Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jackson's shorthanded goals leads Rockets to win

More from the bus later.

Rockets 2 Seattle 1 Overtime

Taking it to the Tigers

  • The Medicine Hat Tigers led the Western Hockey League with 14 shorthanded goals entering Saturday night’s action. The Kelowna Rockets decided to give the visitors a little of their own medicine when the two teams met at Prospera Place. Spencer Main and Geordie Wudrick scored shorthanded goals, leading the Rockets to a lopsided 7-2 win. The victory extended the Rockets winning streak to 5 games while snapping Medicine Hat’s 6 game winning streak.
  • After winning four straight games against teams below them in the standings, the question remained before Saturday night’s game if the Rockets were indeed for real. The 61 hundred fans at Prospera Place and even the opposing team may now be convinced that when the Rockets really want to play, they can compete against the best. The Rockets scored the games first seven goals and received contributions from every player in the lineup. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when all hands are on deck. It’s also amazing how mediocre this team can look if several players opt out and become passengers.
  • Spencer Main earns the Gordie Howe Hat trick. Main scored twice, added an assist and got into a second period fight with Tigers forward Cole Grbavac. Main got involved physically after teammate Max Adolph was being pushed into the Tigers bench. Main’s willingness to engage with Grbavac is just another sign of wanting to do his part for the betterment of the team.
  • A good indication of a good night ahead for the home team came early when off the opening face-off the first minute was played extensively inside the Tigers zone. It sent a clear message to the visitors that escaping with two points wouldn’t come easy.
  • The Rockets were not without their shaky moments. The first four minutes of the second period had the Tigers applying good pressure, yet coming away with no results. Instead, Cody Chikie scores a power play goal to make it a 5-0 score, telling the Tigers that they won’t be leaving Prospera Place with two points on this night.
  • The most snake bitten Tiger? Linden Vey. While he scored a nifty shorthanded goal – the Tigers 15th – he missed on several point blank chances and an open net.
  • I thought Geordie Wudrick had his best game in a Rockets uniform. Why? Sure he scored once and added an assist, but he was physical. A consistent physical presence on the ice by hitting the Tigers d-men every time they touched the puck makes Wudrick a much more affective player. It may not been an enjoyable way to play the game for the 19 year-old forward, but if he would night in and night out play that way, I would bet you Wudrick would earn an NHL contract. You can’t be a big body and not play that way.
  • How much did the Rockets want to win this game? Look no further than a second period shift from rookie Brett Bulmer. Bulmer attempts to make contact on Tigers defenceman Thomas Carr and goes flying high in the air after contact is made. The slighter Bulmer gets back up and bangs another body. You don’t have to be 6 foot 6 and weight 230 pounds to be a pain to play against, but you can be 6’3 and 175 pounds and use your body in such a way that the opponent will be aware you are on the ice. I loved that shift. Bottle that one up.
  • The Tigers were definitely the older of the two hockey clubs. Medicine Hat dressed eight 19 year-olds and three 20 year-olds. The Rockets dressed three-19 year-olds and just two-20 year-olds. Overage forward Lucas Bloodoff sat this one out with the flu.
  • The Rockets scored three goals on the power play and scored twice shorthanded. During the five game winning streak the Rockets are 11 for 29 on the power play, or almost 38 percent.
  • The win moved the Rockets into 7th place in the Western Conference, tied in points, but the Rockets have more wins than Chilliwack.
  • Medicine Hat was playing their 32nd road game of the season Saturday night. Amazing. The Tigers have just four more road games this season.
  • Adam Brown was again steady in goal for the Rockets. Rebound control was not a problem. He out dueled Tigers starter Tyler Bunz, who is rated among the top five North American goaltenders for the upcoming NHL draft. Brown isn’t ranked.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Grabbing the Tiger by the tail!

Rockets 7 Tigers 2 Final

Rockets win 4th straight

  • While Tyson Barrie's record breaking power play goal in the third period was memorable, his shootout goal had people talking after the game. It appeared Barrie wanted to go to the backhand, but once he saw Cougars goaltender Hudson Stremmel go down deep in his net he stayed on the forehand and roofed the puck just inside the cross bar for the game winning goal.
  • Outside of Tyson Barrie's record setting performance, the best player on the ice was Stremmel. Stremmel made several big saves and ended up facing 52 shots on the night. Those 52 shots is a Kelowna Rockets season high. Had the Cougars won, Stremmel would have been the games #1 star.
  • A great effort by Prince George. Not only did they play the game without d-men Art Bidlevskii and Jesse Forsberg, an 11 game losing streak had to be dragging this team down mentally. Yet in saying that, the Cougars - as a team - worked hard and received solid efforts from several veteran players. Forward Parker Stanfield played with purpose while Nick Buonassisi was dangerous. They were far better Friday night than what we witnessed in back-to-back games in Prince George the weekend prior. On this night they probably deserved better. If the Cougars play like they did Friday night, the Giants better be on their game tonight.
  • The Swedish Women's Olympic Hockey Team took in last night's game. Wearing matching blue-yellow and white track suits tends to make you stick out. The Swedish Women's team are using Kelowna as a training ground for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
  • The win was the Rockets 4th straight. Over that period the Rockets have out-scored the opposition 18-8.
  • The win moves the Rockets within 2 points of 7th place Chilliwack and 14 points up on 9th place Seattle.
  • Brandon McMillan could have had a highlight reel goal after he out-skated a Cougars defenceman for a loose puck inside the Prince George zone. McMillan raced to the puck, was bodied off it and fell to the ice, sliding into Cougars goaltender Hudson Stremmel. On his back he swiped at the loose puck with his stick sending it off the side of the net.
  • Is it just me or is Spencer Main getting better? Main made a tremendous defensive play by taking a sure goal away late in the third period when he out-muscled a Cougars forward off the puck at the side of the net with his team holding a slim 3-2 lead.
  • The Cougars dressed 15 year-old Carter Rigby. Rigby had no less than two solid chances to score. Not a bad WHL debut for the midget player from Penticton.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Barrie's record breaking night

Len Barrie set a Kamloops Blazers franchise record by scoring 85 times during the 1989-90 season. Twenty year later his son Tyson is in the franchise record books with the Kelowna Rockets.
Barrie scored twice and scored the game winner in the shootout leading his team to a 4-3 win over the visiting Prince George Cougars.
Barrie now has 153 career points as a defencemen, one point better than former franchise leader Josh Gorges.
Congratulations Tyson!

More on Friday win later. Check back.

Rockets game notes vs. Cougars

Tonight’s Preview: Tonight‘s game against the Cougars is the third meeting between these two teams in less than a week. The Rockets beat the Cougars 4-1 and 6-2 up in Prince George last Friday and Saturday night. Overall the Rockets are 5-1-0-0 in the first six meetings. The seasonal series concludes on the final night of the regular season when the Cougars pay a visit on March 13th. Overall the Rockets enter the weekend having won three straight games after two wins against the Cougars and Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over Seattle. Tonight’s game is the second of a three game home stand for the Rockets, who host Medicine Hat tomorrow night. The Rockets visit the T-Birds in Kent, Washington on Sunday. By the time the weekend is over the Rockets will have faced a team below them in the standings in four consecutive games.

Last Game Recap: Four power play goals in the third period led the Rockets to a 4-2 win over Seattle Wednesday night. Mitchell Callahan had two goals while Geordie Wudrick had a goal and three assists. Tyson Barrie had a goal and an assist while Brandon McMillan chipped in with a pair of assists. Adam Brown made 21 saves in the victory, as the Rockets snapped a five game home ice losing streak. Overall the Rockets were 4 for 7 on the power play while allowing one goal on four T-Bird chances.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: The Rockets have opened the scoring in six of the last seven games…Cody Chikie has four goals in his last six games.…Tyson Barrie has points in 32 of his last 38 games. Barrie has 10 points in his last six games….Barrie has 120 career assists, 1 more than former Rocket d-man Josh Gorges. Barrie is now the franchise assist leader among defencemen..…Mitchell Callahan has fourteen points in his last fifteen games (7+7=14).…Adam Brown has started four straight games.…Brett Bulmer has 6 points in his last six games…Brandon McMillan has goals in three of his last five games. McMillan has eight points in his last five games…Adam Brown is 3-0-0-2 in his last five starts.

Game Day Tidbits: The Rockets are 1 and 5 in situations that feature three games in three nights. The only win was a 4-3 overtime victory at home against Vancouver October 24th….The Rockets have lost 25 times this season. Last season the Rockets lost just 21 times….Tyson Barrie is second in league scoring by defencemen. Barrie is 3 points back of league leader Kevin Connauton of the Vancouver Giants.…The Rockets have been involved in twenty (20) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 9-7-2-2 in those twenty games…Dallas Jackson and Shane McColgan lead the team with 8 power play goals….Tyson Barrie has a team high 43 assists, 3 more than he had all of last season…McColgan is two points back of the Giants Kevin Connauton for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…Ryan Huska recorded his 100th regular season victory December 4th against Edmonton…Geordie Wudrick returned to the lineup last Saturday after missing 11th games with a shoulder injury….Defenceman Mitchell Chapman and forward Brett Bulmer are rated by NHL Central Scouting for this summers draft in Los Angeles. Chapman is rated 151st while Bulmer is ranked 164th among North American born skaters…The Rockets have 10 home games and 11 road games left for a total of 21. Of those 21 games, 7 are against American based teams including three vs. Seattle…Brandon McMillan is three assists shy of 100 in his career…The Rockets have ten players with 10 or more goals. Lucas Bloodoff can join that list. The 20 year-old has 9 goals. Last season the Rockets had 12 players with 10 or more goals.

January’s best performers: Shane McColgan leads the team with 15 points (4+11=15) in January. McColgan is closely followed by Tyson Barrie (2+10=12) and Dallas Jackson (4+6=10). Brandon McMillan 9 points (4+5=9) while Brett Bulmer has eight points (4+4=8) in January.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Westblom gets last laugh over Danton

UBCO study on Rockets

UBCO conduct study on Rockets

What type of economic impact do the Kelowna Rockets have on the City of Kelowna?
UBC Okanagan students are about to find out.
Led by professor Ken Carlaw, an associate professor of economics at UBC Okanagan, students will canvas Rockets fans at two upcoming games for the research project.
The study includes interviewing local business owners and finding out the economic spinoffs from many of the teams former players who make Kelowna their off-season home.
The report should be completed by the end of April.
A similar survey was conducted in Saskatoon on the economic impact the Blades have had in that Saskatchewan city.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Four of a kind have Rockets dealing a winning hand


  • It was bound to end sooner or later. After going 23 games without a win after trailing after two period, the Kelowna Rockets turned the tables Wednesday night against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. Despite being down 2-0 heading into the third period, the Rockets rallied with four consecutive power play goals in a 4-2 come-from-behind win. It was the Rockets third consecutive victory and snapped a season high five game home ice losing streak.
  • The turning point was the result of one of the toughest penalties to take. Seattle defencemen Erik Fleming receives a delay of game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass. The penalty is taken in a 2-2 game. The Rockets go on to score the game winner from Tyson Barrie before getting another power play goal from Mitchell Callahan to put the game away.
  • The fact that Barrie scores the game winner on a 5 on 3 power play with time ticking down proves to be pivotal. Barrie scores the goal with one second left in the 5 on 3, essentially giving the Rockets another 1:40 to work on a 5 on 4 power play. Callahan's goal, his second of the night, is scored on that power play chance to make it 4-2.
  • Geordie Wudrick scored once and added three assists for a 4 point night. It was Wudrick's third - four point game of the season and second in a Rockets uniform. Wudrick had four points in a win in Regina back in December.
  • Tyson Barrie had three points, moving within one point of Josh Gorges for the franchise lead in points by a Rockets defenceman. Barrie has 151 career points, one fewer than Gorges.
  • The best T-Bird? He just turned 17, but forward Colin Jacobs really impressed me. The 4th round bantam pick from Texas looked very composed especially on the blue line on the T-Birds power play.
  • The win moves the Rockets 12 points up on the T-Birds for the 8th and final playoff spot and moves them within 4 points of 7th place Chilliwack.
  • The Rockets beat a U.S based team for only the second time in 14 attempts this season.
  • Forward Spencer Main returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a concussion.
  • It's not often you have a good relationship with the coaching staff of an opposition team, but I can't help but gravitate towards T-Birds head coach Rob Sumner and assistant John Becanic. Both are class individuals who are doing a solid job working with an extremely young team.
  • The two teams renew acquaintances Sunday in Kent.

Game notes vs. T-Birds

Tonight’s Preview: Tonight‘s game against the T-Birds is the first of four meetings between the two teams this season. In fact the Rockets will play Seattle four times in the next 18 games. These two teams face each other Sunday in Seattle. The Rockets enter tonight’s game with back-to-back wins in Prince George last weekend. The Rockets were a 4-1 winner Friday before earning a 6-2 victory Saturday night. This is the first of three straight games at Prospera Place. The Rockets host Prince George Friday and Medicine Hat Saturday night. The Rockets have lost 5 straight games at home and 8 of their last 9.

Last Game Recap: Shane McColgan, Brandon McMillan and Collin Bowman each had three point night’s leading the Rockets to a 6-2 win over the Cougars Saturday night. Brett Bulmer had two goals in the Rockets 21st win of the season. The Rockets were 2 for 11 on the power play, with Bulmer and defenceman Dallas Jackson scoring with the extra man. Adam Brown earned the win in goal making 23 saves.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: The Rockets have opened the scoring in the last six games…Cody Chikie has four goals in his last five games.…Tyson Barrie has points in 31 of his last 37 games. Barrie has 8 points in his last five games….Barrie has 118 career assists, 1 fewer than former Rocket d-man Josh Gorges…Mitchell Callahan has twelve points in his last fourteen games (5+7=12).…Adam Brown has started three straight games.…Brett Bulmer has 6 points in his last five games…Brandon McMillan has goals in three of his last four games. McMillan has six points in his last four games.

Game Day Tidbits: Last season the Rockets beat the T-Birds 7-3 and 5-2 at Prospera Place…The last T-Birds win in Kelowna was February 22/08 in a 5-2 victory. Jim O’Brien had a goal and two assists in the win…The Rockets have lost 25 times this season. Last season the Rockets lost just 21 times….The Rockets power play is 7 for 44 (15.9%) in the last nine games…Tyson Barrie is second in league scoring by defencemen. Barrie is 6 points back of league leader Kevin Connauton of the Vancouver Giants.…The Rockets have been involved in twenty (20) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 9-7-2-2 in those twenty games…Dallas Jackson and Shane McColgan lead the team with 8 power play goals….Tyson Barrie has a team high 41 assists, 1 more than he had all of last season…McColgan is three points back of the Giants Kevin Connauton for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…Ryan Huska recorded his 100th regular season victory December 4th against Edmonton…Geordie Wudrick returned to the lineup Saturday after missing 11th games with a shoulder injury….Defenceman Mitchell Chapman and forward Brett Bulmer are rated by NHL Central Scouting for this summers draft in Los Angeles. Chapman is rated 151st while Bulmer is ranked 164th among North American born skaters…The Rockets have 11 home games and 11 road games left for a total of 22. Of those 22 games, 8 are against American based teams including four vs. Seattle…Adam Brown has a goal against average of 1.92 and a save percentage of .930 in his last four starts.

January’s best performers: Shane McColgan leads the team with 14 points (4+10=14) in January. McColgan is closely followed Dallas Jackson (4+6=10) and Tyson Barrie (1+9=10). Brett Bulmer has eight points (4+4=8) in January.

Trade winds blow: The Rockets were involved in four separate deals at the Western Hockey League deadline January 10th. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Dallas Jackson from Prince George in exchange for overage forward Tyler Halliday and a 3rd round draft pick. The Rockets also picked up 17 year-old Sean Aschim from Prince Albert for a 6th round bantam pick. The Rockets also sent Curt Gogol to Saskatoon for a 3rd round bantam pick and the playing rights to Colton Sissons. Kyle Verdino was sent to Swift Current for a 5th round bantam pick.

Barrie anchors back end: Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie has 148 career points, the second highest point total for defenseman in franchise history. Josh Gorges is the franchise leader with 152 career points. Mike Card is third with 147.

Rockets next three games:
Jan 29 vs. Prince George
Jan 30 vs. Medicine Hat
Jan 31 vs. Seattle

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Westblom will have stories to tell

When former Kelowna Rockets goaltender Kristofer Westblom's playing days are over he will have many stories to tell.
Westblom has played against one of the greatest players on the planet - Sydney Crosby - and will now face a former NHL player who has served time for conspiracy to commit murder.
Westblom had the privilege of playing against Crosby when the Rockets faced the Rimouski Oceanic at the 2005 Memorial Cup in London Ontario, and will now face Mike Danton when the former St. Louis Blues forward suits up Wednesday night for St Mary's against Westblom's Acadia Axemen.
Danton began studies at Saint Mary's University on Jan. 14. The 29 year-old was released on full parole last September after serving more than five years in prison in the United States and Canada.
What's next Westy, a golf game this summer with Tiger Woods?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rockets GM enters BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The Kelowna Rockets are proud to announce that president and general manager Bruce Hamilton has been named as one of four new inductees into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hamilton was announced as one of four inductees into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, joining NHL players Trevor Linden and Dallas Drake as well as BC Hockey’s Frank Lento as new members of the BC Hockey Hall of Fame.
“I’m very humbled and very honoured,” said Hamilton after a press conference on Monday in Vancouver. “In my eyes I think this is an organizational award because I have good people around me to help run our team and our business.”
A dedicated hockey executive, Hamilton is the president, general manager and governor of the Kelowna Rockets. He has directed the Kelowna franchise to four Memorial Cup Tournaments winning for the first time in franchise history in 2003-04. Hamilton has also spent the past six years as Chairman of the WHL Board of Governors. He moved the Tacoma Rockets to Kelowna in 1995. The building of a rich hockey tradition and a proud alumni in Kelowna are guiding principles under Hamilton's leadership.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be looked upon this way,” said Hamilton. “I’m just trying to go about my job and make it as good as we possibly can make it.”
The 2010 Inductees will be honoured at the 2010 BC Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Banquet in Penticton on Friday July 23rd.

Things that make me go hmm....

  • Look at these numbers. 1.92 goals against average. A save percentage of .930. Those are the statistics of Adam Brown in his last four starts. How can you not play him Wednesday against Seattle? When it comes to goaltending, it's all about playing the hot hand. Brown has it going on. The numbers don't lie.
  • Why should you show up at Wednesday's Rockets game against Seattle? To watch T-Birds goaltender Calvin Pickard of course. Pickard is the top rated North American goaltender for this summers NHL draft. Pickard, just 17, may have only 12 wins this season but has a goals against average of 2.86 and a save percentage of .917. Pickard has a great chance of being a first rounder.
  • Who's the best 16 year-old player I've ever seen? It was Todd Holt up until I witnessed Shane McColgan's play on a consistent basis. Holt was a raw 16 year-old with the Swift Current Broncos in 1989-90. Holt, the cousin of former NHL'er Theoren Fluery, scored 26 goals and collected 48 points in his rookie season. McColgan already has 53 points.
  • The T-Birds best 16 year-old player is likely Canadian Olympian Patrick Marleau. Marleau had 74 points in 72 games with the T-Birds in 1995-96. Marleau started the season as a 15 year-old. Two years later Marleau was playing in the NHL with San Jose.
  • The highest scoring 16 year-old forward I can think of in the WHL is Theoren Fluery. Fluery had 75 points with the Moose Jaw Warriors in 1984-85.
  • What do I like most about my job? Talking with former WHL players that have gone on to bigger and better things. That was the case Friday night when I spoke with Prince George Cougars assistant Jason Becker. Becker was a 20 year-old defencemen when I was calling my first season of hockey with the Swift Current Broncos in 1995. Becker is married, has a couple of young children and excited about pursuing his coaching career.
  • Did you know that Becker was a former teammate of Rockets head coach Ryan Huska? The two played briefly together in Kamloops in 1992-93.
  • Did Dean Clark envision his team in the cellar of the Western Conference when he took the Cougars job this summer? Clark obvious anticipated some struggles but could have never predicted the loss of leading scorer Brett Connolly for the majority of the season which forced the trade of top end players Marek Viedensky and Dallas Jackson. Had Connolly been healthy for more than just 12 games, maybe the Cougars would be in the hunt for a playoff spot. Instead the franchise finds themselves in the position of possibly setting new team records for fewest goals scored, most goals allowed and fewest wins.
  • I feel for the players in Prince George, I really do. You still have over 20 games left in the season and you won't make the playoffs. How do you motivate yourself for the remainder of the season when you know it ends March 13th in Kelowna in your final regular season game? Even when the Rockets missed the playoffs in 2006/07, the team didn't know they were eliminated from earning a playoff spot until the last week of the season.
  • The biggest disaster in Prince George this season has been the injuries in goal. When one of your goaltenders suffers a concussions after getting hit in practice, the only luck you have is bad luck.
  • I've received my Best of the West Poll survey and have been ordered to complete it by the end of the month. The 22nd annual poll is expected to be released by the Tri City Herald on February 14th. I am having a problem with one question on the poll. Any idea which one it is? Top referee!
  • I failed to mention Mitchell Chapman's strong play Saturday in a 6-2 win in Prince George. The Rockets rookie d-man was physical. Chapman found himself on the winning end of several big hits, many of which were initiated by the opponent. Chapman needs to bring that physical approach to the table consistently. If he does, his ranking by Central Scouting will surely improve.
  • Brett Bulmer had a solid weekend which didn't surprise me. I knew he was disappointed when he was unable to play against the Cougars in Prince George in November because of a shoulder injury. Now healthy, Bulmer had 2+2=4 in two games against the team he watched as a kid.
  • All is not lost in Prince George. The Caribou Cougars have one of the best midget programs in the province. Guided by head coach Trevor Sprague, the Cougars have supplied the WHL with players like Bulmer, Dylan Willick (Kamloops), Brett Connolly (PG) and Ryan Howse (Chilliwack) and Mitch Elliott (Seattle) just to name a few.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rockets take 2 steps forward

  • You would be hard pressed to find many players across the Western Hockey League enthused about playing at the CN Centre in Prince George, but Kelowna Rockets rookie forward Brett Bulmer is one of them. After being named the first star in a 4-1 win Friday night over the Cougars, thanks to a two assist effort, the 17 year-old scored twice Saturday night in a rematch as the Rockets earned a 6-2 victory. Bulmer finished the weekend with four points in the two games. Unfortunately for the Prince George resident, he will have to wait until next season before taking to the ice again at the CN Centre.
  • Shane McColgan 1+2=3, Brandon McMillan 1+2=3 and Collin Bowman 0+3=3 all had strong outings for the Rockets, who out-scored the Cougars 10-3 over the two games.
  • Bowman's three assists was a career high for the 18 year-old d-man, who was also a +3 in the game and a +5 over the weekend.
  • Defenceman Tyson Barrie collected two assists moving him past Mike Card and into sole possession of second place all time in scoring by a Rockets defencemen. Barrie now has 148 career points.
  • McColgan's three point effort was his 14th multiple point game of his career.
  • Dallas Jackson and Brandon McMillan each scored their 13th goals of the season Saturday night.
  • Scoring by committee. The Rockets now have 9 players with 10 or more goals this season. Tyson Barrie and Lucas Bloodoff are next to join that group. Both players have 9 goals this season.
  • The Rockets 6 goal outburst marked the 4th time this season they have scored six or more goals in a game on the road.
  • Last season the Rockets also won both games of a double header in Prince George. The Rockets were a 7-3 winner Nov 21/08 before recording a 6-2 victory Nov 22nd.
  • Forward Geordie Wudrick returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a shoulder injury. Wudrick earned an assist on McMillan's third period goal.
  • Adam Brown earned the win in goal for a second straight night.
  • The Rockets are now 10 points up on Seattle for 8th place in the Western Conference and are now just 5 points back of 7th place Kamloops.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bulmer likes home cook'n

  • Rookie forward Brett Bulmer couldn't play in his hometown of Prince George when his team made a stop here in November. The 17 year-old had to sit out back-to-back games with a shoulder injury. Friday night though Bulmer made up for lost time by setting up two goals in the Kelowna Rockets 4-1 win over the hometown Cougars. Bulmer was named the games first star, helping his team win for the first time in 8 games.
  • The Rockets came up big with a huge penalty kill in the third period when the Cougars were awarded an extended 5 on 3. With the Rockets holding on to a slim 2-1 lead, the Rockets were able to dodge a bullet before getting a two goal cushion about 2 and a half minutes later.
  • While Alex Rodgers was given the games second star, I thought Cougars goaltender Kyle Jahraus also played well. The same can be said for Rockets goaltender Adam Brown who was steady.
  • Brandon McMillan scored two goals in the win, both in the third period. McMillan scored with just over 6 minutes left in the third and then potted one into an empty net in the teams 20th win of the season.
  • Rookie Codey Ito ended the game with a bang after a solid fight with Jaroslav Vlach. I anticipate Vlach fights very little, but the same can be said for Ito. It was Ito's first WHL fight, leaving Vlach bleeding as he exited the ice. After looking at Vlach's stats, the 6'2 forward has 6 fighting majors this season.
  • A nice touch by Rockets head coach Ryan Huska to have Dallas Jackson and Brett Bulmer in the starting lineup. Jackson was playing against his old team for the first time while Bulmer is a Prince George resident.
  • Just 19 hundred and 25 fans took in Friday's game.
  • The win was the Rockets first road victory in 2010. It snapped a five game road losing streak.

Quick thoughts on a Friday

  • It's good news for junior hockey fans in Prince George, yet I am sure many coaches and players across the league gasped when they heard the news that the Cougars have signed a new ten year CN Centre lease with the City of Prince George. Essentially the lease means WHL hockey will remain in this city for another 8 seasons. The lease expires in 2018. Or does it? If you read the fine print you will notice that the Cougars have an escape clause which allows them to back out at the end of any season if attendance continues to drop. Right now the Cougars have the third lowest attendance in the WHL, attracting just over 23 hundred fans per game. Only Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and Swift Current draw fewer fans. At the other end of the scale, Vancouver, Calgary and Kelowna have the top three home attendance numbers.
  • Forward Geordie Wudrick skated with the team this morning in Prince George. Having missed 10 games with a shoulder injury, the 19 year-old is close to returning to the lineup. If not tonight, maybe tomorrow.
  • Who was the first player on the ice this morning for the pre-game skate? Twenty year-old Dallas Jackson appears to be excited about playing against his old team. Jackson was acquired from the Cougars at the WHL deadline.
  • Cougars forward Tyler Halliday may have mixed feelings as he faces the Rockets tonight. Halliday was sent back to Prince George in the Dallas Jackson deal. Halliday was originally released by the Cougars after the team paired down it's three 20 year-old's. Now, Halliday is playing the rest of the season with a team that essentially didn't want him. How do you play for a team that snubbed you only a few months ago?
  • Mark Guggenberger didn't get his day in the spotlight on the WHL Plays of the Week with his spectacular glove save against Kamloops, but Cody Chikie was given some love this week after his back hand goal against Red Deer caught the eye of the selection committee.
  • Prince George can be a nasty place in January, but 2010 will go down as one of the nicest ones on record when it comes to the weather. We arrived here last night with a temperature hovering just above zero and sunshine streaming from high above throughout the trip. I have never seen this little snow in Prince George. Williams Lake, which is about 2 and a half hours south of Prince George, has virtually no snow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Solid effort, same result

  • How tough is it for the Kelowna Rockets to pick up a win these days? Not even rally caps, or in this case helmets on backwards, were enough Wednesday night in a 2-1 shootout loss to the visiting Chilliwack Bruins. After settling nothing in overtime, everyone on the Rockets bench outside of backup goaltender Mark Guggenberger had their helmets on backwards as they watched the Bruins earn a 2-1 win. The rally helmets didn't work as the teams losing streak was extended to seven (0-5-0-2) games.
  • The Rockets inability to finish on several quality chances and the play of Bruins goaltender Lucas Gore were the story in this game. Gore made 38 stops, none better than a sprawling save off of Rockets forward Brett Bulmer at the side of the net with time ticking down in the 3rd period.
  • For the third straight game Rockets rookie forward Cody Chikie opened up the scoring. What can you say about the 18 year-old forward who made the team on a tryout. Chikie has 15 goals, tied with injured forward Geordie Wudrick for the second most goals scored on the team. He would be a shoe in as the teams rookie of the year if not for a sensational season from a 16 year-old kid from California. Only Shane McColgan has more goals with 18.
  • Adam Brown deserves credit for a solid effort in goal. While he didn't see the number of quality shots that Gore did, a nice glove hand save off of Bruins defencemen Matt Delahey in the second period showed that Brown would be tough to beat. The only goal the 18 year-old would allow was a seeing-eye power play goal from defencemen Brandon Manning in the second frame.
  • This game was full of surprises, including a fight between Rockets pest Mitchell Callahan and Bruins rookie Zach Habscheid. A miss match on paper, Habscheid surprised many - Callahan included - with two solid right hands that stunned Callahan. It just goes to show that in a fight anything can happen. Just ask former Boston Bruin Gord Kluzak when he fought then Hartford Whalers forward Kevin Dineen years ago. That NHL fight saw Dineen flatten Kluzak with a right hand bomb. That tilt will forever be in my head.
  • This game featured as many fights as goals. The fight card included Bloodoff vs. Neigum, Habscheid vs. Callahan and Jobke vs. Stahl.
  • The Rockets had to be shaking their heads heading into the third period. Here they had out-shot the Bruins 17-6 in the second frame yet the Bruins were the lone team to score.
  • Despite the shootout loss, the Rockets have failed to lose to the Bruins in regulation time this season. Overall the Rockets are 5-0-1-1 in seven meetings.
  • Happy birthday to Rockets VP of Business Development Gavin Hamilton. Hamilton turned the ripe old, I mean young age of 50 on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gore great

Bruins 2 Rockets 1 Shootout.

Game notes vs. Bruins

Tonight’s Preview: Tonight‘s game against the Bruins is the 7th of eight meetings between these two teams this season. The Rockets are 5-0-1-0 in the first six games, having out-scored their BC Division opponent 23-12. Of the Rockets 19 wins this season, 26 percent of them have been earned against the Bruins. The seasonal series concludes February 6th in Chilliwack. Overall the Rockets have lost six straight (0-5-0-1) heading into tonight’s game after a 4-3 loss to Red Deer Saturday night. In the big picture the Rockets have just one win in their last 12 games (1-9-1-1). During the six game losing streak the Rockets have been out-scored 31-17. This is the final game of a four game home stand. Following tonight’s game the Rockets are in Prince George for back-to-back games this weekend.

Last Game Recap: Tyson Barrie and Shane McColgan each had two assists in a 4-3 loss Saturday night to the Red Deer Rebels. The Rockets opened the scoring courtesy of Cody Chikie before the Rebels erupted for four straight goals to take a 4-1 lead. Dallas Jackson and Brandon McMillan also scored in the one goal loss. Mark Guggenberger made 21 saves in the loss, with the Rockets going 0 for 3 on the power play.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Tyson Barrie has points in 29 of his last 34 games. Barrie has 7 points in his last seven games, all assists.…Barrie has 116 career assists, 3 fewer than former Rocket d-man Josh Gorges…Mitchell Callahan has ten points in his last eleven games (4+6=10).…Mark Guggenberger has made an appearance in nine of the Rockets last thirteen games.…Brett Bulmer has points in seven of his last eleven games (3+4=7)…the Rockets have given up 31 goals in the last six games (5.2 per game)…Lucas Bloodoff has three goals in his last four games…Mark Guggenberger has lost his last 8 starts. The 21 year-old is 0-7-1-0. Guggenberger’s only win this season came December 12th in a shootout victory in Moose Jaw.

Game Day Tidbits: The Rockets have lost 25 times this season. Last season the Rockets lost just 21 times….The Rockets have been out-shot in 15 of their last 17 games…The Rockets power play is 3 for 27 (11.1%) in the last six games…Tyson Barrie is second in league scoring by defencemen. Barrie is 7 points back of league leader Kevin Connauton of the Vancouver Giants.…The Rockets have been involved in nineteen (19) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 9-7-2-1 in those nineteen games…Kyle St. Denis and McColgan lead the team with 8 power play goals….Tyson Barrie has a team high 39 assists, 1 fewer than he had all of last season…McColgan is six points back of the Giants Kevin Connauton for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…Ryan Huska recorded his 100th regular season victory December 4th against Edmonton…Geordie Wudrick is missing his 10th straight game with a shoulder injury…Defenceman Mitchell Chapman and forward Brett Bulmer are rated by NHL Central Scouting for this summers draft in Los Angeles. Chapman is rated 151st while Bulmer is ranked 164th among North American born skaters…The Rockets have 12 home games and 13 road games left for a total of 25. Of those 25 games, 8 are against American based teams including four vs. Seattle…Only Lethbridge, Edmonton, Seattle and Prince George have fewer wins than the Rockets 19.

January’s best performers: Shane McColgan leads the team with 9 points (3+6=9) in January. McColgan is closely followed Dallas Jackson (3+5=8) and Tyson Barrie (0+7=7). Mitchell Callahan has five points (1+4=5) during the month while rookie Brett Bulmer has four points (2+2=4) in January.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rockets injury update

Geordie Wudrick - out 1 week with a shoulder injury.
Spencer Main - out 1 to 2 weeks with a concussion.
Evan Bloodoff - 8 weeks after undergoing knee surgery

Monday, January 18, 2010

Things that make me go hmm....

  • Congratulations to Troy Bodie. Bodie scored his first career NHL goal last night in Anaheim's win over Calgary. I had the pleasure of golfing with 'Bodes' this summer during the Rockets alumni golf tournament. Good on him for a player who resides in Kelowna in the off-season.
  • Can I bitch and complain? How did Mark Guggenberger's glove save against Kamloops last weekend not make the WHL Plays of the Week? I guess if Guggenberger was playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers it would have been included. Don't the Tigers score all of the nice goals in the WHL? According to the WHL Plays of the Week they do.
  • Is it just me or does Brandon McMillan look like a frustrated player? The 19 year-old looks angry on the ice, something that is out of character for a player that had just 158 penalty minutes over three seasons. The frustration may be the direct result of his team losing. When you've been in an environment for over a month where little if anything has gone wrong while playing for Team Canada, the transition of playing for a team fighting for their playoff lives isn't easy.
  • Ever notice that rookie Shane McColgan is the second player on the ice during the pre-game warm up? McColgan is also the last player off the ice after the warm up is over. Is that a sign of his leadership role with this team even at the tender age of 16?
  • I had a short chat with Red Deer Rebels defenceman Aaron Borejko before Saturday's game. I couldn't remember if Borejko was making his first appearance against this old team and asked him if he remembered when he got traded. The scary thing is he couldn't recall. For some players being involved in a trade is a significant development in their hockey career. For Borejko, apparently not so much.
  • Adam Brown and Mark Guggenberger have made some big saves during the Rockets recent slide, but what I see are two goaltenders allowing goals that are also savable. When a team is trying to find their footing the goaltender can be the biggest factor is keeping the clubs head above water. My hope is both Brown and Guggenberger find their form and force us in the broadcast booth to have no choice but to name them a game star at the end of the night.
  • The only good news during the Rockets recent 6 game slide is the fact that the Seattle Thunderbirds have been equally as inept. The T-Birds have just three points in their last six games. Seattle trails Kelowna by five points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The two teams meet four times including next Wednesday at Prospera Place.
  • Is it just me or are the Kootenay Ice just going quietly about their business in going 13 games without a regulation loss. That's awfully impressive for a team playing in a tough eastern conference. The Ice are a success story because of their ability to play as a team. Nine different players have ten or more goals. Not even first place Tri City and Saskatoon can match that feat. The Americans have 8 players with 10 or more goals while the Blades have seven.
  • If you've attended home games at Prospera Place over the last couple of weeks you have noticed two ugly announcers on the video screen welcoming you to the arena prior to puck drop. Faces for radio, Gord and I have enjoyed the experience of providing the fans with a 'preview' of the game with our one minute banter. The reviews have been positive. I have yet to witness anyone throwing an object when we appear on the video screen.
  • Do you remember the little girl that knocked our socks off earlier this month when she sang the Canadian and American national anthem at the Rockets game? It turns out she is going to be singing the national anthem at a Canucks game this week. At least Canuck fans will have something to cheer about! Ok, cheap shot...but I had to do it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Behind the Mic with Broncos play-by-play man Jon Keen

Note: This interview was conducted in early December, pre WHL trade deadline and World Juniors.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sluggish second period=sixth straight setback

  • You would be hard pressed to remember the last time the Kelowna Rockets were .500 on home ice, but the Rockets were there Saturday night after a 4-3 loss to the visiting Red Deer Rebels. The Rebels withstood a late third period flurry, handing the Rockets their 6th straight loss and 11th setback at Prospera Place this season. The Rockets are now 11-11-2-1 on home ice.
  • The Rockets were 16-15-3-2 on home ice during the 2006-2007 season which translates to a winning percentage of .514.
  • A sluggish second period was the downfall of the Rockets on this night. The home team generated just five shots on goal in the second frame, yet still managed a late goal from defenceman Dallas Jackson to make it a 4-2 deficit heading into the third period. It was Jackson's first point in a Rockets uniform.
  • Cody Chikie was the Rockets best player, showing hustle throughout the game. The 18 year-old scored his 14th goal of the season to open the scoring in the first period. It marked the third straight game in which the Rockets opened the scoring.
  • Shane McColgan and Tyson Barrie each picked up two assists in the loss. The two players had five point weekends.
  • The last time the Rockets went 6 games without a win was during the 2006-2007 season. The Rockets went 9 games without a regulation win that season, going 0-7-2-0 from January 13th to February 2nd.
  • The Rockets have just one win in their last 8 home games. (1-7-0-1).
  • The loss keeps the Rockets in 8th place in the Western Conference, six points up on Seattle.
  • It was just last weekend that the Rockets entered a home and home series with the Kamloops Blazers with a one point lead on their arch rivals. The Blazers are now 8 points up on the Rockets for 6th in the conference, having won five straight. The Blazers have earned 10 points while the Rockets have earned just one. It translates into a 9 point swing in just over a week.
  • Rebels starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper had to leave the game early in the third period after making a partial stop on a Tyson Barrie blast that went through his legs before forward Brandon McMillan shoved it over the goal line to make it a one goal game. Kuemper appeared to get a piece of the puck with his....how do I say this delicately....his groin before it went past him. After a few agonising minutes in the crouched position, Kuemper slowly made his way off the ice. Backup Kraymer Barnstable, a Kelowna kid, did a great job in shutting the door the rest of the way.

WHL Commish Ron Robison

WHL Commissioner Ron Robison was in Kelowna Friday night. The reason? Find out by listening to the interview.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Disappointing finish won't erase a great game


  • Clearly it was one of the most entertaining games at Prospera Place this season, yet the home team didn't even win. Luke Walker scored the game winning goal in the shootout Friday night leading the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-4 win. The Hawks rallied back from a 2-0 first period deficit in the victory.
  • The best player on the ice - again - was Rockets defenceman Tyson Barrie. Barrie put in a 'Lance Armstrong' type of effort in the one goal loss. Barrie had three assists and was a huge threat in overtime when the teams were playing 4 on 4. Barrie's lung capacity allowed him to move with speed at both both ends of the ice while creating the best scoring chance in overtime and helping his team kill off a Hawks power play. Barrie almost sent Rockets fans into a frenzy when he found teammate Shane McColgan with a perfect pass at the side of the Hawks net. Despite scoring once and assisting on two others, McColgan fired the puck wide of the goal.
  • McColgan ended the night with three points and also managed to score the lone shootout goal for the Rockets in the losing cause.
  • A missed call in the neutral zone when the Rockets had a 2-0 first period lead was a tough pill to swallow for the home team. The non-call saw the Hawks gain possession with Luke Walker beating goaltender Adam Brown with a rising shot to the glove hand side. That goal was the first of three in a row for the Hawks, who could have been down 3-0 had a penalty been called and the Rockets replied on the power play.
  • Despite the non-call, referee Derek Zalaski was consistent both ways and was anything but whistle happy. Overall not a bad game from the one official. I would take Zalaski's performance over a two referee system where the play is often times whistled down because of several soft calls.
  • Zalaski did give the Hawks a power play in overtime though, after a kneeing penalty to forward Brett Bulmer. Zalaski had no other choice but to make that call.
  • Dallas Jackson downplayed his effort in his Rockets debut but the 20 year-old d-man was a calming influence with his veteran presence which was clearly evident to the 61 hundred onlookers. Jackson was eating up big minutes which took away playing time specifically from seventeen year-old Colton Jobke and 16 year-old MacKenzie Johnston. The Rockets were awarded just one power play which didn't allow Jackson to show off his real strength.
  • Codey Ito spent a significant amount of time playing alongside newcomer Sean Aschim and Max Adolph. I liked the 'all Saskatoon' line, which generated some good pressure for three players who are still enjoying the ups and downs of a rookie season in major junior.
  • Ito got clocked by Hawks forward Tayler Jordon in a huge second period hit that knocked Ito's helmet off of his head. What was more impressive than the hit was Ito returning a few shifts later.
  • The biggest save of the game may have come from Rockets captain Lucas Bloodoff. Bloodoff helped out his goaltender by pushing a puck away from the goal line after Hawks rookie Ryan Johansen made a nice move away from Brown and attempted to tuck the puck inside the far post on his forehand. Bloodoff comes from no where and shoots the puck out of harms way.

F.Y.I

The BC Major Midget Hockey League All-Star game will be played tonight in Kelowna.
Game time at Memorial Arena is 7:15.
The game features the top 40 players in the league.
Last season Kelowna Rockets forward Brett Bulmer participated as as member of the Cariboo Cougars who are based in Prince George.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Game notes vs Winterhawks tomorrow night

Tonight’s Preview: Tonight‘s game against the Winterhawks is the third meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rockets are 0-2-0-0, having lost by scores of 3-2 (Nov 14 in Portland) and 4-2 (Nov 18 in Kelowna. Overall the Winterhawks have out-scored the Rockets 7-4 in the seasonal series. The two teams wrap up the four game affair February 20th in Portland. Tonight’s showdown is game two of a four game home stand. The Rockets host the Red Deer Rebels tomorrow night before facing off against Chilliwack on Wednesday. Overall the Rockets have lost four straight and have just one win in their last 10 games (1-8-1-0). During the four game losing streak the Rockets have been out-scored 22-10.

Last Game Recap: Lucas Bloodoff scored the lone goal in the Rockets 4-1 loss to the Kamloops Blazers last Saturday at Prospera Place. The Rockets fired 43 shots at the Blazers goal, but had problems beating goaltender Kurtis Mucha. The Rockets were 1 for 7 on the power play. Mark Guggenberger took the loss in goal making 21 saves.

Trade winds blow: The Rockets were involved in four separate deals at the Western Hockey League deadline last Sunday. The Rockets acquired 20 year-old Dallas Jackson from Prince George in exchange for overage forward Tyler Halliday and a 3rd round draft pick. The Rockets also picked up 17 year-old Sean Aschim from Prince Albert for a 6th round bantam pick. Both Jackson and Aschim will make their Rockets debut tonight. The Rockets also sent Curt Gogol to Saskatoon for a 3rd round bantam pick and the playing rights to Colton Sissons. Kyle Verdino was sent to Swift Current for a 5th round bantam pick.

Jacked about Jackson: The biggest acquisition at the deadline was picking up veteran defenceman Dallas Jackson. Jackson was leading the Prince George Cougars in scoring at the time of the trade. The gifted d-man has 29 points in 29 games this season. Originally listed by the Red Deer Rebels, Jackson has also played for the Regina Pats. Jackson has 86 points in 155 career games.

Barrie anchors back end: Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie has 140 career points, the third highest point total for defenseman in franchise history. Josh Gorges is the franchise leader with 152 career points followed by Mike Card with 147.

Who’s Hot – Who’s Not: Tyson Barrie has points in 27 of his last 32 games…Mitchell Callahan has eight points in his last nine games (3+5=8).…Mark Guggenberger has made an appearance in eight of the Rockets last eleven games.…Brett Bulmer has points in five of his last nine games (3+2=5)…the Rockets have given up 22 goals in the last four games…The Rockets have made a goaltending change in three of the last eight games…Lucas Bloodoff has three goals in his last two games…Shane McColgan may be a minus 24 this season, but Colin Long was a -29 during the 2006-2007 season. Long would eventually lead the team in scoring in back-to-back seasons…Mark Guggenberger has lost his last 7 starts. The 21 year-old is 0-6-1-0. Guggenberger’s only win this season came December 12th in a shootout victory in Moose Jaw.

Game Day Tidbits: The Rockets have lost 24 times this season. Last season the Rockets lost just 21 times….The Rockets have been out-shot in 14 of their last 15 games…The Rockets power play is 3 for 23 (7.7 %) in the last four games…Tyson Barrie is second in league scoring by defenceman. Barrie is 8 points back of league leader Kevin Connauton of the Vancouver Giants.…The Rockets have been involved in seventeen (17) one goal games this season. The Rockets are 9-6-2-0 in those seventeen games…Kyle St. Denis and McColgan lead the team with 8 power play goals….Tyson Barrie has a team high 34 assist, 8 fewer than he had all of last season…McColgan is seven points back of the Giants Kevin Connauton and Medicine Hat’s Emerson Etem for the WHL scoring lead by rookies…Ryan Huska recorded his 100th regular season victory December 4th against Edmonton…Geordie Wudrick is missing his 8th straight game with a shoulder injury…Collin Bowman is missing his 8th straight game with a knee injury….Defenceman Mitchell Chapman and forward Brett Bulmer are rated by NHL Central Scouting for this summers draft in Los Angeles. Chapman is rated 151st while Bulmer is ranked 164th among North American born skaters…The Rockets have 14 home games and 13 road games left for a total of 27. Of those 27 games, 9 are against American based teams including four vs. Seattle…Last season after losing back-to-back games in Prince George on January 16th and 17th the Rockets went 21-3-1-1 in the final 26 games. The only losses were to Portland, Vancouver and Red Deer.

Huska about to become a dad...again

Kelowna Rockets head coach Ryan Huska is about to become a dad...for a third time.
Huska's wife Denise is expecting.
The due date is late June.
The Huska's already enjoy two beautiful girls.
Congrats guys!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rockets speak on dangers of drugs

Four players with the Kelowna Rockets are taking part in the RCMP's 'Blast' (Bring Life and Sport Together) drug awareness program. These players recently went to East Hastings for three days and saw first hand what drug use and the hold it has taken on the lives of the street people in the Vancouver neighborhood. Over the next couple of weeks Spencer Main, Kyle St. Denis, Lucas Bloodoff and Collin Bowman will be speaking at five middle schools across Kelowna on the dangers of drug use. Five other teams in the WHL including the Kamloops Blazers and Vancouver Giants take part in the program.

Sean Aschim transcript

Thoughts on being a Rocket?

"Ya, I am definitely happy with the move. I couldn't ask for a better place. I am really looking forward to getting things going here. It's awesome."

What can you tell me about the kind of player you are?

"I think I am a skilled forward. I play both ends of the rink. I have a little bit of grit and work hard."

What was your first full day in Kelowna like?

"To be totally honest with you I felt pretty lost (laugh). It was quite the culture shock with the weather and just being in such a nice community. I have nothing against P.A but this is a great city."

Are you looking forward to Friday?

"I'm a little nervous. I want to show the fans what kind of player I am. I am looking forward to it and can't wait to get out there."

Dallas Jackson transcript

What are your thoughts on the trade?

"I'm really excited. It was surprising for me to come to Kelowna . I wasn't really thinking of coming here, but I am happy that I did. I was thinking that I was going to get traded but not to Kelowna, but I am happy I am here."

What do you know about the Rockets organization?

"This is a winning place. They love to win here. They preach and breed teams that win and I want to be apart of that".

Are you excited to play with Tyson Barrie?

"Ya, it's going to be a treat playing with him. I think the power play is going to be improving here. Giving him the puck and watching him do some pretty nifty, creative things is something that I am going to be looking forward too."

How much have you improved over the years to the point a player that you are today?

"This year I thought I played pretty consistently. Throughout the year even though the team (Cougars) wasn't doing so good, I kept my plus minus in the plus category which is a real positive for me and so the defensive side of my game has gotten a lot better from last year."

What do the coaches here want from you?

"I think they want good five on five play and being one of the guys on the back end that just leads the way. I am 20 years-old so hope I can help the young guys out a little bit here too and get some more wins here".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lambert turns the big 4-0

  • I had a chance to speak with the two newest Kelowna Rockets today before practice. The transcript of the conversations will be posted shortly. A common theme held constant with both of them. When asked if they were happy to be playing in Kelowna, they both smiled and then said enthusiastically, "yes".
  • Dallas Jackson admitted he had heard rumours he may be traded to Saskatoon before eventually landing in Kelowna. I am sure more teams would have shown interest in the defenceman had his age - 20 - not have been an overwhelming factor.
  • Jackson spends the off season in his home of Edson, Alberta. His father though lives in nearby Salmon Arm. I have a good feeling Jackson's dad will be seen at Prospera Place from time to time this season.
  • Jackson's WHL career began with the Red Deer Rebels before he was eventually traded to the Regina Pats. What's interesting is when he was traded to Regina the Rebels received among others, former Rockets forward Troy Ofukany.
  • Is Jackson trying to make a good impression? He joined Tyson Barrie and injured forward Geordie Wudrick on the ice 20 minutes before practice began. Barrie and Jackson were seen passing the puck back and forth and blasting one timers into the net. I think we will see a lot of those two playing together - specificially on the power play - in the final 30 games of the regular season.
  • Jackson says outside of the sport of hockey, he enjoys the game of golf. In fact Jackson tells me he's a scratch golfer. Just don't tell AM 1150 colour analyst Gord McGarva about this. McGarva won't stop talking to him if he finds that out.
  • Sean Aschim seems like a good kid. We spoke today before practice. The just turned 17 year-old told me the last 24 hours have been full of adjustments. Not only did he have to move to a new city and a new team, but he attended his first class Tuesday at KSS.
  • Aschim admits the Rockets dressing room isn't full of just unfamiliar faces. Aschim knows both Codey Ito and Max Adolph. All three are Saskatoon residents.
  • Curt Gogol scored his first goal of the season Tuesday night as the newest member of the Saskatoon Blades. Gogol helped the Blades beat the Swift Current Broncos, but took a penalty late in the third period, which almost saw the Broncos tie it.
  • You don't want to look too far ahead but Friday's matchup against Portland is potentially a first round playoff matchup between the two teams. Sure, sure, lots of hockey to be played here...but...does this game not give you a bit of an idea of what could happen between these two teams in an opening round playoff series?
  • I want to congratulate Kelowna Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert on turning the big 4-0 today. Lambert is now officially old. I can say that because I turn 42 in February. Happy Birthday Lambo!
  • I remember how I celebrated by 40th. I was in Kamloops of all places calling a hockey game that night. I will remember the scoreboard at the Interior Saving Centre flashing 'Happy 40th Birthday Regan Bartel' during a third period stoppage in play. I am not sure if the Rockets or the Blazers were responsible for that, but it was a nice touch.

Jackson and Aschim comment on trade

Check back for the audio as the two practiced for the first time with the Rockets this afternoon.

Jackson/Aschim practice with new team today

  • No Dallas Jackson. No Sean Aschim. No problem. Two players acquired by the Kelowna Rockets at the Western Hockey League trading deadline on Sunday were no-shows at practice Monday, meaning just 14 players took to the ice for a hard paced workout. Jackson, who was acquired from the Prince George Cougars for Tyler Halliday and a third round pick, was driving his vehicle down to the Okanagan and was unable to make practice while Aschim was flying into Kelowna at around 4:30, a half hour later than the Rockets scheduled practice at Prospera Place. Both new faces will workout with their new teammates today.
  • Why just 12 skaters and two goalies at practice? Collin Bowman and Geordie Wudrick were unable to participate because of injuries. Wudrick took a 30 minute skate prior to the team practicing, wearing nothing more than a helmet, gloves, skates and a Rockets track suit. Wudrick could return to the lineup in about two weeks.
  • While Bowman didn't skate, the 18 year-old defenceman could be in the lineup this weekend either against Portland or Red Deer.
  • Brandon McMillan wasn't at practice. The 19 year-old is getting some well deserves rest after attending the WJHC.
  • Wudrick admits it felt odd to see Kyle Verdino packing his bags and heading to Swift Current. Verdino was traded to the Broncos for a 5th round bantam pick. Wudrick shared the same billet family with Verdino after being acquired from the Broncos for Stepan Novotny in November.
  • Newly acquired forward Sean Aschim is the brother of 19 year-old Calgary Hitmen Kyle Aschim.
  • It looks like Jackson will wear sweater #29 while Aschim has been given Halliday's old #20.
  • The Rockets pick up Jackson at a good time. The 20 year-old has 2+5=7 in his last five games. Jackson had a career 4 points night against Kamloops on January 2nd.
  • One thing stood out to me when the Kamloops Blazers shipped Jimmy Bubnick and Tyler Shattock to Calgary during Sunday's WHL trade deadline. Both are former Blazers first round picks. Since 2006, the year Bubnick was drafted, the Blazers have traded away 8 of the last 9 first round selections in the WHL Bantam Draft. The only player over that period not moved to another team was Reid Jorgensen in 2001. Bubnick, Shattock, Travis Dunstall, Victor Bartley, Kalvin Sagert, Josh Pokol, Tyler Boldt and Kyle Ladobruk have all been moved to another team after being picked by the Blazers in round one.
  • The Saskatoon Blades didn't waste any time welcoming former Rocket Curt Gogol. The Blades already have Gogol's picture taken, wearing the Blades blue/navy and white. Oddly enough Tyler Matheson, acquired from the Blades by the Rockets in October, is still sporting a Blades jersey in his photo on the WHL website.






Monday, January 11, 2010

The voice of the Vancouver Giants

Chapman/Bulmer make NHL draft rankings

Two members of the Kelowna Rockets have made Central Scouting's list of the top eligible North American players for this summers NHL draft.
Rookies Mitchell Chapman is rated 151st while teammate Brett Bulmer is ranked 164th.
Curtis Hamilton, the son of Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton, is rated 56th while Kelowna resident Ryan Harrison is rated 137th.
Hamilton plays for the Saskatoon Blades while Harrison wears the colours of the Prince Albert Raiders.
Kelowna's Cody Beach is rated 181st. Beach plays with the Calgary Hitmen.
This years draft is in Los Angeles June 25th and 26th.

** The Rockets pick in last summers CHL Euro draft is rated 17th of European skaters. Seventeen year-old Teemu Pulkkinen is a 5'11'' 183 pound right winger.

St. Denis' season is over

Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton confirming this morning that 19 year-old forward Kyle St. Denis' season is over. St. Denis suffered his 4th concussion of his career in early December after receiving a high hit in Swift Current. St. Denis has played just 48 games over the last two seasons.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trade day thoughts

  • Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton obviously believes that once all of the injured pieces return to the lineup his team can a) make the playoffs and b) knock off a top three team in the Western Conference playoffs. The acquisition of Dallas Jackson and avoiding the knee jerk reaction in trading 19 year-old forward Brandon McMillan at any price were two good examples that Hamilton believes this team isn't as bad of as many may think. Jackson is a significant upgrade on a defencive core which - up until the deadline - didn't feature one player in the 19 or 20 year-old age group.
  • McMillan remains a Rocket which tells me the offers for the two-way player were just to low. I am sure Hamilton would have liked the same return as the Moose Jaw Warriors received from Brandon for d-man Travis Hamonic. I would think Wheat Kings GM Kelly McCrimmon would only pay that steep of a price to address one area. McCrimmon elected to shore up the defensive side, not tinker with a team already top heavy on offense.
  • I feel good for Curt Gogol. The disgruntled 18 year-old moves to a team that has a legitimate shot of winning the Eastern Conference crown. I am not sure Gogol will see much more playing time than he did with the Rockets on a talented team in Saskatoon, but it's better to be traded to a contender than a cellar dweller. Gogol has to be happy with moving on. I wish him the best of luck with the 'Bridge City Bunch'. I sounded like Blades broadcaster Les Lazaruk there. The only thing that saddens me about the trade is Gogol's grandfather won't be able to watch him on a nightly basis. Curt's grandpa lives in Kelowna and was often seen around the arena exuding with pride while wearing a Rockets jersey with 'Gogol' slapped on the back.
  • Kyle Verdino should enjoy the move to Swift Current. Reunited with former teammate Stepan Novotny, Verdino was playing his best hockey when he was traded to the southwest Saskatchewan city. Verdino had points in 4 of his last 5 games. Was the 18 year-old heads and shoulders better than 17 year-old's Mitchell Chapman and Colton Jobke? Discuss that question among yourselves.
  • I don't know the reasoning behind the WHL holding off on issuing the details on trades until after the deadline closed at 2 pm, but if I was making a trade would I want other teams to know about it in the fear that they would up the ante to improve their team as a result of an improvement I made to my team? If GM's made deals without knowing what their colleagues were doing, does that not show who has the 'beach balls' and who is too scared to venture out by rolling the dice? Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton just answered that question after making four trades with a team that is in 8th place.
  • Rockets fans have to be smiling after seeing the Kamloops Blazers trading away assets like Jimmy Bubnick, Zak Stebner and Tyler Shattock to Calgary. Kamloops is significantly worse off after making those deals - short term - which only helps the Rockets efforts in earning a playoff spot this season. The Rockets trail the Blazers by three points for 7th place.

Five players moved from 2006 WHL draft

A common theme for the players selected by the Kelowna Rockets in the 2006 WHL Bantam Draft. If you were picked in that draft, in most cases you were traded.
Outside of selecting Tyson Barrie in the first round and Collin Bowman in round two, five players from that draft are no longer with the Rockets.
Four have been traded while another was outright released.
Jesse Paradis (4th round) was traded to Moose Jaw last season. Dylan Tait (5th round) was essentially taken off of the teams 50 man protected list. Aaron Borejko (6th round) was traded to Red Deer earlier this season while Kyle Verdino (6th round) was sent today to Swift Current. Curt Gogol (8th round) was traded earlier today to Saskatoon.

Jackson fills huge hole


What has been the Rockets greatest need this season? It was obvious a veteran presence on defense was sadly missing. The Rockets filled that void with one of the best offensive defenceman in the WHL with the acquisition of Dallas Jackson. Jackson, 20, will play alongside Tyson Barrie on the teams power play and will log huge minutes even strength. Jackson has played just 29 games this season because of an Injury, yet has 29 points - including 7 power play goals - this season. Sixteen (16) of his 29 career goals (55%) have been scored on the power play. Originally listed by the Regina Pats, Jackson also played 41 games with the Red Deer Rebels.

Rockets trades

The Rockets have acquired 20-year-old defenceman Dallas Jackson from the Prince George Cougars for 20-year-old Tyler Halliday and a third round WHL bantam draft pick in 2011. Jackson currently leads Prince George in scoring with 29 points in 29 games. He was one of just two players with a plus rating on the Cougars this season. A native of Edson, Alberta, the 6-foot-2, 187 pound Jackson is in his third WHL season and has played with Regina, Red Deer and Prince George.

“We had to find an older defenceman to stabilize our group,” said Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets general manager and president. “We needed somebody to play with Tyson Barrie and Collin Bowman. Jackson will help the power play immediately. He has to be a positive influence on the back end.”

To make room for Jackson the Rockets traded defenceman Kyle Verdino to the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for a 5th round draft pick in the 2011 WHL bantam draft.

“With Jackson coming in it was a numbers game and I think Kyle is ready for a fresh start,” said Hamilton. “He’s a solid young man that I really hope does well in Swift Current.”

The Rockets made two other moves on the WHL trade deadline:

-The Rockets acquired 17-year-old centre Sean Aschim from the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for a 6th round WHL bantam draft pick. A 5-foot-11 172 pound centre, Aschim has scored four points in 26 games as a rookie with the Raiders but is a top prospect. A native of Saskatoon, Aschim had 16 goals, 36 assists and 52 points n 42 games in the Saskatchewan Major Midget League last season.

-The Rockets also acquired the rights to Colton Sissons, a 16-year-old list forward, along with a third round WHL bantam draft pick in 2011, from the Saskatoon Blades in exchange for Curt Gogol. Sissons has 17 points in 43 games so far this season with the BCHL’s Westside Warriors. Last year with the BC Major Midget League’s Vancouver Northwest Giants, the 5-foot-11 right winger had 54 points in 39 games.

“We still feel this division is wide open and with our injured veterans coming back to the our lineup soon, we’re excited about the additions we’ve made,” said Hamilton.

Rockets make deals

Details coming shortly.

Verdino traded

The Rockets also traded 18 year-old Kyle Verdino to Swift Current for a 5th roud pick.

Happy birthday Guggs!

Mark Guggenberger turns 21 today. I stand to be corrected, but my research shows that Guggenberger is the fifth oldest player in the WHL. The senior citizens of the league are Sam Klassen of the Saskatoon Blades and Jordie Deagle of the Red Deer Rebels , who both turned 21 on January 1st. Kootenay captain Dustin Sylvester celebrated his birthday on January 5th while Tri City forward Johnny Lazo turned 21 on January 8th.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mucha - the man

  • You have to wonder if the Kelowna Rockets used up all of their wins against the Kamloops Blazers last season. After going 9-0-0-0 during the regular season and then sweeping the Blazers in the opening round of the playoffs, the Rockets are having a hard time beating a team they owned one season ago. Saturday night at Prospera Place the Blazers won for the 5th time in six meetings with a 4-1 win.
  • Blazers goaltender Kurtis Mucha was the key story in the game. Mucha made several solid stops including a possible momentum changer with a breakaway save on Rockets defenceman Tyson Barrie with 7 seconds left in the second period. Had Barrie scored the Rockets would have carried momentum into the dressing room being down by just a goal. Mucha's stop gave the visitors a 3-1 lead heading into the intermission.
  • Mucha is named the games first star by not allowing a goal on 20 shots in the second period alone. Amazingly the Rockets had 21 total shots in a 6-4 loss the night prior in Kamloops. Mucha was also named the games first start in the Blazers 4-1 win at Prospera Place on December 30th.
  • The Blazers had not won two games in a row in Kelowna since the 2006/07 season. The Blazers were a 3-2 winner December 2/06 and then managed a 4-3 overtime win January 9/07.
  • The Rockets have now scored just 10 goals in their last 6 games. That's an average of 1.67 goals per game.
  • The Rockets scored their opening goal on the power play, yet the special teams unit essentially failed them when it was needed most. A crucial 5 on 3 power play midway through the second period in a two goal game netted them nothing but headaches. It wasn't the difference in the game but a contributing factor in the loss.
  • I hate to sound like Swift Current Broncos radio broadcaster/blogger Jon Keen, but a save by Rockets goaltender Mark Guggenberger off of Blazer forward Brendan Ranford in the first period has to be on the WHL Plays Of The Week. With the Blazers enjoying a 5 on 3 power play, Ranford receives a pass from the other side of the net and promptly puts the puck into a wide open goal. Or does he? Guggenberger, in a display of desperation, flings his catching glove towards the open area of the net and somehow catches the puck before it goes over the goal line. Ranford can't believe Guggenberger makes the save, including 61 hundred onlookers.
  • The Rockets have lost 5 of their last 6 games at home. Overall the team has dropped four in a row for the third time this season.
  • Overall the work ethic, hustle and determination of the Rocket was the best we've seen in four games. While they are on the losing end on this night, it's that type of work ethic that will win this team hockey games on most nights.
  • The loss has the Rockets three points back of Kamloops and in 8th place in the Western Conference, just 6 points back of 9th place Seattle. Gulp! The Rockets and T-Birds meet 4 times in the next 18 games.
  • For the first time in 15 games the Rockets out-shoot the opposition. The Rockets fired 43 shots at the Blazers net. Kamloops had just 11 shots through the final 40 minutes of the game.
  • Rockets forward Brandon McMillan is presented with Taylor Made golf clubs before the game from GM Bruce Hamilton and the local Taylor Made rep. McMillan is given the gift for his efforts at the WJHC.