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.
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