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 followed by 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 it 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 since being acquired from the Saskatoon Blades 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 maybe more accurately suggested, for the first time this season it 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

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Emotionally laden one goal win

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • 2-1 hockey games are boring right? Wrong! In arguably the most emotionally charged game of the season, the Kelowna Rockets were able to earn a one goal win last night over the Kamloops Blazers. The two points didn't come easy. Hard fought, rewarding victories that galvanize a team never are a walk in the park. The home team had to answer the bell or cower to a Blazers team that wanted to up the ante - physically. That should have come as no surprise after playing a significantly gentler game the night prior in a 3-2 overtime win in Kamloops. What came as a surprise was the Rockets ability to answer the bell. Instead of folding like a cheap tent, the home team appeared to play with more bite and gave back as much as they received in their 17th win of the season. With a capacity crowd (6,007) watching things unfold between the two BC Division rivals, it proved that even a game in late December can bring the type of energy, emotion and intensity that makes the game so fun to watch. Sadly, pure, raw emotion is often lost in a gentler game where skating and skill are the focal point and animosity towards one another is an afterthought. That wasn't the case on this night.
  • The turning point? In my humble opinion it was a fight that Rockets defenceman Dalton Gally had with Blazer overager Jeff Faith. It happened  after Faith delivered a hard hit on Nolan Foote. Foote was targeted twice with big hits before Gally elected to drop the gloves with Faith, sending a message that the home team wouldn't be pushed around. It seemed after that tilt, the Rockets played with more emotion. While not losing their heads and running around in an effort to get retribution, Adam Foote's team played with more passion and heart then what we've witnessed from this group this season. 
  • Typically, goals were hard to come by for both teams. Dylan Ferguson and Roman Basran had much to do with that as both goalies were named game stars. Of the three goals I liked the most, it was likely the goal mouth scramble when Nolan Foote was able to knock the puck in from the lip of the crease. It was as ugly of a goal as Foote will score, but it was the type of greasy goal that only seemed fitting in a game where heart and determination, not skill, would be the deciding factor between a win and a loss. It was Foote's 19th of the season, tying a career high for goals that was set in his rookie campaign. The goal tied the game at 1. 
  • The prettiest goal of the night came from leading scorer Kyle Topping. The 19 year-old received a picture perfect pass from the right point by teammate Lassi Thomson. Thomson, locating Topping at the left face-off circle, fired a perfect shot, short-side blocker-side, to give the home team their first lead of the game. From there, the Rockets weren't about to surrender another heartbreaking late third period goal and ended up earning a point at Prospera Place for the 9th time in 10 games.
  • While not receiving a star in the building, I thought Dalton Gally deserved one. If for only one night the big defenceman should have been recognized, this indeed was the game. The fight was one thing. The well spoken blueliner also had two assists and had a solid hit on Blazers forward Brodi Stuart in the third period. I was pleased to see he received some love after the game as he was made available to the media for his terrific effort.  
  • It may be a small detail, but I really thought the Rockets celebration after the two goals were scored had a different tone/feel to them. Everyone seemed to be a little more jacked up. Were the goals more rewarding? Were they playing harder for each other? Maybe the crowd had something to do with it? I can't pin point it, but clearly it looked like they were enjoying the fruits of their labour unlike what we've witnessed in the opening 36 games of the season.     
  • The Rockets have been involved in 10-one goal games this season on home ice. Of those 10, the Rockets have a record of 6-3-1-0. 
  • The win moves the Rockets back into sole possession of second place in the BC Division, two points up on the third place Victoria Royals. The Royals suffered a 4-2 loss in Medicine Hat. On a Central Division road trip, the Royals still have 5 games in hand, so the Rockets will have to watch things unfold this week before playing their next game on Friday against the visiting Prince George Cougars.      

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Rockets/Blazers preview



Shoot the Breeze Photography
Game Day Preview: Welcome to the unofficial second half of the WHL season for the Kelowna Rockets. This is technically game #36 (two games past the halfway point) and is the 5th consecutive game on opposition ice after completing a four game in five night Central Division road trip before Christmas. The Rockets enter the game with a record of 16-17-2-0, which is good for second place in the BC Division, 7 points up on the Blazers, who have 4 games in hand. This is only the third meeting of the season between these two teams. They met on the opening weekend of the season with the Blazers winning 4-1 and 3-1. The Rockets meet the Blazers in three of their next four games, with a return engagement tomorrow night at Prospera Place before meeting again at Sandman Centre January 5th. The Rockets are 0-2-0-0 in the seasonal series. The Rockets are coming off a 2-1 win in Medicine Hat back on December 16th. Leif Mattson scored both goals in the win, snapping a mini two game losing streak. The Rockets are 12-7-2-0 in 21 games under head coach Adam Foote.  

Who’s Hot: Nolan Foote has points in 6 of his last 8 games. Foote has 3+6=9 over that stretch...Leif Mattson has 8 goals in his last 11 games. The 19 year-old has registered at least one shot on goal in 34 of the teams 35 games this season. Kyle Topping has registered a point in 25 of the teams 35 games this season... The Rockets penalty killing unit is 30 for 32 in their last seven road games.

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 is one goal shy of his career high 19 goals scored in his rookie season. Foote scored those 19 goals in 52 games…Half of Foote’s 50 career goals have been scored on the power play.

Broadcasters Notebook: Kyle Topping, Leif Mattson and Nolan Foote have combined to score 51% of the teams 92 goals this season….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 15-9-2-0 in their last 26 games….Kyle Topping’s next goal will be 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 have 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.…Lassi Thomson (Finland) and Libor Zabranski (Czech Republic) return to the lineup after failing to make their respective countries rosters for the World Junior Hockey Championships….The Rockets are 6-8-1-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets have only one December birthday to celebrate. Lane Zablocki officially turned 20 yesterday (December 27th) …Four members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s November “Players to Watch’ List. Forward Nolan Foote is an ‘A’ prospect, meaning a first round candidate. Kaedan Korczak is a ‘B’ prospect which means he is a second or third round candidate. Roman Basran/Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospects, which means he could be taken in the third to the seventh round…Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith.,,The Rockets are 4-8-1-0 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)

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Road swing filled with success and failure

Speaking with ex-Rocket, now Calgary Flames Mikael Backlund
  • 2 and 2. Yep, about what I expected on the Kelowna Rockets Central Division road trip before Christmas. Optimistically, I was looking for more, possibly a heroic effort in Lethbridge or Calgary that simply didn't come to fruition. I knew the toughest challenge would come in Lethbridge after spending the previous night in Cranbrook. Playing the night before and throwing a 3 and a half hour bus ride into the mix against a strong team puts you behind the eight ball awfully quick. But for a team that is teetering around the .500 mark this season, few find themselves in the middle of the pack of the 22 team circuit able to play four games in five nights and run the table. History has shown, only the championship caliber team's that have significant depth are able to defy the odds and prove that winning on the road is not a problem.
  • I liked the way the Rockets ended the trip with a 2-1 victory in Medicine Hat. It has everyone feeling a little better about themselves heading into the Christmas break. While slow to start, the Rockets got a lucky one to take a 1-0 lead and then Leif Mattson scored a power play in the teams 16th win of the season. The officiating staff, who appeared through my 'Kelowna Rockets rose coloured glasses' of trying to keep it close, allowed the Tigers seven power play chances. Fortunately, assistant coach Kris Mallette's four man unit was again at its best in shutting the door. Heck, Roman Basran wasn't bad either with a 31 save performance and first star honors.
  • The Rockets scored just 7 goals in the four games out East. That is concerning. That just isn't enough to win games. Sure, 5-1 losses in Lethbridge and Calgary saw the team allowed far too many goals against, but both games had little in the way of the opposition goaltender forced to be one of the best players on the ice. In all four games, the Rockets were unable to out-shoot the opposition. Against Kootenay (30-30), Lethbridge (37-27), Calgary (32-26) and Medicine Hat (32-20) the team couldn't lead on a clock that is often indicative of how much defending a team is doing as opposed to playing in the offensive zone.  
  • Leif Mattson ends the road trip with 4 goals. Sure, those four goals came in two games, but one of the teams offensive threats did produce. The luckiest goal he will ever score came in Medicine Hat when the Tigers pulled the goaltender on a delayed penalty and a back pass to the blue-line, in error, saw the puck slowly slid into the unprotected Tigers net. Nolan Foote was shut out in all four games while Kyle Topping had only one goal (in Kootenay) in the four games.  
  • With a 16-17-2-0 record, the team is about where I expected it to be at the halfway point of the season. I just didn't anticipate the team losing so many games early in the season, only to see a coaching change and the team responding to Adam Foote at the helm. I will admit under Foote, the team is playing more to its strengths than its weaknesses. It has been a significant change to the run and gun offense that allowed the team to win 43 games and raise a BC Division banner high into the rafters last season. But despite  losing its top four point producers, I just didn't see the team changing the way they approached games. Maybe they were trying too, but it didn't visually look like they were trying to play more defensive until Foote took over. But don't blame Foote for wanting to play defensive hockey. Right now he needs his team to play that way in an effort to win. 
  • Sometimes statistics do lie. Look at Ethan Ernst's evolution as a player. I think the 16 year-old is doing exactly what Adam Foote wants him to do. The buy-in from a raw rookie is impressive. Ernst will spend the Christmas break wondering why he only has 1 goal this season. The fact is, his defending is superior to some veterans who have twice as many games under their belt at the WHL level. 
  • A trip like this provides so many highlites. I dislike the travel as we spend so little time sleeping in four different hotels over what can only be described as a chaotic schedule. That said, the people you meet along the way is the funniest part. Ok, that and winning. Meeting Kootenay Ice radio broadcaster Brant Hilton for the first time. Having some chuckles with Hurricanes radio man Dustin  Forbes before game time, or talking shop with Jeff Hollick in Calgary. The people around the game makes it a fun experience. 
  • Prior to Friday's game in Calgary, it was awesome talking to Ryan Huska. The winningest coach in franchise history, Huska was pressed for time as the team was flying out to Minnesota after a morning skate at the 'Dome'. But typical Huska, after a quick chat on the bench he said, 'I will hurry up and shower" in an effort to do a quick interview with me. The personable coach delivered as Rockets athletic therapist Scott Hoyer stood closely by mocking my every question with a chuckle and Huska's answers. It felt like old times. It was fun, even if not for a few fleeting minutes.      
  • I have always loved the Rockets alumni. The older I get, the more I appreciate the players that I remember as teenagers and are now grown men. Speaking to Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund was a highlite. Again, he too was pressed for time but took a few minutes with me to catch up. Backlund and his wife are expecting their first child in May.
  • Even the people you come across over your travels that you don't technically have verbal communication with make the road experience rewarding. Hitmen GM Jeff Chynoweth, one of my favourite personalities in the WHL, quickly swung by my broadcast booth while I was on the air. Jeff could have easily walked by, but didn't. I appreciate the handshake. Merry Christmas Jeff, if you read this drivel of a blog.  
  • Even the people you don't meet, yet their voice in the arena is familiar. Jim Duce is the longtime public address announcer for the Medicine Hat Tigers. I've never met the man, yet his voice has graced my airwaves for years when announcing goals and penalties at Tigers home games. It just sounds right. 
  • The road trips enabled me the opportunity to get to know Adam Foote better. I guess it works both ways as the new head coach has to deal with me on a daily basis. Trust takes time to build between broadcaster and coach and once that is achieved, the barriers come down. I've witnessed it first hand with every coach I've dealt with, from Marc Habscheid, Dan Lambert, Ryan Huska, Brad Ralph, Jason Smith and now Adam Foote. At the end of the day, I am not here to second guess them, but to support and cheer for them and the team they guide. 
  • The best hotel stay? We have four to pick from on this trip. Maybe its an unfair playing field, but the Delta Hotels by Marriott in downtown Calgary provided the best stay. Rated as a four star hotel, it truly delivers with rooms that have been recently renovated. The rain shower, the great beds, the massive flat screen TV and the inviting lobby, this hotel is a must stay. In my opinion it is now in a two-way horse race with the Edmonton Inn and Conference Centre as the best stay on the circuit. Yep, both now edge out the Crown Plaza in Portland.    
  • I again want to send a shout-out to our bus drivers on the trip. Greg Link again was the main man behind the wheel and did an excellent job of getting us from Cranbook to Lethbridge along snow covered roads. I even watched Link conduct a safety check of the bus before leaving the hotel in Medicine Hat. Link had his rubber mallet out, checking the tires. Small detail right? Link doesn't throw caution to the wind when it comes to safety. Impressive. Also, a high five to Mel Billings, who joined us in Calgary at 3 am in the morning to take over behind the wheel on our way home. Both Link and Billings are unsung hero's, but are valuable spokes in the wheel as we all attempt to do our job to the best of our abilities. 
  • No hockey until December 28th, eh? A little time away never hurts as we get set for the most exciting time of the season. The opening half saw as much change off the ice as on it. That likely will remain the theme before and after the WHL trade deadline January 10th. Enjoy the egg nog and Christmas tree and then strap yourself in for a crazy 33 games leading into the 2019 playoffs.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Rockets and Hitmen preview



Erik Gardiner leads team in penalty minutes and fighting majors
Game Day Preview: Welcome to the halfway point of the season for the Kelowna Rockets. This is game #34. The Rockets play game three of four straight on a Central Division road trip. The Rockets are 1 and 1 after a 3-1 victory Tuesday over the Kootenay Ice before suffering a 5-1 loss in Lethbridge Wednesday night. In the game against the Ice, Leif Mattson scored twice on the power play in the two goal win. James Porter made 28 saves in the victory. Against the Hurricanes, Liam Kindree found the back of the net for his 7th goal of the season in the four goal loss. Roman Basran took the loss in goal. Of the four goals the team has scored on the trip, all four have come on the power play. Tonight’s game against the Hitmen is the lone meeting of the season between these two teams. The Rockets are 6-4-0-0 in their last 10 appearances at the ‘Dome’ including a 3-1 victory January 7, 2018. James Hilsendager was named the first star with a goal and an assist. The Rockets are in Medicine Hat tomorrow night to close out the first half of the season. The Rockets are 11-6-2-0 in 19 games under head coach Adam Foote.
  
Who’s Hot: Nolan Foote had his 6 game point streak snapped Wednesday night. Foote had 3+5=8 over that stretch...Leif Mattson has 6 goals in his last 9 games. The 19 year-old has registered at least one shot on goal in 32 of the teams 33 games this season. Kyle Topping has registered a point in 24 of the teams 33 games this season. Topping had a five game point streak come to an end Wednesday. Topping had 2+5=7 over that period...In his last 6 appearances, goaltender James Porter has stopped 141 of the last 151 shots (.933 save percentage) he has faced. The Rockets penalty killing unit is 21 for 21 in their last five road games.

Broadcasters Notebook: The Rockets face a former teammate tonight. Jake Kryski, now 20, is the Hitmen’s second leading point producer (14+19=33). Kryski played 37 games for the Rockets in the 2016-2017 season before being dealt to the Hitmen for Carsen Twarynski. Twarynski, a year older than Kryski, would score a career high 45 goals last season…The Rockets have the 9th fewest power play chances (125) in the WHL, yet are the fourth most penalized team behind only Seattle, Portland and Kamloops….Kyle Topping’s next goal will be the 50th of his career…Leif Mattson has 4-two goal games this season. Three of those four two goal games have come on the road…The team has added 15 year-old Jackson Desouza to the roster for this road trip. The fourth round WHL bantam pick in May is playing this season with the Okanagan Rockets of the BCMMHL…The Rockets have acquired the playing rights to 17 year-old forward Alex Swetlikoff from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a 4th round bantam pick. Swetlikoff, a Kelowna product, was originally drafted in the third round by the Seattle Thunderbirds.…Lassi Thomson (Finland) and Libor Zabranski (Czech Republic) have been invited to the training camp for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships….The Rockets traded 19 year-old Jack Cowell to the Kootenay Ice November 29th for a third round bantam pick. The trade was voided when Cowell failed to report… The Rockets are 6-8-1-0 against BC Division teams this season….The Rockets have only one December birthday to celebrate. Lane Zablocki officially turns 20 on December 27th….Four members of the Kelowna Rockets have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s November “Players to Watch’ List. Forward Nolan Foote is an ‘A’ prospect, meaning a first round candidate. Kaedan Korczak is a ‘B’ prospect which means he is a second or third round candidate. Roman Basran/Lassi Thomson are ‘C’ prospects, which means he could be taken in the third to the seventh round…Adam Foote was officially named the new head coach of the Kelowna Rockets on October 23, 2018 replacing Jason Smith.,,The Rockets are 3-8-1-0 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)

Game Notes Compiled by Regan Bartel of AM 1150