The Okanagan Rockets (14-7-1) head back home after two weeks on the road to face off against the only team they haven’t beaten this season, the South Island Royals (10-8-4).
Last Weekend: The Rockets completed a perfect weekend in Nanaimo with large victories over the North Island Silvertips. OK picked up a 6-0 shutout win on Saturday and collect eight goals in a 8-1 win Sunday morning to finish the season sweep. South Island is coming off of a pair of ties against the Vancouver North East Chiefs in Coquitlam with 4-4 and 1-1 scores on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
When We Saw You Last: The Rockets and Royals have met once this season in early October with South Island posting a pair of wins in Victoria. The Royals got goals from four different players in a 4-1 win Saturday afternoon while a pair of goals from defensemen Sean Strange, including the game winner in the 3rd period, gave the home side a 3-2 victory and the weekend sweep over the Rockets.
Home Sweet Home: The Rockets will play their only weekend set at CNC until January 30th when they host South Island this weekend. OK is coming off a four game road trip, a trip which saw them go 3-1-0 in the process, and will again be on the road for three straight weekends following this set of games and the Christmas break.
Man Of The Month: Matt Kowalski was announce on Wednesday as the BCMML’s Player Of The Month for the month of November. Kowalski, who put up points in every one of the seven games the Rockets played in the month and compiled a total of 13 points in that span, sits atop the BCMML scoring race with 41 points, three up on the North West Giants forward Josh Latta.
PP + PK = Red Hot: Okanagan’s special teams play as of late can be described as “fire-emoji hot” as both the power play and penalty kill were excellent over the four games away from the Capital News Centre. The Rockets PP went 9/22 over that four games stretch (a 41% clip) and has scored in three straight games while the PK has been even better, going 17/19 on the trip to both Prince George and Nanaimo.
Missing Pieces: The Rockets will be missing five regulars out of their lineup when they hit the ice on Saturday afternoon due to various reasons. Matt Kowalski, who is in Nanaimo with the Clippers on Friday night and not believed to make it in time for the game and Zach Erhardt (serving the 2nd of a 2-game suspension) will miss Saturday but be back for Sunday’s game. Chase Stevenson, Spencer Hora and Myles Mattila will be out for the entire weekend due to injuries.
Royal Pains: South Island is currently in the midst of a seven game road trip and are winless in their last four games with an 0-2-2 record, losing twice badly to the North West Giants before tying both games against the NE Chiefs last weekend. The Royals have struggled to keep the puck out of their net, posting 73 goals against, which is 4th worst in the league.
Historically Speaking: The Rockets hold an excellent 21-7-10 record against the Royals/Thunderbirds club since 2006/07 (changing their name from T-Birds to Royals back in the 2012/13 season). Okanagan boasts a 12-1-5 at CNC in that time against the Royals/T-Birds.