Monday, October 29, 2018

Winning while signing Wong

Trevor Wong featured on video screen before debut 
  • The Kelowna Rockets were winners on the ice and off it Saturday night. The team signed highly touted 15 year-old prospect Trevor Wong and then went out and earned a 4-3 overtime victory against the Prince George Cougars. The Wong signing is significant for many reasons, which I will get too momentarily, but the win itself was huge as it marked the first time this season the team was able to record back-to-back victories at Prospera Place. With four wins in their last five games, the team is trending upward in a BC Division that has seen both Kamloops and Prince George stumble out of the gates. While the Rockets overall play has improved, so has that of the Blazers and Cougars. The good news is the Rockets are in the mix despite a horrendous start that saw them at the bottom of the WHL standings at one point. Trust me, they are a long way from keeping their head above water on a consistent basis, but at least now they are treading water and limiting the number if times it dips under the surface. In the opening two weeks of the season, the team was drowning and no one in the WHL was willing to throw them a life preserver. And do you blame them? The answer is no! 
  • The Trevor Wong signing came as a bit of a surprise to me, only for the fact that I spoke to both father Ed and Trevor at training camp and both were in tune on the benefits of the WHL and what NCAA hockey had to offer. At the time they seemed both undecided on which way to go. I credit them for listening to both sides of the argument and making an informed decision from there. They were not tricked or persuaded in choosing the Kelowna Rockets over Denver University. I would bet the Denver Pioneers were aggressive in pursuing Wong, and heck they got a verbal commitment out of him before the Rockets even selected him in 2018. When picking Wong in the WHL bantam draft, 18th overall, it may have sent a clear signal to the 15 year-old and his family that the organization was willing to stick their neck out for the highly touted forward, who many teams simply wouldn't touch when he made it clear the NCAA was his likely first landing spot. The gamble, which was mighty risky, did pay off.
  • The Wong's attended training camp in late August and got a general sense then that they loved the city, the team and the winning environment that few in the WHL can equal. While I am told winning the Memorial Cup bid in 2020 was not a tipping point on whether Wong committed or not, it surely didn't hurt. I have no inside information on this, but I am assuming Adam Foote's hiring as head coach was just a cherry on top for the Wong's to consider the WHL, who routinely lose recruitment wars with the NCAA. Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton told me current player Liam Kindree also had a hand in telling Trevor Wong the positives of  playing junior hockey in Kelowna. In my opinion, if a player and his family is on the fence, does it not only make sense to speak to a player directly to see how his experience has been with the organization? I am not a recruiter, but if I had a hand in it, I would put a video together of the current NHL players that have come through the organization and feature them giving testimonials on what they experienced at the WHL level. Heck, it doesn't need to be just NHL players. Many have come through the locker room and have gone on to other things outside of pro hockey and have glowing reviews of their Rockets experience. 
  • I don't think many realize the significance of Wong's signing. After dealing away first round WHL bantam picks for Leon Draisaitl and Reid Gardiner, it has crippled the Rockets to a certain degree to build a contender with high end, young talent. Face it, first round bantam picks are the building blocks for success. Selecting in the second round with your first pick in the draft puts you at a distinct disadvantage. That is why Ethan Bowen, the  teams first pick in the second round in 2017 is another vital player to obtain in an effort to increase the skill level among the franchises younger talent. It is players like Trevor Wong and Ethan Bowen that give the team a chance at long playoff runs beyond 2020. Wong and Bowen make the team a contender in 2021, 2022 and 2023.       
  • Wong made his debut Saturday night wearing jersey #14. Eligible to play in a maximum five games this season as an underage player, we could see him again when the team makes its Alberta road trip before the Christmas break. Shane McColgan did just that as a 15 year-old in Red Deer in December of 2008. A night later in Edmonton he scored his first career WHL goal. We will be watching Wong closely this season as he and his Greater Vancouver Canadians compete for a BC Major Midget Hockey League crown.  
  • On the ice, Nolan Foote returned to the line-up after a two game absence and scored the game winner in overtime. Foote's snap shot without hesitation,when it hits its desired target, is one of the best in his draft class. The about to turn 18 year-old is now tied for the team lead with 8 goals and has found the back of the net in four straight games. It was a slow start for Foote, who had only two goals in opening eight games. 
  • While fighting the puck at times, I thought goaltender Roman Barsan was significant in the one goal win. When the Cougars dominated play in the third period by owning the puck for significant stretches, Basran had to be sharp to keep the visitors off the board with 14 saves in the final period.
  • Kyle Topping continues to impress. Another player off to slow start, the 19 year-old now has points in 10 games. The early struggles to the season as a team also impacted Topping, who had only one goal in the opening 7 games. 
  • The power play has really come alive over the last few weeks. It bailed out the team again Saturday with three of the four goals coming courtesy of the extra man. The Cougars were guilty of taking several undisciplined penalties and the Rockets made the most of their chances. The best goal of the night came when defenceman Lassi Thomson, even strength, went coast-to-coast and scored what is right now the best goal by any Rockets player this season. That will undoubtedly make the WHL Plays of the Week.   
  • Five of Thomson's 7 goals this season have come on home ice. Never one in hesitating to rush with the puck, the 18 year-old's confidence level continues to soar. If he keeps it up, so will his draft status. 
  • With an extremely quiet schedule after playing its opening 15 games in 26 night's, the team has ample time to practice under new head coach Adam Foote. Frankly, the timing couldn't be better with the Brandon Wheat Kings providing the opposition Saturday night before the team heads out on a 6 game road trip. That 6 game roady will be a tell tale sign if this team is indeed better than their record shows (6-10-0-0) or will it answer the question if they will struggle all season long to even get close to playing .500 hockey?
  • Two more notes. Tip of the hat to the parents and the kids who came out Saturday night for the Halloween candy scramble. Wow. The number of kids on the ice in the second intermission was eye popping.
  • Congrats to Rourke Chartier in scoring his first career NHL goal Sunday night. The San Jose Shark forward scored that first goal in only his 8th career game. If your wondering, Chartier tied Duncan Keith for the second quickest NHL goal to start a career among Kelowna Rockets alumni. Keith also scored his first career NHL goal against Minnesota in his 8th career game in 2005. The record is held by Jamie Benn, who scored his first NHL goal in only his 4th career game (vs. Vancouver) in 2009. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Rockets/Cougars clash

Shoot the Breeze Photography

Game Day Preview: A quiet weekend for the Kelowna Rockets with only one game against the visiting Prince George Cougars. This is the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rockets are 1-2-0-0, having lost 4-2 and 3-2 before earning a 5-2 victory back on September 29th. After tonight’s game, these two teams meet again November 14th in Prince George for just one game before the team then heads off on an Alberta road trip with stops in Red Deer and Edmonton. The Rockets, winners of four of their last five, are coming off a 3-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos Tuesday night. Jack Cowell scored the game winning goal midway through the second period. This is game two of a three game home stand, which has the team hosting Brandon next Saturday. A six game road trip awaits them November 9th with dates in Seattle, Portland (doubleheader), Prince George, Red Deer and Edmonton. 

Foote in the door: Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith. Foote earned his first WHL coaching victory that night in the Rockets 3-2 win. Foote played 1,154 games in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Quebec Nordiques. Foote is also a two time Stanley Cup champion. 

Broadcasters Notebook: Kyle Topping is riding a 9 game point streak. Topping has 4+10=14 over that period….Forward Nolan Foote has been named to Team WHL, who will host two games when the Russian Selects face the WHL in the 2018 CIBC Canada/Russia series. Games will be played in Kamloops November 5th and in Vancouver November 6th ….Nolan Foote has 6 goals in 6 games….Rookie Dillon Wilton has goals in three of his last six games……The Rockets have 929 wins as a franchise since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the 1995-96 season ….Five members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s “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, Kyle Topping and Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospect, which means they could be taken in the third to the seventh round…. The Rockets have failed to open the scoring in 10 of the 15 games this season….The Rockets have trailed going onto the third period in 10 of the  games 15 games….Connor Bruggen-Cate has points in 5 of his last 7 games (2+5=7)…Kaedan Korczak has points in 5 of his last 6 games (2+5=7).

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. Kushniryk was pointless in four games this season. 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 Farrin October 11th from the Saskatoon Blades for a third round WHL bantam pick. The Rockets also made a trade with the Victoria Royals Saturday September 29th. The team acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick.

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: 21 vs. Vancouver October 3rd, 2018 (5-0 L)
Most shots allowed: 39 @ Prince George September 29th, 2018 (5-2 W)
Fewest shots allowed: 20 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Last time shut out: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 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) – 4   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) - 10 Farrin, 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, October 24, 2018

Foote takes first step as head coach

Adam Foote - Shoot the Breeze

  • Adam Foote doesn't want it to be about him. That said, it was all about him Tuesday night when he stood behind the bench as the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets. The 47 year-old was the focal point as he earned his first WHL victory as a coach with a 3-2 win over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. It was a soft launch for the likable Foote, who's team won for the first time on home ice this season against a Broncos squad that closed out an 8 game road trip with their 12th loss. Foote knows there are tougher days ahead. Foote took over from Jason Smith Tuesday morning and is not fooling himself into thinking he can change the teams fortunes around in a heartbeat. Foote appears to be a hands on coach though, despite having any such experience at the major junior level.  Verbally strong, Foote isn't scared to instruct in order to make his team better. "I love learning myself. I am reaching out to others for help at this level. It won't be easy. I am keeping an open mind. These players have to be comfortable with coming into my coaching room and talking. I don't want my players to feel shame for the mistakes they make. We will go to the chalkboard and figure it out. If we can develop properly, I believe some wins will come with it".  
  •  The Rockets victory Tuesday night came courtesy of a quick start off the stick of 20 year-old Lane Zablocki. Scoring his first as a Rocket less than 5 minutes into the game set the table for the teams only home ice win in 7 attempts. Of the five wins this season, its been the result of the Rockets finding the back of the net first. Zablocki now has 1+2=3 in two games since coming back from injury.
  • Goaltender Joel Hofer held the Broncos in the game early, making 20 of 21 saves in the opening period. Had the St. Louis Blues draft pick been off, his team would have been in a heap of trouble. That said, after a sluggish opening 20 minutes, my take is the Broncos were equal or slightly better than the home team. With just one win this season, the visitors could have buried their head in the sand and started the bus early for a long ride back to the prairies. Instead, Dean Brockman's crew was a handful in the clash of two teams that are sitting in the depths of the WHL standings. Swift Current will take its lumps this season. They will improve but they will lose a boat load of games. Fans there must remember that the WHL championship last season was sooooooooo worth it. 
  • Two of the Rockets three goals last night were the result of rebound chances. Sounds simple doesn't it? Crash the net for secondary chances and you will likely be rewarded. Sadly, it rarely happens. Jack Cowell's game winning goal came exactly that way. An innocent shot from Kaedan Korczak from just inside the blue line is kicked out by Hofer.  Cowell drills home the rebound through the legs of the startled goaltender and its 3-2. 
  • I thought James Porter Junior had a strong game. Starting for the first time in 8 games, Porter was sharp with several solid stops including robbing Broncos leading scorer Alec Zawatsky in the second period and making a nice glove hand save on Matthew Culling on a power play in the late stages of the third. Rebound control seems to still plague Porter resulting in glorious secondary chances for the oppositions shooters. It is a work in progress. 
  • The penalty killing unit came up big in the late stages of the game. Holding a 3-2 lead, Jack Cowell was fingered to the penalty box after receiving a double minor for high sticking. With the Broncos pressing, Porter was solid and the PK unit paid the price in keeping the Broncos off the board. The penalty killing unit has not allowed a power play goal against in four games!
  • Controversy in this one. The Broncos had a goal disallowed in the second period when Andrew Fyten's wraparound chance glanced off Rockets d-man Lassi Thomson and into the net. The goal was waved off after it was determined goaltender James Porter Junior was interfered with by Broncos forward Max Patterson. While no penalty was called on Patterson, the goal was disallowed as the goalie was 'unable to reset'. I am honestly not sure what that means? Video replay showed it was a clean goal, at least in my eyes. 
  • The game featured what looked like a tired Rockets team both physically and mentally. It was the end of four games in five nights and the past 48 hours had the head coach relieved of his duties and a new coach brought in to guide the team. At the major junior level, specifically, that is a lot to digest only a month into the season.
  • Nolan Foote was among the scratches for the Rockets. Foote was hurt Saturday in Victoria after receiving a high stick. The about to turn 18 year-old is listed as day-to-day on the WHL injury report and will likely suit up when the team hosts Prince George on Saturday.   

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rockets/Broncos preview


Game Day Preview: A rare Tuesday night game at Prospera Place against the defending WHL champion Swift Current Broncos. Two of the top teams in the WHL last season, they have combined for just 5 wins in 26 games in 2018-2019. The Rockets are 4-10-0-0 while the Broncos are dead last in the 22 team circuit at 1-11-0-0. This is the lone meeting of the season between these two teams. The Rockets are coming off a highly successful weekend where they won two of three games with back-to-back wins over Victoria (8-2 and 5-1) before losing Sunday in Vancouver by a score of 3-1. Kyle Topping scored the lone goal in the setback, snapping a modest two game winning streak. This is game one of a three game home stand, which has the team hosting Prince George Saturday and Brandon November 3rd.  For those not keeping count, the Rockets have lost all 6 home games this season.

Gator Gone: The Kelowna Rockets announced on Monday that they have relieved head coach Jason Smith of his duties. Smith was hired in the summer of 2016 to replace Brad Ralph, who mutually parted ways with the team. Smith led the Rockets to back-to-back 40+ wins seasons, but was unable to earn a playoff victory in a four game sweep against the Tri City Americans in last season’s playoffs. No successor was named at the time of Smith’s departure, but the team was scheduled to have that new face behind the bench for tonight’s game against the Broncos. The new coach will be the teams 4th in the last 5 seasons.

Broadcasters Notebook: Kyle Topping is riding an 8 game point streak. Topping has 3+10=13 over that period….Forward Nolan Foote has been named to Team WHL, who will host two games when the Russian Selects face the WHL in the 2018 CIBC Canada/Russia series. Games will be played in Kamloops November 5th and in Vancouver November 6th ….Nolan Foote has 6 goals in 6 games….Rookie Dillon Wilton has goals in three of his last five games……The Rockets have 928 wins as a franchise since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the 1995-96 season ….Five members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s “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, Kyle Topping and Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospect, which means they could be taken in the third to the seventh round…. The Rockets have failed to open the scoring in 10 of the 14 games this season….The Rockets have trailed going onto the third period in 10 of the 14 games….Erik Gardiner has 12 career goals. Of those 12, ten have come against teams in the BC Division.

Trade Winds: The Rockets traded 18 year-old Wil Kushniryk to the Tri City Americans on Monday for a 5th round bantam pick. Kushniryk was pointless in four games this season. 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 Farrin October 11th from the Saskatoon Blades for a third round WHL bantam pick. The Rockets also made a trade with the Victoria Royals Saturday September 29th. The team acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick.

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), 40 vs. Kamloops September 22nd, 2018 (3-1 L)
Fewest shots on net: 21 vs. Vancouver October 3rd, 2018 (5-0 L)
Most shots allowed: 39 @ Prince George September 29th, 2018 (5-2 W)
Fewest shots allowed: 20 @ Victoria October 19, 2018 (8-2 W)
Last time shut out: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 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) – 4   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) - 10 Farrin, 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, October 22, 2018

Smith relieved of duties

Jason Smith
Kelowna Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton has announced that the Rockets have released head coach Jason Smith of his duties as of Monday Oct. 22, 2018.

“Any time you let someone go that is the quality of Jason Smith it’s very tough, however the success of our hockey club ultimately falls with myself and I feel at this time we need to go in a different direction. Jason is just a wonderful person and we want to thank him for his time here,” said Hamilton.

Smith was hired by the Rockets in the summer of 2016 and completed two full years as head coach. In 2016-17 the team had a 45-22-5-0 record while last season saw the Rockets go 43-22-5-2.

This year the club is off to a 4-10-0-0 start. 
The next hire will be the fourth head coach in the last six seasons.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Rockets roll'n on the road


  • Excuses. Every Western Hockey League team has them. Travel. Injuries. No club is exempt from using an excuse when they fail to win a game. It is those that are able to deal with adversity, no matter in what form it comes, that are often destined for greatness. The Victoria Royals could have used the excuse last night that marquee goaltender Griffin Outhouse wasn't available and it was the main reason why they suffered a 8-2 loss at the hands of the visiting Kelowna Rockets. The Royals, who are off to a tremendous start this season with 8 wins in 10 games, were forced to send 16 year-old Brock Gould between the pipes against one of the lowest scoring teams in the Western Conference. Liam Kindree and Lassi Thomson each had four point games while the power play, which has resurrected from the dead, was a lethal force scoring on 4 of 6 chances. It was only the third win of the season for the Rockets, who also received goals from Nolan Foote (2), Erik Gardiner and Kaedan Korczak. All three wins this season have been on the road with victories in Prince George and Tri City.
  • Let's call a spade a spade. Had Outhouse played, the season high 8 goal outburst likely wouldn't have been attained. But truthfully, the Rockets were the better team in several facets Friday night including a penalty killing unit which went 6 for 6. Heading into the weekend, the Royals owned the fourth best power play unit in the WHL. The Rockets had the second worst penalty killing unit. In Friday's game, it looked like the roles were reversed. 
  • While the Royals weren't using the excuse that their top  player, Griffen Outhouse, wasn't in the lineup, the Rockets haven't played the excuse card either in the opening 11 games of the season. For those not paying attention, last night's win in Victoria was the first time this season the Rockets were able to dress three 20 year-old's. Lane Zablocki made his debut and made an immediate impact. Playing in a game for the first time since suiting up for the Royals against the Tri City Americans in the second round of last years playoffs, the overage forward was clearly noticeable. While sucking wind and pacing himself at times, Zablocki looked like the real deal. The Wetaskawin resident was involved physically, was being a thorn in the side of anyone wearing blue and talking the talk and walking the walk . I loved it. Zablocki earned an assist on a power play goal from Lassi Thomson and then picked up a helper on Kaedan Korczak's shot from the blue-line. A two point effort is all fine and good but his presence alone on the bench and on the ice can not be understated. 
  • I thought Kaedan Korczak was very good last night. Take away his goal if you want, his play in the defensive own zone was the best I've seen from him wearing Kelowna Rockets colours. Korczak was smart in his ability to defend by angling off opposing forwards and looking every bit a first round pick in next June's NHL draft. For Korczak to be considered a top 31 selection, he must bring that solid play to the ice more consistently. 
  • It may have been Nolan Foote's best game of the season. The about to turn 18 year-old made a wonderful play for his second goal of the game and showed off his quick release which would have been a handful even had Outhouse been in net. Foote now has 4 goals in 4 games. Foote is tied with Lassi Thomson with 6 goals, only two shy of team leader Leif Mattson who has 8.
  • Kyle Topping isn't scoring many goals this season despite being third on the team in shots on goal. Failing to generate a shot on goal last night, the 19 year-old was able to collect two assists and is now riding a season high 6 game point streak. Often overlooked, Topping has been solid at the face-off circle winning 17 of 24 draws in last nights win.   
  • Leif Mattson deserves much credit for getting into a tilt with Royals forward Dino Kambeitz. The Rockets leading scorer does not fight. Ok, now he does. The 19 year-old did quite well. With 91 career points, the 100 point milestone isn't that far away. Had Mattson scored on a first period penalty shot, the Gordie Howe Hat trick would have been a reality.
  • Roman Basran appears to have solidified the number one goaltending duties. The 17 year-old has started five straight games and six of the last seven. 
  • I had a chance to watch the post game video of Royals head coach Dan Price answering questions from what appears to be local reporters. The questioning is odd at best. Asking the coach about a rumour of veteran players been traded? Is that even a question for a coach after an 8-2 loss? Bad, bad timing and that is clearly not his department. That is clearly a question for GM Cam Hope. Suggesting that the Royals took the Rockets lightly? Was the reporter even watching the game? Price handled himself well considering the line of questioning. 
  • The two teams are back at it tonight in the rematch. The Rockets have failed to win back-to-back games since winning five in a row to close out the 2017-2018 season. We are on the air at 6 pm with 'The Kelowna Rockets This Week' where we hook up with former captain Tyler Spurgeon, who is playing hockey in Austria. I should also mention that we will have election coverage for you on AM 1150 during both intermissions and on our post game show. It is big day as Mayors and Councillors will be elected into office.                         

Friday, October 19, 2018

Rockets/Royals ready to rumble


Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Victoria Royals for the second time this season. These two teams met October 5th in Kelowna with the Royals earning a 4-3 win. The Royals built up a 4-1 lead only to see the Rockets rally with two-third period goals. The Rockets were 1-2-0-1 in four games in Victoria last season. The Rockets make a return visit February 18th and 19th. The Rockets are coming off a 5-4 home ice loss Saturday night to the visiting Tri City Americans. That is now 6 straight losses at Prospera Place this season. This weekend the team plays in Victoria tonight and tomorrow before facing the Vancouver Giants on Sunday. The Rockets return home to face the Swift Current Broncos on Tuesday.

Broadcasters Notebook: Head Coach Jason Smith has joined the WHL coaching staff for two games when the Russian Selects face the WHL in the 2018 CIBC Canada/Russia series. Games will be played in Kamloops November 5th and in Vancouver November 6th….The Rockets have parted way with 20 year-old forward Ryan Bowen. Bowen was pointless in 7 games this season….Jack Cowell’s goal Saturday night was his first in 37 games….Rookie Dillon Wilton has goals in back-to-back games…The Rockets have 926 wins as a franchise since relocating from Tacoma to Kelowna for the 1995-96 season…We’ve got the Cup! The Rockets were awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup on Wednesday. The ten day tournament will take place May 22nd to 31st. It marks the second time in franchise history the team has hosted (2004) and will mark its 6th appearance at the prestigious event. The team has made previous appearances in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2015….Five members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s “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, Kyle Topping and Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospect, which means they could be taken in the third to the seventh round…. The Rockets have failed to open the scoring in 9 of the 11 games this season….The Rockets have trailed going onto the third period in 9 of the 11 games.

Let’s Make a Deal: The Rockets have been busy. The team acquired 20 year-old defenceman Dalton Galley October 10, 2018 from the Medicine Hat Tigers for a 10th round bantam pick. Gally has played two full seasons with the Tigers and hails from Eagle River, Alaska. In a separate deal, the hockey club acquired 18 year-old forward Michael Farrin October 11th from the Saskatoon Blades for a third round WHL bantam pick. The Rockets also made a trade with the Victoria Royals Saturday September 29th. The team acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick. Zablocki is a third round NHL draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings (2017 – unsigned).

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 6 vs. Seattle October 10/18 (9-6 L)
Most goals allowed: 9 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L), 40 vs. Kamloops September 22nd, 2018 (3-1 L)
Fewest shots on net: 21 vs. Vancouver October 3rd, 2018 (5-0 L)
Most shots allowed: 39 @ Prince George September 29th, 2018 (5-2 W)
Fewest shots allowed: 23 vs. Victoria October 5, 2018 (4-3 L)
Last time shut out: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 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: 2 vs. Seattle October 10, 2018 (9-6 L)

Roster Stats:
Player total: 25
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 4   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) - 10 Farrin, Thomson, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Kushniryk, 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, October 15, 2018

Improvements made despite ugly record

    Rookie Dallon Wilton celebrates - Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Wins are going to be extremely hard to come by for the Kelowna Rockets this season. Using the baseball analogy, no opponent is an easy out. Late game rallies will be few and far between and maximum effort will be needed for a hard earned 'W'. That is perfectly clear after splitting a pair of games against the Tri City Americans on the weekend. The line between winning and losing is very, very thin. The team earned a 3-2 victory Friday night before losing again on home ice less than 24 hours later in a 5-4 setback. Now with a 2-9-0-0 record after 11 games, the team will go up a weight class when they embark on a three game road trip against two teams in the BC Division that have a combined record of 15-2-1-0. The Victoria Royals welcome the Rockets Friday and Saturday before the team rolls into Vancouver Sunday afternoon for a 4 pm start.
  • Friday's win was a big one for the hockey club, who were facing the pressure riding a four game losing streak. The anxiety level was alleviated somewhat with the knowledge the team had made two trades with the acquisition of 20 year-old d-man Dalton Gally and 18 year-old forward Michael Farron. But that also puts stress on bubble players who are having a hard time getting into the line up...or at least it should. With the roster now at 26 players, someone is heading home.
  • A quick thought on Dalton Gally's play on the weekend. While expendable by the Medicine Hat Tigers, the big bodied d-man is an upgrade following his move to the Okanagan. Gally has a certain aura about him. I can't pinpoint it yet, but he sure came into the dressing room with positive energy. You can see it in his eyes. Gally loves the game and during my first interview with him, you could sense he is excited to be playing at the WHL level and will not take it for granted. Again, I know nothing of the dressing room dynamics, but he screams of leadership qualities that you want in a captain. Again, I am blind of how his teammates are accepting him, and it may be wrong to give a player the captaincy when he is claimed in a trade, but I see something there. I could be dead wrong here. Let's move on.
  • Michael Farron made his debut Saturday night and it is too early to judge what the 18 year-old brings to the table. I hear a skilled forward who can create scoring chances for himself and his line mates, but it was really hard to get a good read in his debut. Check back with me after these next three games and I will have a better understanding if he can indeed make an impact.Truthfully, the Rockets needed an upgrade in the 18 year-old age group, so acquiring Farren can't but be a good thing.   
  • Rookie Dallon Wilton had a nice weekend. The big bodied forward scored his first career WHL goal Friday in Kennewick and then from almost the exact same scoring area, did it again, but this time in front of the home town crowd. Just like that, Wilton is tied for 4th in team goal scoring, behind Kyle Topping's three goals, Lassi Thomson and Nolan Foote's four goals and team leader Leif Mattson who has eight. 
  • With the team losing 9 of its opening 11 games, negative energy, if their is such a thing, is everywhere. It is tough to take positives out of losses, especially if its happening over and over and over. But the team is making progress in several areas despite sitting dead last in the Western Conference. In the last five games the team has scored 17 goals. In the opening 6 games, by comparison, the team found the back of the net 11 times. That equates to 3.4 goals per game compared to 1.8. That's a big difference. It should come as no surprise that the power play has improved too. In the opening 6 games it was running at a measly 4%. Yes, 4%. It was best to decline the penalty at that point. Now though, after the last five games, the five man unit is clicking along at 29%, which is clearly a game changer and a threat to score every time its out on the ice. The negative? The team is still surrendered too many goals against and the penalty killing unit, while essentially winning the game Friday in Tri City by coming up huge, is taking it on the chin with a league leading 18 goals against.
  • It was nice to see Kaedan Korczak find the back of the net Saturday night. With 8 points in 11 games, the defenceman is now halfway to the 16 points he put up in his rookie season. Sadly, while Korczak was generating offense, rookie blue liner Lassi Thomson was very quiet on the weekend with only 4 shots on goal over the two games against the Americans and no points to show for it. Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr was in the building Saturday for a look at the Rockets draft eligible players, and despite a one game viewing, Marr likely didn't come away overly impressed with any of them. It's not the end of the world, but it would have been nice to see all of them make a significant impact on the game. Sure, Nolan Foote scored a goal while Korczak chipped in with his first of the season, but I've seen the entire group play significantly better that what Marr witnessed in the 5-4 Rockets loss.  
  • The Ethan Ernst, Dallon Wilton and Kyle Crosby line is starting to grow on me. Having essentially played together for no less than the last three games, they are providing some valuable minutes for the hockey club. I would like to see Ernst score just to give him a boost of confidence. Not like it appears to be getting to him, it would just be nice to see a player who generates points at the midget level be rewarded at this level. Ernst does have three assists this season in limited minutes, so I hope he understands that he is contributing to the good of the team and isn't a liability on the ice. 
  • I hate to say the Americans are a one line team, but clearly three forwards on its roster are making a dramatic difference. When Nolan Yaremnko, Isaac Johnson and Kyle Olson were on the ice, specifically in the rematch Saturday night at Prospera Place, they totally dominated. Those three owned the puck and the Rockets were often hemmed inside their own zone for a significant amount of time. Unfortunately, the Rockets just don't have that type of unit that can dictate the play.      
  • It is hard to come to grips with the team losing its opening six home games of the season. Prospera Place used to be a grave yard for visiting teams. The team has never lost 6 straight at home to start the season. NEVER. The only time where the Rockets went 6 straight games without a win on home ice was in the 1999-2000 season when it was 0-5 with one tie (Yes, games ended in ties back then). Several times the team has lost 5 in a row, but losing six straight is now a new, ugly, benchmark for futility on home ice. 
  • To put the home ice losses into context, the team suffered only 7 home ice losses last season.
  • Congratulations to former Kelowna Rockets d-man Duncan Keith for hitting the 1,000 games played milestone in the NHL Saturday night. Keith played parts of one season with the Rockets in 2002-2003, leading the hockey club to its first WHL championship. The only other Rockets alumni to reach a thousand games at the NHL level is? The answer - Scott Hannan (1,055).  Shea Weber is closing in on the milestone with 867 games played.   

Friday, October 12, 2018

Rockets d-man makes debut down south.

Dalton Galley makes debut 

Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Tri City Americans for the first time this season and for the first time since the 2018 playoffs. The Americans beat the Rockets in the opening round in four games. These two teams meet tomorrow night in the rematch at Prospera Place. The Rockets are coming off a 9-6 loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds Wednesday night. Leif Mattson had 2+2=4 and Kyle Topping had 0+4=4 in the teams’ fourth straight loss. The Rockets enter the game with a record of 1 and 8, which is the slowest start in franchise history. Next weekend the Rockets are in Victoria for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday before playing their third game in three nights Sunday October 21st in Vancouver. 

Let’s Make a Deal: The Rockets made two trades this week. The team acquired 20 year-old defenceman Dalton Galley (October 10, 2018) from the Medicine Hat Tigers for a 10th round bantam pick. Gally has played two full seasons with the Tigers and hails from Eagle River, Alaska. In a separate deal, the hockey club acquired 18 year-old forward Michael Farrin (October 11th) from the Saskatoon Blades for a third round WHL bantam pick. Farrin, from Richmond, BC, has played 133 WHL regular season games and had five points in 8 games this season before requesting a trade. 

Trade Winds Blow: The Rockets made a trade with the Victoria Royals Saturday September 29th. The team acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick. Zablocki is a third round NHL draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings (2017 – unsigned). In the 2016-2017 campaign, Zablocki scored 28 goals split between the Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels. Zablocki has played with the Pats, Rebels, Hurricanes and the Royals.  Zablocki never played a game with the WHL team that drafted him in 2013 – the Prince George Cougars. 

Broadcasters Notebook: We’ve got the Cup! The Rockets were awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup on Wednesday. The ten day tournament will take place May 22nd to 31st. It marks the second time in franchise history the team has hosted (2004) and will mark its 6th appearance at the prestigious event. The team has made previous appearances in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2015….Five members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s “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, Kyle Topping and Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospect, which means they could be taken in the third to the seventh round…. The Rockets have failed to open the scoring in 8 of the 9 games this season….The Rockets have trailed going onto the third period in 8 of the 9 games.

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 6 vs. Seattle October 10/18 (9-6 L)
Most goals allowed: 9 vs. Seattle October 10th, 2018 (9-6 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L), 40 vs. Kamloops September 22nd, 2018 (3-1 L)
Fewest shots on net: 21 vs. Vancouver October 3rd, 2018 (5-0 L)
Most shots allowed: 39 @ Prince George September 29th, 2018 (5-2 W)
Fewest shots allowed: 23 vs. Victoria October 5, 2018 (4-3 L)
Last time shut out: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 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: 2 vs. Seattle October 10, 2018 (9-6 L)

Roster Stats:
Player total: 26
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 4   Gally, Zablocki, Chizen, Bowen
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) - 10 Farrin, Thomson, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Kushniryk, 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, October 10, 2018

Rockets vs.T-Birds


Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Seattle Thunderbirds for the second time in the last five days. These two teams squared off Saturday in Kent with the T-Birds earning a 4-1 win. Kyle Topping scored the lone goal in the Rockets third straight loss. Seattle scored three of its four goals on the power play. Liam Hughes was solid in goal with 44 saves. The Rockets enter the game with a record of 1 and 7, which is the slowest start in franchise history. The 2006-2007 team had a win and a shootout loss in its opening 8 games. The Rockets are in Kennewick, Washington to face the Americans Friday before hosting them Saturday night at Prospera Place. Next weekend the Rockets are in Victoria for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday before playing their third game in three nights Sunday October 21st in Vancouver. 

Trade Winds Blow: The Rockets made a trade with the Victoria Royals Saturday September 29th. The team acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick. Zablocki is a third round NHL draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings (2017 – unsigned). In the 2016-2017 campaign, Zablocki scored 28 goals split between the Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels. Zablocki has played with the Pats, Rebels, Hurricanes and the Royals.  Zablocki never played a game with the WHL team that drafted him in 2013 – the Prince George Cougars. 

Broadcasters Notebook: Ryan Bowen plays in his 150th career WHL game tonight against Seattle….We’ve got the Cup! The Rockets were awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup on Wednesday. The ten day tournament will take place May 22nd to 31st. It marks the second time in franchise history the team has hosted (2004) and will mark its 6th appearance at the prestigious event. The team has made previous appearances in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2015….Five members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s “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, Kyle Topping and Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospect, which means they could be taken in the third to the seventh round…. The Rockets have failed to open the scoring in 7 of the 8 games this season….The Rockets have trailed going onto the third period in 7 of the 8 games….Head Coach Jason Smith returns for his third season at the helm. Both assistant Kris Mallette and Travis Crickard enter their 5th seasons in the WHL….The Rockets are in their 24th season in the Okanagan after relocating from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-1996 season…The Rockets have made the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons…The team has averaged 104 points in the last 6 seasons including a franchise high 118 in the 2013-2014 campaign when the hockey club lost only 11 times.

Season Highs/Lows:
Most goals scored: 5 @ Prince George September 29th, 2018 (5-2 W)
Most goals allowed: 5 vs. Giants October 3rd, 2018 (5-0 L)
Most shots on net: 45 @ Seattle October 6th, 2018 (4-1 L), 40 vs. Kamloops September 22nd, 2018 (3-1 L)
Fewest shots on net: 21 vs. Vancouver October 3rd, 2018 (5-0 L)
Most shots allowed: 39 @ Prince George September 29th, 2018 (5-2 W)
Fewest shots allowed: 23 vs. Victoria October 5, 2018 (4-3 L)
Last time shut out: October 3rd, 2018 vs. Vancouver (5-0 L)  
Most power play goals allowed: 3 @ Seattle October 6, 2018 (4-1 L), 3 vs. Vancouver October 3, 2018 (5-0 L).

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 3   Zablocki, Chizen, Bowen           
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) - 10 Tomson, Brennan, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Kushniryk, 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, October 7, 2018

Slowest start in franchise history


  • It's official. The 2018-2019 campaign will go down as the worst start to the season in Kelowna Rockets franchise history. A 4-1 loss in Seattle last night dropped the teams record to 1-7-0-0 after 8 games. That mark is worse than the 2006-2007 start, when the team had a win and a shootout loss (1-6-0-1) in their opening eight games. That season the team missed the playoffs for the only time in franchise history. While this years squad is close to breaking out of an early season slide, several areas continue to plague the hockey club as they sit dead last in the Western Conference with only two points of an available 16. It could be worse though. Last season, the rival Kamloops Blazers lost 9 in a row to start the season before finally feeling the thrill of victory after experiencing the agony of defeat. That slow start was costly though, as the Blazers missed the playoffs in 2017-2018 despite playing better hockey and managing 30 victories. 
  • The real concern for the Rockets is the inability to score. With just 15 goals after 8 games, you just can't win when you are averaging a measly 1.9 goals per game. Sure, the team is also surrendering 3.63 goals per game against, but even being down two goals seems like a massive mountain to climb. 
  • If you throw out Leif Mattson's offensive production (6 goals in 8 games), the 20 and 19 year-old age group has just three goals in the opening eight games. Kyle Topping has two goals while Connor Bruggen-Cate has one. Overagers Ryan Bowen and Braydyn Chizen haven't found the back of the net yet and Erik Gardiner and Jack Cowell haven't scored among the 19 year-old's. Gardiner and Cowell have a single assist between them. 
  • When you aren't scoring, the power play takes a big hit. The team has three power play goals this season with Lassi Thomsom, Leif Mattson and Kyle Topping finding pay dirt. 
  • Looking like a bright spot early in the season, the penalty killing unit has taken a real hit the last three games. The team has surrendered a whopping 8 goals in its last 16 kills. The Vancouver Giants scored twice on five chances Wednesday, before Victoria fired home three goals with the extra man in a 4-3 loss Friday. In Saturday's loss in Seattle, the T-Birds scored three man advantage markers in only four chances. 
  • By comparison, the team was 4-2-1-1 after 8 games last season. In those opening 8 games, the team scored 35 goals, which is 20 more than this season. Those 20 goals would go a long way in improving the teams current record, considering four of the 7 losses this season have been by two goals or less.  
  • Positives? In Saturday's 4-1 loss to the T-Birds, the Rockets showed grit and determination. In a game that featured emotion and animosity, the visitors did not cower when the game got chippy. Several times the Rockets pushed back as much as the T-Birds did. In one altercation in the third period after forward Nolan Foote crashed the T-Birds net and made contract with goaltender Liam Hughes, several players got involved in a semi line brawl, which at the end of the day only turned into one real fight when Mark Liwiski tangled with T-Birds defenceman Jake Lee. Hey, it could have gotten worse when Hughes started roughing up Nolan Foote as tempers started to flare. Rockets goaltender Roman Basran skated the distance of the ice to engage with Hughes before the linesman stepped in before a donniebrook between the goalies would break out.     
  • The last goalie fight I witnessed was Jake Morrissey tangling with Nik Amundrud in 2014 when the Kelowna Rockets played host to the Saskatoon Blades.
  • The Rockets are playing better hockey than what we witnessed in the opening five games. I would say the work ethic has increased significantly and the desire to battle to loose pucks for secondary chances on net is also greater. Sadly, despite the increase in overall effort, it isn’t translating into wins right now. It seems to come with the territory.  
  • When it rains it pours. In the last three games, the team has surrendered a goal in the opening minutes. Against Vancouver (5-0 loss), the Giants scored 3:32 into the game. In a loss to the Victoria Royals (4-3 loss), the Royals scored 1:26 into the opening face-off. Last night in Seattle, the T-Birds struck just :46 seconds into the game. For a team that struggles scoring and likely has a thin layer of confidence, surrendering early goals is a back breaker. It would honestly be nice to see the team skate to a scoreless tie after the opening period, or heck open the scoring like they did against Prince George for their only win of the young season. 
  • Liam Kindree impressed me on the weekend. Returning to the lineup after missing the opening 6 games, the 18 year-old had a goal and an assist. In on two of the four goals the team scored, Kindree clearly has above average offensive instincts and his play making and ability to distribute the puck makes the power play significantly better. With the addition of 20 year-old Lane Zablocki, I can't see how the team can't be at least one goal better than they are right now.
  • The Rockets schedule has the team playing four straight games against US Division opponents, including dates with Seattle (Wednesday) and a home and home series with the Tri City Americans (Friday/Saturday).      
  • While the team is off to its slowest start ever, how impressive would it be to still make the playoffs regardless? That my friends would make it a memorable season, but for all the right reasons. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Rockets and Royals battle



Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets face the Victoria Royals for the first time this season. The Rockets enter the game with a record of 1 and 5, which is one of the slowest starts in franchise history. The 2006-2007 team had a win and a shootout loss in its first 8 games. The Rockets are coming off a 5-0 shutout loss Wednesday to the Vancouver Giants, which marks the first time since October 9, 2015 when they were held off the scoresheet, at home, to the visiting Victoria Royals. Last season, the Rockets were 4-3-1-0 in the seasonal series against the Royals, with five of the eight being decided by two goals or less. Over the years, no one team has shown dominance over the other. The Rockets are 18-12-2-0 in the last 32 meetings against their BC Division cousins. After tonight’s game the Rockets are in Seattle (Kent) tomorrow night for an early 6 pm start before welcoming the T-Birds to Prospera Place next Wednesday.

Digg’n Deeper: Kole Lind was the team’s leading point producer last season vs. the Royals with 5+8=13 while Dillon Dube had 6+6=12. Leif Mattson had 4 goals in seven games. James Porter played in five games, sporting a record of 2-0-1-0 with a goals against average of 4.11

Trade Winds Blow: The Rockets made a trade with the Victoria Royals Saturday September 29th. The team acquired 20 year-old Lane Zablocki for a conditional 7th round and conditional 4th round bantam draft pick. Zablocki is a third round NHL draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings (2017 – unsigned). In the 2016-2017 campaign, Zablocki scored 28 goals split between the Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels. Zablocki has played with the Pats, Rebels, Hurricanes and the Royals.  Zablocki never played a game with the WHL team that drafted him in 2013 – the Prince George Cougars. 

Broadcasters Notebook: We’ve got the Cup! The Rockets were awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup on Wednesday. The ten day tournament will take place May 22nd to 31st. It marks the second time in franchise history the team has hosted (2004) and will mark its 6th appearance at the prestigious event. The team has made previous appearances in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2015….Happy Birthday to rookie d-man Cayde Augustine who turns 17 today…The Royals and Rockets meet up in Victoria October 19th and 20th….Five members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scoutings “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, Kyle Topping and Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospect, which means they could be taken in the third to the seventh round…. The Rockets have not opened the scoring in 5 of the 6 games this season….The Rockets have trailed going onto the third period in 5 of the 6 games…Rookie Ethan Ernst earned his first career WHL point last Friday in Prince George with an assist, on Connor Bruggen-Cate’s third period goal….Head Coach Jason Smith returns for his third season at the helm. Both assistant Kris Mallette and Travis Crickard enter their 5th seasons in the WHL….The Rockets are in their 24th season in the Okanagan after relocating from Tacoma for the start of the 1995-1996 season…The Rockets have made the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons…The team has averaged 104 points in the last 6 seasons including a franchise high 118 in the 2013-2014 campaign when the hockey club lost only 11 times.

New Faces: The team welcomes three rookies back on the defensive core. Listed player Devin Steffler is joined by Finnish born blueliner Lassi Thomson. Joining those two is 17 year-old Cayde Augustine (turns 17 October 5th). Up front, the team has added 16 year-old Ethan Ernst (3rd round pick in 2017), 17 year-old Kyle Crosbie (8th round pick in 2016),and acquired 20 year-old Ryan Bowen via trade with the Lethbridge Hurricanes last season. The team also obtained the playing rights to Mark Liwiski, a third round bantam pick of the Silvertips from 2016….Lane Zablocki was acquired in a trade with Victoria in late September.  

Roster Stats:
Player total: 24
Year by Year Breakdown:
20’s (1998) – 2   Zablocki, Chizen, Bowen           
19’s (1999) - 5   Topping, Mattson, Gardiner, Bruggen-Cate, Cowell
18’s (2000) - 10 Tomson, Brennan, Porter, Foote, Zabransky, Kindree, Brennan, Kushniryk, 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