Foote.   

Who’s Hot: Nolan Foote has points in 6 of his last 7 games. Foote has 5+4=9 over that stretch. Leif Mattson has four goals in his last 5 games. The 19 year-old has registered at least one shot on goal in 28 of the teams 29 games this season. Kyle Topping has 3 goals in his last 5 games. Topping has registered a point in 21 of the teams 29 games this season.  In his last three appearances, goaltender James Porter has stopped 85 of the last 91 shots (.934 save percentage) he has faced. The Rockets penalty killing unit is 15 for 15 in their last three road games.

Broadcasters Notebook: Lassi Thomson has been invited to Team Finland’s training camp for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships….Libor Zabransky has been invited to Team Czech Republic’s training camp as well…...The Rockets traded 19 year-old Jack Cowell to the Kootenay Ice November 29th for a third round bantam pick… The Rockets are 5-8-1-0 against BC Division teams this season…Nolan Foote has scored 8 home goals and 8 road goals this season …7 of Kyle Topping’s 12 goals have come on the road…16 of Topping’s team leading 31 points have come on the road….The Rockets have only one December birthday to celebrate. Lane Zablocki officially turns 20 on December 27th….Four members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s November “Players to Watch’ List. Forward Nolan Foote is an ‘A’ prospect, meaning a first round candidate. Kaedan Korczak is a ‘B’ prospect which means he is a second or third round candidate. Roman Basran/Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospects, which means he could be taken in the third to the seventh round…Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith.,,.The Rockets are 3-7-1-0 when playing the second game of back-to-backs….The opposition has opened the scoring in three straight games…The Rockets have scored 38 goals on home ice, or 2.92 goals per game…Last season after 13 home games the team had scored 57 goals or 4.4 goals per game.

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 8 @ Victoria October 19/18 (8-2 W)
Most goals allowed: 9 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L).
Fewest shots on net: 13 @ Edmonton November 17, 2018 (3-1 L)
Most shots allowed: 50 @ Portland November 10, 2018 (3-0 L)
Fewest shots allowed: 20 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Last time shut out at home: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 L)  
Last time shut out on road: November 10, 2018 @ Portland (3-0 L)
Most power play goals allowed: 4 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L). T-Birds were 4/5 on power play.
Most power play goals scored: 4 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)

Roster Stats:
Player total: 22
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 3   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) -  4  Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate
18’s (2000) – 8  Farren, Thomson, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Steffler,
17’s (2001) - 6   Korczak, Crosbie, Basran, Liwiski, Wilton, Augustine
16’s (2002) - 1   Ernst

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Terrific game on Teddy Bear Toss night

Shoot the Breeze Photo
  • Half cup full or half cup empty? I will take half cup full please! How can you not walk away from last night's Kelowna Rockets 5-4 overtime loss to the Saskatoon Blades without yelling out like Russell Crowe did in the movie Gladiator, "Are you not entertained"? In a terrific game played at Prospera Place, the Rockets rallied from a third period 4-2 deficit to tie the score before losing in overtime. Down 3-1 heading into the final 20 minutes, the Rockets received goals from Leif Mattson, Braydyn Chizen and Kyle Topping and earned a point when it looked like the home team would come away empty handed. Sure, the game was not without a flawless performance, nor can we expect it to be with a team that sits precariously in second place in the BC Division with 29 games already under its belt. For two teams feeling fatigue, with the Rockets playing the previous night in Tri City and the Blades ending a BC Division road trip, the fans were treated to a beauty.
  • The pace of the game was really terrific. I will go out on a limb and suggest it was one, if not the fastest game I've seen the Rockets play this season. Yep, the Rockets matched the pace, which honestly surprised me in a game that featured several glorious scoring chances at both ends. I don't think Adam Foote liked the way it was going on the Rockets bench. Mitch Love would likely agree that it was way too wide open, but coaches, can we just back off for just a second and enjoy the game for what it was? In a season where so many games are hum-drum with an emphasis on defensive hockey, this was a 180 shift from what coaches typically like and the 51 hundred fans enjoyed it.  
  • The game winning goal came from Blades d-man Dawson Davidson, who went in a breakaway and beat James Porter between the legs. The scoring chance came courtesy of Kaedan Korczak gambling by attempting to take a pass in close on Blades goaltender Nolan Maier. The pass is intercepted and Davidson is sent up ice with nothing but the Rockets net in front of him. If the pass does get through from Leif Mattson to Korczak, it is likely game over and it looks like a terrific play. Sure, it backfired. That said, I rather see the team be aggressive in overtime and wanting to win rather than playing with the fear of losing. I know the coaches will think otherwise, but I'm a fan of the game, not a coach.
  • Rookie Mark Liwiski scored the 'Teddy Bear Toss Goal'. The rookie forwards chip shot on a point blast from d-man Devin Steffler made it a 3-1 score. It was Liwiski's second goal of the season for a forward who does his best work by getting involved physically. The Teddy Bear's came raining down from the crowd, and after a short 8 minute clean up, we were back to the action.
  • It was nice to see Braydyn Chizen find the back of the net for his first goal of the season. His seeing eye slapper was essentially the key in the comeback bid. Prior to last nights strike, the 20 year-old hadn't scored since hitting pay dirt March 14, 2018 against Prince George. Eight of Chizen's 11 career goals have come at Prospera Place. Showoff. ;) 
  • I really liked the play of 16 year-old Ethan Ernst last night. Collecting an assist on Chizen's blast from the blue-line, Ernst is gaining more confidence and it is clearly evident. I thought he had some excellent shifts against a quick skating team and didn't look out of place.
  • When Lane Zablocki plays with pace, it's amazing what he can accomplish. His move off the half wall in setting up Kyle Topping for the tying goal late in the third period was a perfect example of how he needs to use his speed and determination to set up a teammate. I also liked Liam Kindree's dipsy doodle move off the boards for a glorious scoring chance in the second period. I have never seen Kindree do that. I will have seconds of that please!       
  • Korczak, Libor Zabransky and Erik Gardiner all celebrated 100 games milestones last night. Gardiner hit 100 games in the WHL earlier this month, but this was his 100th with the Rockets.
  • In the first intermission, colour analyst Kent Simpson had Blades GM Colin Priestner on the airwaves for a live interview. Simpson took the interview in the direction I love....talking to Priestner about his singing career and the fact he was a top ranked junior tennis player and competed in NCAA at Illinois University. Great line of questioning. 
  • It was also nice to chat with Blades HC Mitch Love before the game. I'm a fan I will admit. Always engaging, I've talked to Mitch many times over the years when he was a player and then assistant coach in Everett. He is a guy you cheer for because of his dedication to the craft of coaching. Love won't turn the fortunes around of the Blades in one season, but his stamp is clearly evident on a team that has missed the playoffs in five straight seasons. In 2018-2019, the team is good enough to be prancing and dancing in post season for the first time since 2012-2013.
  • In a tie with Victoria for second place in the BC Division, the game Friday against them is extremely large considering the Royals have played 7 fewer games. That is 14 points that the Royals have in the bank, if they run the table and win all seven. Despite the discrepancy in games played, it's better to be in second place than in the basement where the team has spent far too much time looking above them, not below them in the standings.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Rockets vs. Americans


Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Tri City Americans tonight at Toyota Center. This is the third meeting of the season between the two teams, with the road team winning both games. Back on October 12th, the Rockets earned a 3-2 win. Then a night later, back at Prospera Place, the Americans were a 5-4 winner. The seasonal series ends next Wednesday (December 5th) in Kelowna. Kaedan Korczak and Kyle Topping lead the team with 1+2=3 in the two games. Rookie Dallon Wilton has two goals in the two games. The Rockets are 10-3-1-0 in their last 14 regular season games against the Americans. These two teams combined are 16-0-0-0 when leading after 40 minutes of play. The Rockets host Saskatoon tomorrow night before hosting the Americans next Wednesday. The Rockets are 7-5-1-0 in 13 games under Adam Foote.  

November’s best performers: With the month coming to close, Nolan Foote and Liam Kindree have had the most offensive success. Foote (8+3=11) and Kindree (2+8=10) lead the way. Kyle Topping has 9 points (5+4=9) in November while Leif Mattson (1+7=8) has 8 points this month.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets are playing their 16th road game tonight. Edmonton has played a league high 18 road games…The Rockets own the third best road penalty killing unit in the WHL. The PK at home is second last only behind league worst Brandon…The Rockets are 5-8-1-0 against BC Division teams this season….Can you name the only team in the Western Conference the Rockets haven’t yet played? The answer – the Spokane Chiefs….Three players will celebrate 100 games played with the Kelowna Rockets, at the same time, Saturday against the visiting Saskatoon Blades. Kaedan Korczak, Libor Zabransky and Erik Gardiner will hit the 100 games played mark on that night. Gardner hit the 100 games played milestone in the WHL recently, but Saturday’s game will be his 100th with the Rockets. The 19 year-old  had played four previous games with the Regina Pats before being traded….Nolan Foote has scored 8 home goals and 8 road goals this season…Foote is two points shy (98) of 100 for his career …7 of Kyle Topping’s 11 goals have come on the road…15 of Topping’s team leading 30 points have come on the road…Nolan Foote turned 18 yesterday….Four members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s November “Players to Watch’ List. Forward Nolan Foote is an ‘A’ prospect, meaning a first round candidate. Kaedan Korczak is a ‘B’ prospect which means he is a second or third round candidate. Roman Basran/Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospects, which means he could be taken in the third to the seventh round…Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith.

Trade Winds: The Rockets traded 18 year-old Wil Kushniryk to the Tri City Americans October 22, 2018 for a 5th round bantam pick. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old defenceman Dalton Galley October 10, 2018 from Medicine Hat for a 10th round bantam pick. The hockey club acquired 18 year-old forward Michael Farren October 11th from the Saskatoon Blades for a third round pick. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki from Victoria for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick on September 29th.

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 8 @ Victoria October 19/18 (8-2 W)
Most goals allowed: 9 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L).
Fewest shots on net: 13 @ Edmonton November 17, 2018 (3-1 L)
Most shots allowed: 50 @ Portland November 10, 2018 (3-0 L)
Fewest shots allowed: 20 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Last time shut out at home: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 L)  
Last time shut out on road: November 10, 2018 @ Portland (3-0 L)
Most power play goals allowed: 4 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L). T-Birds were 4/5 on power play.
Most power play goals scored: 4 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 3   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) – 9  Farren, Thomson, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Pow, Steffler,
17’s (2001) - 6   Korczak, Crosbie, Basran, Liwiski, Wilton, Augustine
16’s (2002) - 1   Ernst

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Rockets/G-Men preview


Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets close out the month of November with a pair of games this week including a home game tonight against the visiting Vancouver Giants. The Rockets are 11-1-1-0 in the last 13 games against the G-Men at Prospera Place, with that one regulation loss coming on October 3rd when the Giants earned a 5-0 shutout. The Rockets have scored just one goal in the two game seasonal series. That one goal came off the stick of Kyle Topping in a 3-1 road loss. Roman Basran has started in both games against Vancouver, posting a goals against average of 4.11 with a save percentage of .869. The Rockets are coming off a 2-1 loss Saturday in Everett. Kyle Topping had the lone goal in the teams’ 14th loss of the season. The Rockets are in Tri City Friday before hosting the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday. The Rockets are 7-4-1-0 in 12 games under Adam Foote. The team has won 5 straight at home. 
  
November’s best performers: With the month coming to close, Liam Kindree and Nolan Foote have had the most offensive success. Foote (7+3=10) and Kindree (2+8=10) lead the way with 10 points apiece. Kyle Topping has 9 points (5+4=9) in November while Leif Mattson (1+6=7) has 7 points this month.

Broadcasters Notebook: Three players will celebrate 100 games played with the Kelowna Rockets, at the same time, Saturday against the visiting Saskatoon Blades. Kaedan Korczak, Libor Zabransky and Erik Gardiner will hit the 100 games played mark on that night. Gardner hit the 100 games played milestone in the WHL recently, but Saturday’s game will be his 100th with the Rockets. The 19 year-old  had played four previous games with the Regina Pats before being traded….Nolan Foote has scored 7 home goals and 8 road goals this season…Foote is three points shy (97) of 100 for his career …7 of Kyle Topping’s 11 goals have come on the road…15 of Topping’s team leading 30 points have come on the road…Nolan Foote turns 18 tomorrow….Four members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s November “Players to Watch’ List. Forward Nolan Foote is an ‘A’ prospect, meaning a first round candidate. Kaedan Korczak is a ‘B’ prospect which means he is a second or third round candidate. Roman Basran/Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospects, which means he could be taken in the third to the seventh round…Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith.

Trade Winds: The Rockets traded 18 year-old Wil Kushniryk to the Tri City Americans October 22, 2018 for a 5th round bantam pick. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old defenceman Dalton Galley October 10, 2018 from Medicine Hat for a 10th round bantam pick. The hockey club acquired 18 year-old forward Michael Farren October 11th from the Saskatoon Blades for a third round pick. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki from Victoria for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick on September 29th.

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 8 @ Victoria October 19/18 (8-2 W)
Most goals allowed: 9 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L).
Fewest shots on net: 13 @ Edmonton November 17, 2018 (3-1 L)
Most shots allowed: 50 @ Portland November 10, 2018 (3-0 L)
Fewest shots allowed: 20 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Last time shut out at home: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 L)  
Last time shut out on road: November 10, 2018 @ Portland (3-0 L)
Most power play goals allowed: 4 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L). T-Birds were 4/5 on power play.
Most power play goals scored: 4 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 3   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) – 9  Farren, Thomson, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Pow, Steffler,
17’s (2001) - 6   Korczak, Crosbie, Basran, Liwiski, Wilton, Augustine
16’s (2002) - 1   Ernst

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Rockets spoil Porter's terrific effort

Chris Mast Photo
  • It happened against the Prince George Cougars in a 4-3 overtime road loss. It happened again last night in a 2-1 setback in Everett. Surrendering a late third period goal was the Kelowna Rockets undoing. Instead of earning two points in Prince George, the team had to settle for one when the home team scored with 17 second left in the third period. Against the Tips, instead of going into overtime, leading scorer Connor Dewar fired home the game winning goal with 54.7 seconds left in regulation time in Everett's one goal win. The Rockets spoiled a tremendous goaltending display from James Porter. It was Porter that essentially allowed his team to be in a great position to provide the upset against the Western Conference's top team. Porter was the best player on the ice, and needed to be, as the Rockets again limped into a road game after playing the previous night at home. Porter made 40 saves, with only Dewar able to beat him twice, once in the second period and the game winner with time ticking down. The loss snapped the Rockets three game winning streak and didn't allow them to gain any ground on second place Victoria, who lost in Vancouver, while fifth place Kamloops also lost on the road in Spokane. 
  • One more note on Porter. While he wasn't making massive saves and making it look difficult, it was the way he was square to shooters and absorbing pucks into his body that was the most impressive aspect of his game. The 18 year-old's rebound control is often his weakness, but that wasn't the case last night. Like a vacuum, Porter was able to suck long and close range shots into his body with perfection. I thought it was his best game ever in a Rockets uniform and he was worthy of second star status. 
  • The Tips were clearly the aggressors in the game. They had the puck a significant amount of time and o-zone play was predominantly in front of Porter. The Rockets did a great job of defending and were again only a strike away from tying the score. That happened, when Kyle Topping fired home a power play goal, and despite a lopsided shot clock, a point was feasible in a building where success has been hard to come by. Dewar dashed any hopes though, when he scored his 20th goal of the season and the Rockets left Washington State empty handed - again.
  • What's with the Rockets penalty killing unit on the road? It is lights out terrific. The PK was 4 for 4 last night and is now the third best unit on the road in the WHL. By contrast, the PK at home is rated second worst in the 22 team circuit ahead of only dead last Brandon. If anyone can explain this, I'm all ears. The team has been shorthanded 21 more times on the road than at home yet the success rate in killing penalties is significantly greater.
  • Liam Kindree is having success centering a line with Erik Gardiner and Lane Zablocki. Kindree, learning the position after playing primarily on the wing, is 23 for  32 in the face-off circle in the last three games. Kindree is also riding a four game point streak, his longest of the season. 
  • It is pivotal for that line to be going, taking some offensive heat off of the top line of Leif Mattson, Nolan Foote and Kyle Topping. Right now the third line is generating little, with 19 year-old Connor Bruggen-Cate marred in a 12 game goal scoring drought while Jack Cowell hasn't hit pay dirt in 10 games and  has only one in his last 13 games. Maybe that third line is just a checking line with no need to score? If that indeed is the case, then stay the course with what those 19 year-old players are contributing. It should come as no surprise than that the Rockets have only 71 goals this season, tied for fourth fewest in the WHL.   
  • The team ended a stretch of playing 9 games in 16 days. Of those 9, seven were on the road. Now they get set for a home date against the Vancouver Giants Wednesday followed by another single game south of the border in Tri City on Friday. The team returns to Prospera Place to face the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday to open the month of December. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Rockets and Royals rumble

Marrisa Baecker photo

Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets take a four game home ice winning streak in tonight’s game against the Victoria Royals. The Rockets have beaten Swift Current (3-2), Prince George (4-3 OTW), Brandon (4-3) and Regina (3-2). Yes, all four games have been decided by a single goal. In fact, of the 10 home games this season, 6 have been decided by one goal. The Royals are making two appearances at Prospera Place in two weeks. Victoria is here again Friday December 7th. These two teams are a combined 15-0-0-0 when carrying the lead into the third period. The Rockets are 8-0-0-0 when that happens. The Rockets have trailed going into the third period 13 times this season (1-11-1-0). The Rockets are in Everett tomorrow night before closing out the month of November Wednesday against visiting Vancouver. The team heads to Tri City to face the Americans one week from tonight. The Rockets are 6-3-1-0 in 10 games under Adam Foote. In the opening 10 games under Jason Smith, the team was 2-8-0-0.  

Digg’n Deeper: Liam Kindree leads the Rockets with 3+4=7 in the three games in the seasonal series vs. Victoria. Lassi Thomson and Nolan Foote also have 3 goals in the three games…Roman Basran has appeared in two games against the Royals, posting an impressive 2-0-0-0 record with a goals against average of 1.50 and a save percentage of .933….The Rockets power play has been deadly against Victoria with 5 goals in 12 chances, for a whopping efficiency rate of 41.7%.

Broadcasters Notebook: Nolan Foote has the second most goals (15) of any 2000 born player in the WHL. Brett Kemp of Edmonton has 16 goals…Foote has scored 7 home goals and 8 road goals this season…Foote is three points shy (97) of 100 for his career…Kyle Topping plays in his 150th career game tonight…6 of Topping’s 9 goals have come on the road…15 of Topping’s team leading 28 points have come on the road…Leif Mattson has gone 15 games without a goal… Nolan Foote turns 18 on November 29th …Four members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s November “Players to Watch’ List. Forward Nolan Foote is an ‘A’ prospect, meaning a first round candidate. Kaedan Korczak is a ‘B’ prospect which means he is a second or third round candidate. Roman Basran/Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospects, which means he could be taken in the third to the seventh round…Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith…Leif Mattson earned his 100th career point with an assist Wednesday vs. Regina. 

Trade Winds: The Rockets traded 18 year-old Wil Kushniryk to the Tri City Americans October 22, 2018 for a 5th round bantam pick. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old defenceman Dalton Galley October 10, 2018 from Medicine Hat for a 10th round bantam pick. The hockey club acquired 18 year-old forward Michael Farren October 11th from the Saskatoon Blades for a third round pick. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki from Victoria for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick on September 29th.

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 8 @ Victoria October 19/18 (8-2 W)
Most goals allowed: 9 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L).
Fewest shots on net: 13 @ Edmonton November 17, 2018 (3-1 L)
Most shots allowed: 50 @ Portland November 10, 2018 (3-0 L)
Fewest shots allowed: 20 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Last time shut out at home: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 L)  
Last time shut out on road: November 10, 2018 @ Portland (3-0 L)
Most power play goals allowed: 4 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L). T-Birds were 4/5 on power play.
Most power play goals scored: 4 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 3   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) – 9  Farren, Thomson, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Pow, Steffler,
17’s (2001) - 6   Korczak, Crosbie, Basran, Liwiski, Wilton, Augustine
16’s (2002) - 1   Ernst

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Rockets prepare for Pats

Head Coach Adam Foote

Game Day Preview: Welcome home! The Kelowna Rockets return home for the first time in 8 games when they host the Regina Pats in the lone meeting of the season. The Rockets are enjoying playing 6 of their next 8 games at Prospera Place after completing their longest road trip of the season, going 2-3-1-0 on a 6 game in 9 night road trip. The team earned 3-1 wins in Seattle and Edmonton and suffered a 4-3 overtime loss in Prince George, earning 5 out of a possible 12 points. The Rockets host Victoria Friday before visiting the Everett Silvertips Saturday night. The team is 5-3-1-0 in 9 games under new head coach Adam Foote.   

Broadcasters Notebook: Lane Zablocki played 105 regular season games with the Pats (2015-2017) collecting 27+35=62 over that period….Erik Gardiner was acquired from the Pats November 30, 2016 in a deal that saw the team acquire James Hilsendager for defenceman Jonathon Smart. Smart was eventually dealt to the Kootenay Ice. Gardiner was the Pats second round pick in 2014...Rockets Athletic Therapist Scott Hoyer was born in Regina. Subsequently, Pats Athletic Therapist Greg Mayer was born in Kelowna…Nolan Foote has the same number of goals, 13, as he did a season ago. Foote had a career high 19 goals in his rookie season….Leif Mattson’s three assists in Edmonton Saturday gave him 99 career points…Mattson has gone 14 games without a goal…Nolan Foote has 95 career points…Foote had 6 goals in his opening 21 games as a rookie and had 5 goals in his opening 21 games in his sophomore season. This season, the third year forward has 13 goals in 21 games….Liam Kindree’s goals in Edmonton Saturday was his first in 10 games…Kyle Topping turned 19 on Sunday…Nolan Foote turns 18 on November 29th …Four members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s November “Players to Watch’ List. Forward Nolan Foote is an ‘A’ prospect, meaning a first round candidate. Kaedan Korczak is a ‘B’ prospect which means he is projected to be selected in the second or third round. Roman Basran and Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospects, which means he could be taken in the third to the seventh round…Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith.

Trade Winds: The Rockets traded 18 year-old Wil Kushniryk to the Tri City Americans on October 22, 2018 for a 5th round bantam pick. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old defenceman Dalton Galley October 10, 2018 from the Medicine Hat Tigers for a 10th round bantam pick. The hockey club acquired 18 year-old forward Michael Farren October 11th from the Saskatoon Blades for a third round WHL bantam pick. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick on September 29th.

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 8 @ Victoria October 19/18 (8-2 W)
Most goals allowed: 9 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L).
Fewest shots on net: 13 @ Edmonton November 17, 2018 (3-1 L)
Most shots allowed: 50 @ Portland November 10, 2018 (3-0 L)
Fewest shots allowed: 20 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Last time shut out at home: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 L)  
Last time shut out on road: November 10, 2018 @ Portland (3-0 L)
Most power play goals allowed: 4 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L). T-Birds were 4/5 on power play.
Most power play goals scored: 4 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 3   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) – 9  Farren, Thomson, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Pow, Steffler,
17’s (2001) - 6   Korczak, Crosbie, Basran, Liwiski, Wilton, Augustine
16’s (2002) - 1   Ernst

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Monday, November 19, 2018

Lucky 13 to end the trip!


Panoramic view of Rockets dressing room in Edmonton
  • 13. Yep, the Kelowna Rockets manufactured only 13 shots on goal Saturday night in a 3-1 road win in Edmonton. Few teams are able to win a game that way, but the road weary Rockets did. Catching the heavily favoured Oil Kings off guard, Nolan Foote struck for two goals and added an assists as the team ended a stretch of 6 games in 9 nights on a high note. I honestly thought it was a pretty gusty effort for a team that sent a message by not dressing two 19 year-old forwards and were coming off a 7-0 loss the previous night in Red Deer. In what can only be described as solid team play, the Rockets did what is needed when they are both fresher physically and mentally. I though the commitment to shot blocking and getting into shooting lanes was tremendous. Timely scoring, with Nolan Foote finding the back of the net :36 seconds apart in the second period didn't hurt. I also thought Roman Basran was money when the Oil Kings pulled its goalie with over two minutes left in the game and the road team holding on to a two goal lead. I am not sure what this win in particular did to the teams psyche, but I'd review the video tapes and say to the players, "This is how we have to play".   
  • My only complaint in Saturday's win is the number of pucks directed towards the Oil King net. As you might expect, 13 is a season low for the Rockets. But that is getting very, very picky when you again take into account playing six games in 9 nights in five different cities. To be honest, I will take 13 quality shots over 30 from the perimeter that never have a hope and a prayer of going in. On this night, quality over quantity reined supreme for a team that hasn't enjoyed much puck luck this season.
  • Nolan Foote's two goals gives him 13 on the season. That is the exact same total he scored a season ago. With 13 goals in 21 games, the about to turn 18 year-old has two more goals than Jamie Benn did at that same age. In 2007-2008, Benn, already drafted as Foote has a late birth-date, scored 33 times as an 18 year-old rookie. Foote has the benefit of playing in his third season in the WHL, but you get the idea of what type of offensive numbers the soft spoken forward is putting up this season. I still have Foote scoring 30+ goals this season and I am sticking to it. At 19, like Benn, Foote has to be pushing the envelope on 50 you would think? That's next year country though. Let's enjoy him for the player he is now!
  • I was glad to see Leif Mattson shine offensively in Saturday's game. With a goal taken away and credited to Foote, the 19 year-old had three assists. It is only a matter of time before he snaps a 14 game goal scoring drought. What really matters is he hit the score-sheet on all three goals. If you are 19, specifically on this team, you need to produce scoring chances or do something that shows you are worthy of being in the line-up. If you can't, why not play younger forwards who can grow and mature and are willing to play the way head coach Adam Foote wants them to play? 
  • I am still a believer that the Rockets have to win the 2-1, 3-1 and 3-2 games.Tight, lower scoring games need to be the norm for this team to have success. Both wins on the road were 3-1 victories. The game in Prince George, which they should have won in regulation time, was a 4-3 overtime loss. If you ask head coach Adam Foote, he would suggest Sunday's 4-2 setback in Portland was also a gettable game. I thought too the team had a good chance of earning two points, which again was a great bounce back game after losing the previous night to the Winterhawks by a score of 3-0.
  • I sure liked the success the penalty killing unit had on the trip. In only one of the six games did they surrender two goals against. Not surprisingly it happened in the 7-0 loss in Red Deer. Facing two of the best power play units in the league (Portland/Edmonton), the team was 6 for 6 against Portland in game one, 4 for 4 in game two against the Winterhawks and 5 for 5 against the Oil Kings.
  • One thing that can be easily overlooked on this road trip is health. The team suffered no significant injures. That is tough to do, but the team came away with a bump and a bruise but no long term injuries. Knock on wood, that is big for any team, but specifically for one that has some depth issues.
  • While I don't play favourites, I have to admit 20 year-old Dalton Gally is really growing on me. Gally has it figured out. Mature beyond belief, his heart felt answers on pre-game interviews shows how intelligent he is, how much he wants to win and how great of a leader he truly is. A castoff of the Medicine Hat Tigers, I can't remember the last player acquired through trade that had these type of leadership qualities? Again, this is coming from a defensive defenceman who is dependable and isn't fooling himself on the way he must play to be effective. I think he has captain written all over him. The last defensive d-man to wear the 'C' on his jersey was Brett Palin. Gavin McLeod too was a nice choice when I first called games for the team in 2000-2001. In speaking to Gally after Friday's 7-0 loss to Red Deer he told me, "He was embarrassed". I just love the fact he cares so much. 
  • Gally was telling me that he routinely writes in a journal and gets his thoughts on paper. Gally first got the idea from mental performance coach Bob Wilkie. Wilkie, a former teammate of Dan Lambert with the Swift Current Broncos, is the president of I Got Mind. Check out the website at igotmind.ca. Gally says using the journal and having dialogue with Wilkie has really improved, not only his mental game, but his physical game. It almost looked odd to see Gally writing in his journal in the lobby of an Edmonton hotel while fellow teammates had their eyes glued, like any typical teenager, to their cellphones. 
  • They say a road trip like this can bring a team together, and despite a lack of  success on the ice, I have to agree. Many laughs were shared along the way. Whether its telling jokes on the bus, having lunch with teammates on an off day, or just chilling out in a hotel room, these are valuable times for a team that has seen vast changes under a new head coach.   
  • A quick tip of the hat, or is it a honk of the horn to bus driver Greg Link? Often forgotten by some, Link's work over the last 10/11 days was rock solid. A steady hand behind the wheel on that treacherous drive from Edmonton to Red Deer on Saturday must be tough on the nerves.We have the easy part of just sitting back and relaxing and seeing semi truck after semi truck sitting idly by in the snowy ditch. Outside of a change-over of drivers at 100 Mile House, with Mel Billings driving the rest of the way to Prince George, Greg Link was behind the wheel for the majority of the 3000+ clicks.   
  • Oh, before I forget, Rockets assistant coach Kris Mallette rolled the dice when he decided to get team accommodations at Delta Hotels by Marriott Edmonton Centre Suites. What an outstanding hotel. Home run. Do I dare say the best on the circuit? Much, if not all of the rooms have been renovated and the glass shower was amazing. They treated us like gold. I want to throw an endorsement out there if you want to stay in downtown Edmonton, only a five minute walk from Rogers Place. Stay there and reward yourself!
  • After spending 10 or 11 days on the road, it is great to be back home. It is nice to know 6 of the next 8 games will be played at Prospera Place. Sure, we have road games in Everett this Saturday and a one gamer in Tri City in two weeks, but sleeping in your own bed before a four game road trip before Christmas will be a nice reprieve.