Sunday, January 20, 2019

Beating the big dogs

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • What a difference a week makes! After two disappointing, head scratching, lethargic losses in Prince George last weekend, coupled with a less than impressive effort at home against the Moose Jaw Warriors Wednesday, things looked extremely bleak as the Kelowna Rockets faced the top two teams in the WHL. What made matters worse was the Rockets confidence level was as low as its been after earning one win in its opening 9 games of the regular season. Let's don't forget the team was also riding a 6 game losing streak heading into Everett, a place where only four teams (Tri City (twice) Vancouver/Portland) had beaten the Western Conference leaders. But something magical happened Thursday. Between a 5-1 home ice loss to the Warriors and Friday night's puck drop at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, something clicked. Was it GM Bruce Hamilton's presence on the team bus for the first time this season for the trip down south that had everyone focused? Was it a team dinner Thursday night in Everett where an innocent looking pre-meal game seemed to galvanized the team together? Was it newly acquired d-man Matt Barberis' presence and the prospect of the about to turn 21 year-old making his debut with his new team? Whatever it was, the Rockets took a 180 degree turn for the better with an inspired 2-0 shutout win over the Tips Friday night and followed that up with an equally impressive 4-3 home ice shootout victory against the CHL's top ranked Prince Albert Raiders a night later. Some could suggest Friday's game was luck. But claiming such a thing is ridiculous when the team came out 24 hours later and prove its point again against the highest scoring team in the WHL. Neither win was a fluke to be honest. This wasn't a case of the opposition taking the floundering Rockets lightly. This was about a team, struggling to keep in the hunt for a playoff spot, finally playing for one another, with three key ingredients which included pace, urgency and enthusiasm.
  • What I liked most in both wins was the fact the Rockets weren't a one trick pony. They needed everyone to step up. The fourth line had to contribute. Ted Brennan turned into a bull and Liam Kindree was blocking shots. James Porter and Roman Basran were the best players on the ice, but goaltenders are expected to elevate their play, specifically when the team is struggling. Those two can be game changers and they answered the bell with terrific performances. Porter delivered with a 40 save shutout Friday and Basran wouldn't be outdone with 31 saves Saturday and first star honours. Was it any coincidence that Michael Farren, locked in a 26 game goal scoring drought, scored the game winner Friday night? Secondary scoring from someone other than the last name of Foote, Mattson and Topping has been a talking point in the teams less than average record. All of that chatter was put to rest when Farren scored his first goal as a Kelowna Rocket and Mark Liwiski added an insurance marker against his former team. Then to parlay that victory into an unbelievable effort at home against the Raiders Saturday night, proves the belief, if it was lost, was found or in some cases maybe for the first time this season is was acquired. Regardless, it should serve the team well with just under two months left in the regular season. Better to be a team peaking late than early. With 25 games left before the playoffs, the third best team statistically in the BC Division now knows what it takes to win. Now its a matter of going out, following the footprint, and executing it consistently. 
  • The most encouraging sign in Saturday's win against the Raiders was the teams ability not to cower against the quickest team we've witnessed at Prospera Place this season. Sure, the Raiders opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game, but the Rockets didn't fold like a cheap tent. Earlier this season they likely would have, but instead of reeling, the Rockets began to roll with a Kyle Topping goal followed by the puck coming off the stick of Nolan Foote with maximum velocity, making even the crowd believing the home team had the same mojo they exhibited the night prior in Everett. What the team showed in the third period, down 3-2, with a late power play chance to tie the game was a sign of what real good teams tend to do. With the game on the line, Lassi Thomson's slapper, glove hand side on Raiders goalie Ian Scott, had the majority of the 5,204 fans in the building jumping from their seats and realizing the improbable could be possible. Nolan Foote scored the lone goal in the shootout and Basran, with a little help from his goal posts, lifted the team to its biggest victory of the season. Luck? Nope, I'm not buying it. Win one, possibly? Win two and it can only be suggested that its the start of something new.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Salmond faces former teammates

Ex-Rockets goalie Brodan Salmond with the Warriors

Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets meet the Moose Jaw Warriors for the one and only time this season. These two teams last season in Moose Jaw (December 12, 2017) with the Warriors earning a 6-3 win. The Rockets had a 3-1 lead heading into the third period before the Warriors scored five straight-third period goals in the win. The last time the Warriors were in Kelowna was January 18, 2017 in a 3-2 overtime victory. Brayden Burke scored the game winner at the 3:05 mark. Nick Merkley and Calvin Thurkauf scored in the setback. The Rockets are coming off back-to-back losses in Prince George on the weekend and were out-scored 11-2. The team lost 7-2 (Friday) and 4-0 (Saturday). Overall, the Rockets are winless in their last 5 games (0-4-1-0) and are 1-4-1-1 in seven games since the Christmas break. Following tonight’s game the team travels to Everett Friday before welcoming Marc Habscheid, Jeff Truitt and the Prince Albert Raiders Saturday. The Rockets are 13-11-3-1 in 28 games under head coach Adam Foote. 

Who’s Hot: Lassi Thomson has 2+6=8 points in his last 11 games…Nolan Foote has points in 10 of his last 15 games. Foote has 6+8=14 over that stretch...Leif Mattson has 10 goals in his last 18 games. The 19 year-old has registered at least one shot on goal in 39 of the teams 41 games this season. Kyle Topping has registered a point in 29 of the teams 41 games this season... The Rockets penalty killing unit is 39 for 46 in their last 10 road games…The Rockets have points in 10 of their last 11 home games (8-1-2-0).   

New Boys on Blue Line: The team acquired 20 year-old Shael Higson last Wednesday from the Brandon Wheat Kings for 20 year-old Braydyn Chizen and a 5th round bantam pick. The team then claimed 20 year-old defenceman Matt Barberis off waivers last Thursday from the Vancouver Giants. To make room for Barberis, the team released overage forward Lane Lablocki.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets open a stretch of playing five of their next 7 games on home ice…The Rockets are 4-7-0-0 in 11 games against a US Division team this season. Three of the four wins have come against Tri City with a single victory over Seattle…The team plays 9 more games against US Division rivals with four games against Spokane, two with Everett and Portland and a single against Seattle.….The Rockets have played 11-one goal games at home this season. Last year they played 15-one goal games at Prospera Place…The team has played in 8-one goal games on the road….The Rockets have six birthday’s in January which include Liam Kindree (Jan 2nd), Kris Mallette (Jan 19th – turns 40), Ethan Ernst and Dalton Gally (Jan 26th), Ted Brennan (Jan 28th) and Kaedan Korczak (January 29th)…The Rockets are sending a CHL high three players to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game next month in Red Deer. Nolan Foote (Team Cherry), Lassi Thomson/Kaedan Korczak (Team Orr) will attend the game of the top 40 prospects. The game will take place January 23rd…Since going 1-8-0-0 to start the season, the team is 16-13-3-1 in their last 33 games …Leif Mattson has 5-two goal games this season. Four of those five-two goal games have come on the road…The Rockets are 7-10-2-1 against BC Division teams this season…Five 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 and Alex Swetlikoff 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 5-10-1-0 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: 16 vs. Victoria December 7, 2018 (2-0 win)
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)
Last shutout at home: December 7, 2018 vs. Victoria (2-0 W - Roman Basran 16 saves)
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)
Overtime Games: @ Kamloops (3-2 Loss) December 28, 2018, vs. Saskatoon (5-4 Loss) December 1, 2018, @ Tri City Nov 30, 2018 (3-2 win), @ PG (4-3 Loss) November 14, 2018, vs. PG (4-3 win) October 27, 2018.   
Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Monday, January 14, 2019

Gorges retires

Former Kelowna Rockets Captain, Josh Gorges announced his retirement from professional hockey earlier this morning. The Kelowna Rockets would like to congratulate Gorges on a spectacular career that spanned over a decade.

During his WHL career, he suited up in 245 games over four seasons all with the Rockets, he scored 152 points (33G, 119A), racked up 212 penalty minutes. He helped the Rockets capture the 2003 Western Hockey League Championship and captained Kelowna to their 2004 Memorial Cup championship.

Kelowna Rockets Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel, Lorne Frey says the Rockets were fortunate to have had Gorges as a player.

"There was a rumour that Josh wanted to play college hockey," said Frey. "That's why he wasn't drafted into the WHL. I was then told that he actually wanted to play for us here in Kelowna, so I listed him that day. It was very good news for us, he was the Captain of the bantam team, and we knew he was a really good player. We brought him in as a 16-year-old, and he played forward and defence for us, we moved him back to his natural position of defence after that year. He developed from there and got better each year. He was consistent, smart and competitive. He had a great passion for the game and loved to play."

Gorges had nearly an identical path to the National Hockey League as he did the WHL, he went undrafted at the NHL Entry Draft. In 2002 the San Jose Sharks signed the Kelowna product as an undrafted free agent.

Gorges represented Canada on the international stage at the 2004 World Junior Championships in Finland where he helped Canada to a silver medal.

Following his junior career, the 6'1 defender made the jump to the American Hockey League during the 2004-2005 season with the Sharks farm team. He made his NHL debut with the Sharks the next season.

Gorges went on to play in 783 NHL games with stops in San Jose, Montreal and Buffalo. He had 17 goals and 107 assists as well as 404 penalty minutes.

He was an Assistant Captain with both the Canadiens and Sabres franchises.

He now resides in Kelowna with his wife Maggie and their two sons Noah and Jayden.

The Kelowna Rockets will honour Josh Gorges ahead of the game Saturday night against the Prince Albert Raiders. 


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Taking one on the chin


  • If the Kelowna Rockets were Superman, the Prince George Cougars would be its Kryptonite. The Cougars have something in their game that makes life miserable for a Rockets team that is 2-3-1-1 against their BC Division cousins. The Cougars most dominating performance in the seasonal series came last night at CN Centre in a lopsided 7-2 win. The Cougars chased starting goaltender Roman Basran by scoring three times on its opening 11 shots and cruised to victory. It was the Cougars first game on home ice following 11 straight on the road. Sadly, it looked like the Rockets had been on the road for over a month, not the Cougars, with what can only be described as a sluggish effort. The visitors looked tired or uninspired. I can't put my finger as to the reason why? It was a costly loss. It allowed the Cougars back into the playoff hunt. The Rockets now lead Prince George by only 5 points for third place in the BC Division while falling out of contention for second place with the Victoria Royals. The Royals are now 7 points ahead after a 4-1 home ice win against Kamloops. Victoria still has three games in hand. 
  • The last time the Rockets lost by 5 goals in Prince George was October 27, 2001 in a 8-3 loss. Bart Rushmer, Tyler Mosienko and Carsen Germyn scored in the setback. 
  • Last night's game is one where you must quickly flush it out of your system. You didn't execute. You didn't compete. Simply flush it down the toilet and move on. It was a night where errors were magnified and few bright spots were available to build on heading into the rematch tonight. Leif Mattson and Nolan Foote scored power play goals to make it somewhat respectable, but even the shot clock wouldn't lie with the visitors generating only 5 shots in the opening 27 minutes of the game. After firing only 10 pucks on net in the first-two periods, the Rockets were able to equal that total in the final period in their 20th loss of the season. 
  • As an observer, I am always looking for answers on how the team can show up so flat. I wonder if Thursday's WHL trade deadline had anything to do with it? Did it take an emotional toll on the team and did that translate into a sub par effort a night later? Or did the loss to the Everett Silvertips Wednesday night somehow diminish the confidence of the team? Again, I am simply asking the questions and searching, with no avail, for the answers.    
  • The Cougars were able to get secondary scoring with three goals coming from defencemen. Cole Moberg scored twice and looked like a modern day Dan Hamhuis. Even rookie d-man Jack Sanders scored his first goal of the season in a game where everything went wrong for the visitors and everything went right for the home team. Even blind shots from the blue line seemed to find its way into the back of the net. Josh Maser, who many teams likely called Cougars GM Mark Lamb and inquired about the obtaining the former 28 goal man, scored twice in the game that took just 2 hours and 19 minutes to play. 
  • While it was great to see the Rockets score a pair of power play goals, the real concern is generating offense even strength and finding goals from anyone not named Leif Mattson, Nolan Foote and leading scorer Kyle Topping. Those three, who make up the top line, have scored 54 times between them or have contributed 52% of the teams goals this season.  
  • With 104 goals scored this season and 27 games left on the schedule, the team is flirting with a franchise record for offensive futility. The Rockets scored a franchise low 156 goals during the 2006-2007 season. This years edition is 52 goals shy of that mark. Averaging 2.5 goals per game this season and having scored just 43 times in their past 20 games (2.15 per game), the 2018-2019 edition will have to pick up the pace in order to avoid the distinction of being the lowest scoring team the Rockets have ever iced.
  • Leif Mattson collected a goal and had an assist in his 150th career WHL game. Mattson has 4 goals and 10 points in the seasonal series. 
  • Cayde Augustine was back in the line-up after being a health scratch after the Christmas break. It was Augustine's first game since December 15th in Medicine Hat. 
  • Newly acquired defenceman Schael Higson was involved in a late third period fight with Cougars forward Connor Bowie. It was Bowie's first major of the season. Higson played the game alongside d-partner Kaedan Korczak. 
  • Since a 4-3 overtime road loss to the Cougars back on November 14th, the team has scored just 21 goals in their last 11 road games (1.9 goals per game). 
  • We have the rematch tonight on AM 1150. We will start things off with 'The Kelowna Rockets This Week' at 6 pm as we look back at Tyson Barrie's record setting effort with the Colorado Avalanche and colour analyst Kent Simpson joins us for another installment of 'Simpson Says'. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Rockets vs. Cougars preview

Shoot the Breeze Photgraphy

Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets meet the Prince George Cougars for the second time in a week. Last Friday at Prospera Place, the Cougars earned a 2-1 shootout win. The Rockets are coming off a 4-2 loss Wednesday against the visiting Everett Silvertips. Lassi Thomson scored both goals in the setback. Thomson’s opening goal was his first in 23 games. James Porter was solid in goal, named the first star, with a 40 save performance. After these two games this weekend, the Rockets host Moose Jaw Wednesday before traveling to Everett Friday night. The team welcomes Marc Habscheid, Jeff Truitt and the Prince Albert Raiders Saturday night. The Rockets are 13-9-3-1 in 26 games under head coach Adam Foote. 

Who’s Hot: Lassi Thomson has 2+6=8 points in his last 9 games…Nolan Foote has points in 9 of his last 13 games. Foote has 5+8=13 over that stretch...Leif Mattson has 9 goals in his last 16 games. The 19 year-old has registered at least one shot on goal in 38 of the teams 40 games this season. Kyle Topping has registered a point in 28 of the teams 40 games this season... The Rockets penalty killing unit is 35 for 40 in their last nine road games…The Rockets have points in 10 of their last 11 home games (8-1-2-0).  

New Boys on Blue Line: The team acquired 20 year-old Shael Higson Wednesday from the Brandon Wheat Kings for 20 year-old Braydyn Chizen and a 5th round bantam pick. The team then claimed 20 year-old defenceman Matt Barberis off waivers Thursday from the Vancouver Giants. To make room for Barberis, the team released overage forward Lane Lablocki.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets are 4-7-0-0 in 11 games against a US Division team this season. Three of the four wins have come against Tri City with a single victory over Seattle…The team plays 9 more games against US Division rivals with four games against Spokane, two with Everett and Portland and a single against Seattle.….The Rockets have played 11-one goal games at home this season. Last year they played 15-one goal games at Prospera Place…The team has played in 8-one goal games on the road….The Rockets have six birthday’s in January which include Liam Kindree (Jan 2nd), Kris Mallette (Jan 19th – turns 40), Ethan Ernst and Dalton Gally (Jan 26th), Ted Brennan (Jan 28th) and Kaedan Korczak (January 29th)…The Rockets are sending a CHL high three players to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game next month in Red Deer. Nolan Foote, Lassi Thomson and Kaedan Korczak will attend the game of the top 40 prospects. The game will take place January 23rd…Since going 1-8-0-0 to start the season, the team is 16-11-3-1 in their last 31 games …Leif Mattson has 5-two goal games this season. Four of those five-two goal games have come on the road…The Rockets are 7-8-2-1 against BC Division teams this season…Five 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 and Alex Swetlikoff 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 5-9-1-0 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: 16 vs. Victoria December 7, 2018 (2-0 win)
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)
Last shutout at home: December 7, 2018 vs. Victoria (2-0 W - Roman Basran 16 saves)
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)
Overtime Games: @ Kamloops (3-2 Loss) December 28, 2018, vs. Saskatoon (5-4 Loss) December 1, 2018, @ Tri City Nov 30, 2018 (3-2 win), @ PG (4-3 Loss) November 14, 2018, vs. PG (4-3 win) October 27, 2018.  

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Rockets-Tips preview

Chris Mast Photo

Game Day Preview: The Kelowna Rockets meet the Everett Silvertips for the second of four times this season. Back on November 24th, the Tips earned a 2-1 win. Connor Dewar scored the game winner with 54 seconds left in regulation time. Kyle Topping had the lone goal, as the Rockets were outshot 42-18. James Porter was terrific and was named the second star. The Rockets make a return visit to Everett on January 18th before closing out the seasonal series February 15th at Prospera Place. The Rockets are coming off a 4-3 loss Saturday to the Kamloops Blazers. Leif Mattson, Nolan Foote and Kyle Topping scored in the setback. The game winning goal came on a penalty shot with 1:20 remaining in regulation time. Roman Basran was solid in the one goal loss. After tonight’s game the Rockets are in Prince George for back-to-back games this weekend before welcoming Moose Jaw a week from tonight at Prospera Place. The Rockets are 13-8-3-1 in 25 games under head coach Adam Foote. 

Who’s Hot: Lassi Thomson has 6 assists in his last 8 games…Nolan Foote has points in 8 of his last 12 games. Foote has 5+7=12 over that stretch...Leif Mattson has 9 goals in his last 15 games. The 19 year-old has registered at least one shot on goal in 38 of the teams 39 games this season. Kyle Topping has registered a point in 27 of the teams 39 games this season... The Rockets penalty killing unit is 35 for 40 in their last nine road games…The Rockets have points in 10 of their last 11 home games (8-1-2-0).  

Approaching Personal Bests: Liam Kindree is one point shy of the career high 27 points he put up last season. Kindree has 7+19=26 this season after accumulating 8+19=27 in 50 games a season ago…Nolan Foote has 20 goals this season, one more than his previous career high of 19 goals set in his rookie season.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets are 4-6-0-0 in 10 games against a US Division team this season. Three of the four wins have come against Tri City with a single victory over Seattle…The team plays 10 more games against US Division rivals with four games against Spokane, three with Everett, two with  Portland and a single against Seattle.….The Rockets have played 11-one goal games at home this season. Last year they played 15-one goal games at Prospera Place…the team has played in 8-one goal games on the road….The Rockets have six birthday’s in January which include Liam Kindree (Jan 2nd), Kris Mallette (Jan 19th – turns 40), Ethan Ernst and Dalton Gally (Jan 26th), Ted Brennan (Jan 28th) and Kaedan Korczak (January 29th)…The Rockets are sending a CHL high three players to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game next month in Red Deer. Nolan Foote, Lassi Thomson and Kaedan Korczak will attend the game of the top 40 prospects. The game will take place January 23rd…Since going 1-8-0-0 to start the season, the team is 16-10-3-1 in their last 30 games …Leif Mattson has 5-two goal games this season. Four of those five-two goal games have come on the road…The Rockets added 17 year-old forward Alex Swetlikoff to the roster. The Kelowna resident was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a 4th round bantam pick. Swetlikoff was originally drafted in the third round by the Seattle Thunderbirds.…The Rockets are 7-8-2-1 against BC Division teams this season…Five 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 and Alex Swetlikoff 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 5-9-1-0 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: 16 vs. Victoria December 7, 2018 (2-0 win)
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)
Last shutout at home: December 7, 2018 vs. Victoria (2-0 W - Roman Basran 16 saves)
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)
Overtime Games: @ Kamloops (3-2 Loss) December 28, 2018, vs. Saskatoon (5-4 Loss) December 1, 2018, @ Tri City Nov 30, 2018 (3-2 win), @ PG (4-3 Loss) November 14, 2018, vs. PG (4-3 win) October 27, 2018.  

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Monday, January 7, 2019

Surrendering third period goals=lethal

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • It feels like a common theme this season. The Kelowna Rockets have had a win literally taken out of their hands by surrendering a late third period goal. It happened again Saturday night in Kamloops when Orrin Centazzo's penalty shot goal with 1:20 left in regulation time, lifted the Blazers to 4-3 home ice win. The loss came on the heels of a 2-1 shootout loss the night prior to the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets now sit in third place in the BC Division, three points behind second place Victoria and five points up on fourth place Kamloops.
  • The Rockets are no strangers to surrendering untimely goals late in games. Back on November 14th, Prince George scored the tying goal with 17 seconds left in regulation time and ended up earning a 4-3 overtime victory. On November 24th, in Everett, the Tips scored the game winner with :54 seconds left and handed the Rockets a 2-1 road loss. On December 28th, Zane Franklin scored the tying goal with 1:06 left on the clock and then won the game in overtime in a 3-2 victory. Then we point to Saturday's 4-3 loss when the Blazers score the winner with 1:20 left in the third period. That's four examples in the last 6 weeks where the team has had points taken off the board in their battle with Victoria for second place in the BC Division.
  • Saturday's loss in Kamloops was the 5th consecutive game where the outcome was decided by a single goal. Heart attack hockey has been common place with a team that has a lack of scoring depth. The line of Leif Mattson, Nolan Foote and Kyle Topping combined for 6 points in Saturday's loss. All three players collected a goal and an assist. Sadly, secondary scoring is scarce. It was nice to see Connor Bruggen-Cate, a 18 goal man from last season, snap a 23 game goal scoring drought Friday night in a one goal loss to the Cougars.      
  • The Rockets have 100 goals after 39 games this season. It took this seasons team 13 more games to reach the 100 goal mark than a season ago. Last season, the Rockets hit the 100 goal mark as a team in their 26th game. 
  • Four of the top 6 lowest scoring teams in the WHL reside in the BC Division. Prince George has scored the fewest while the Kelowna Rockets have registered the third fewest goals scored. Victoria is 5th while Kamloops has the sixth fewest goals scored
  • Lassi Thomson was all smiles after Saturday's 4-3 road loss. Why? How could he not feel good knowing that Finland, his home country, won the gold medal with an upset win at the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championships in Vancouver. Look for the 18 year-old draft eligible Thomson to be a member of Finland when they defend their title in 2020 when the tournament is held in the Czech Republic.    
  • The task for the Rockets gets anything but easy as we look ahead at the schedule. The next opponent is the first place Everett Silvertips on Wednesday. It features a team that has lost only 8 times this season. The defending Western Conference champion Tips are only 7 points back of Prince Albert for first place in the WHL standings. The Raiders provide the opposition January 19th. Wins will get harder, not easier to come by as the team opens a stretch of playing 10 games in 21 days starting Wednesday against Everett. 
  • Don't forget this Thursday is the WHL trade deadline. Will the Rockets add to its current roster before 1 pm local time? My guess is they will add to make this years team better for a possible longer push in this years playoffs. I anticipate the Rockets being extremely active at next years trade deadline as they build towards hosting the 2020 Memorial Cup.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Low scoring teams collide


Game Day Preview: Happy New Year! The Rockets ring in the new year with a date against the Prince George Cougars. These two teams are separated by 10 points in the BC Division standings with the Rockets sporting a record of 2-2-1 in the opening five games. Two of the five games have been decided in overtime with three of the five being one goal games. The Rockets play the Cougars three times in their next five games with the two hooking up in a two game set at CN Centre next weekend. Leif Mattson and Kyle Topping lead the team with 8 points apiece (3+5=8) against the Cougars, with Mattson, Topping, Nolan Foote and Lassi Thomson each scoring three goals in the five games.  The Rockets visit the Kamloops Blazers tomorrow night before welcoming the Western Conference leading Everett Silvertips this Wednesday.  The Rockets are 13-7-3-0 in 23 games under head coach Adam Foote.  

Who’s Hot: Lassi Thomson has 4 assists in his last 6 games…Nolan Foote has points in 7 of his last 10 games. Foote has 4+6=10 over that stretch...Leif Mattson has 8 goals in his last 13 games. The 19 year-old has registered at least one shot on goal in 36 of the teams 37 games this season. Kyle Topping has registered a point in 26 of the teams 37 games this season... The Rockets penalty killing unit is 33 for 36 in their last eight road games…The Rockets have points in 9 of their last 10 home games (8-1-1-0).  

Approaching Personal Bests: Liam Kindree is one point shy of the career high 27 points he put up last season. Kindree has 7+19=26 this season after accumulating 8+19=27 in 50 games a season ago…Nolan Foote has is one 19 goals this season, the same career high he had as a WHL rookie two seasons ago.

Broadcasters Notebook: The team has played 10-one goal games at home this season. Last year they played 15-one goal games at Prospera Place…the team has played in 7-one goal games on the road. After this weekend, the Rockets will play 10 games in 21 days starting next Wednesday against Everett to close out January…Dalton Gally had two assists against Kamloops last Saturday. Gally also had a two assist game vs. Victoria back on October 20th….The Rockets have six birthday’s in January which include Liam Kindree (Jan 2nd), Kris Mallette (Jan 19th – turns 4-0), Ethan Ernst and Dalton Gally (Jan 26th), Ted Brennan (Jan 28th) and Kaedan Korczak (January 29th)…Alex Swetlikoff made his WHL debut last Friday in KamloopsThe Rockets are sending a CHL high three players to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game next month in Red Deer. Nolan Foote, Lassi Thomson and Kaedan Korczak will attend the game of the top 40 prospects. The game will take place January 23rd…Since going 1-8-0-0 to start the season, the team is 16-9-3-0 in their last 28 games….Kyle Topping’s goal Saturday was the 50th of his career…Leif Mattson has 5-two goal games this season. Four of those five-two goal games have come on the road…The Rockets added 17 year-old forward Alex Swetlikoff to the roster. The Kelowna resident was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a 4th round bantam pick. Swetlikoff was originally drafted in the third round by the Seattle Thunderbirds.….The Rockets are 7-8-2-0 against BC Division teams this season…Five 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 and Alex Swetlikoff 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 5-8-1-0 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: 16 vs. Victoria December 7, 2018 (2-0 win)
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)
Last shutout at home: December 7, 2018 vs. Victoria (2-0 W - Roman Basran 16 saves)
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)
Overtime Games: @ Kamloops (3-2 Loss) December 28, 2018, vs. Saskatoon (5-4 Loss) December 1, 2018, @ Tri City Nov 30, 2018 (3-2 win), @ PG (4-3 Loss) November 14, 2018, vs. PG (4-3 win) October 27, 2018.  

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150