All-Star Weekend Preview: Rockets vs. Thunderbirds

01/18/13 05:55:am

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The Okanagan Rockets (20-2-4) are back in action this weekend as they tangle with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds (4-22-2) at the Langley Events Centre.  The Rockets are coming of their 2nd and final bye weekend of the year, while the T-Birds are coming off a pair of weekend losses to the 1st place Vancouver NW Giants.

Tale of the Tape: The Rockets enter the weekend 6 points behind the Giants for top spot in the BCMML standing. After a Cariboo Cougars sweep last weekend, they pulled to within two points of the Rockets for 2nd place. Although the Rockets hold 2 games in hand over both the Giants and the Cougars, the margin for error is slim as the 3 clubs jockey for positioning atop the MML standings.

Shine Bright: The Rockets lead the MML in All-Star representation this season.  The Rockets will send 6 players, Brenden Mills, Alex Gran, Joe Gatenby, Branden Wagner, Josh Blanchard, and Brett Mennear. Head coach James Eccles will be behind the bench for Team Red, while general manager David Michaud is the All-Star Game Manager for 2nd time in 3 seasons.

No Fear of Committment: Rockets scoring sensation Josh Blanchard has committed to play for the defending Jr. A national champion Penticton Vees for the 2013-2014 season. 

On the Road Again: The Rockets have played 17 of their 20 home games already this season. That means 11 of the clubs final 14 games will be played away from the friendly confines of the Capital News Centre. The Rockets are 7-1-1 on the road this season.

Light the Lamp: The Rockets through 26 games this season have scored 136 times, or an average of 5.23 goals per game. That leads the BCMML. The Rockets are on pace to score 209 times this season. That would break the club record of 198 set back in 2006.

When We Saw You Last: The Rockets outscored the Thunderbirds15-3 in a two game set at the CNC back on Dec 1st and 2nd. The Rockets were 9-1 and 6-2 winners. The trio of Blanchard, Finlay, and Mennear torched the T-Birds for 8 goals and 9 assists in the 2 games.

Historically Speaking: The Rockets are 6-2-4 on the road since 2006 against the T-Birds and own an overall record of 15-6-5.

Streaking: The Rockets and T-Birds are clubs heading in opposite directions. The Rockets haven't suffred a loss since Nov 4th at the hands of the Cariboo Cougars, a streak of 14 consecutive games. The Thunderbirds meanwhile are mired in a 10 game losing streak and haven't won since a 5-3 win over the Kootenay Ice on Nov 24th. Fraser Valley has been outscored 55-19 over those 10 games.