The Okanagan Rockets (21-8-3) face their toughest test of the season to date, taking on the 1st place Valley West Hawks (25-6-1) in a big weekend series from the Lower Mainland.
Last Weekend: The Rockets played a 3-in-3 last weekend starting on Friday night with a 4-0 shutout win over the South Island Royals and would earn back-to-back shutouts with a 4-0 win the next night against the Greater Vancouver Canadians. Okanagan finished the weekend earning 5 of a possible 6 points with a 3-3 tie on Sunday morning versus GVC. The Hawks earned a weekend sweep in a home-and-home series against the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. VW took 5-2 and 6-1 finals to extend their win streak to five games.
When We Saw You Last: The Rockets and Hawks met up back in the first weekend of November with both teams earning a win. The Rockets prevailed on Saturday’s game with a 6-4 victory while the Hawks closed out the weekend set with a power play-aided 7-2 defeat of the Rockets in Kelowna at the Capital News Centre.
Something’s Got To Give: This weekend’s matchup pins the #1 offence (Hawks) versus the #1 defense (Rockets) in the BCMML. The Hawks have scored 162 goals in the 32 games they have played this season (an average of 5.07 goals per game). The Rockets, on the other hand, have been fantastic defensively, allowing just 63 goals against in 32 games this season, an average of 1.96 goals against per game.
Balanced Attack: It was a strong weekend for secondary scoring for the Rockets, getting first MML goals from Seth Barton and Hayden Courtney over the three games played just 5 days ago. With both of them scoring, everyone Okanagan Rocket has now found the back of the net this season, a feat which the Rockets as a team have been able to achieve for now three straight seasons.
Top Of The Crop: The Hawks, as mentioned earlier, boast a strong offense, and it shows in the Top 10 of scoring in the league. Valley West has 5 of the top 10 players in league scoring, including Ben Evanish (32-22-54), who leads the league in goals and sits 2nd in BCMML scoring.
Dem-sational: Cole Demers was at it again last weekend and with three games on his plate, Cole finished with two shutouts and just three goals against over the whole weekend. He comes into this weekend set leading the MML in wins with 17, four ahead of Hawks net minders Nic Tallrico and Reece Klassen, and also leads the league in goals against average with a measly 1.70 GAA in 23 games this season.
Lineup News: The Rockets will continue to play shorthanded this weekend as they will miss a pair of talented forwards. Chase Stevenson continues to miss time with an upper body injury and Lucas Cullen will also be out of action this weekend with an upper body injury of his own. Liam Hughes is questionable for the two-game set while Myles Mattila will miss Saturday’s game due to a special cause as he is invited to the Vancouver Canucks Mental Health Awareness Night when they the Calgary Flames.
Historically Speaking: The Rockets hold a 26-9-3 record against the Hawks since the 2006/07 season, while amassing a 9-5-2 record on the road against Valley West in that span.