The Okanagan Rockets are returning to the friendly confines of the Capital News Centre on the weekend, with a pair of games against the North Island Silvertips.
On Saturday afternoon, both teams will be participating in the league’s first annual Pink in the Rink initiative, which recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. That afternoon, all 16 teams will wear pink laces along with pink stick tape, and will be collecting donations at the door for local charities to pursue cancer research.
Last Weekend: The Rockets stretched their winning streak to seven games with a pair of wins in Trail over the Kootenay Ice. Meanwhile, the Tips and Vancouver NW Giants each picked up a win over the other.
Head-to-Head: The Rockets and Silvertips are meeting for the first time since last December, when the teams met in Nanaimo. That weekend, the Rockets got four goals from Lucas Cullen and had Cole Demers allow only one goal in the 6-0 and 8-1 wins.
Historically Speaking: Since the 2006/07 season, the Rockets have owned this matchup, winning 30 of the 40 games played between the two teams, with 16 of the victories coming in Kelowna.
No Captain, No Problem: If anyone was questioning the state of the Rockets offensive abilities without captain Eli Zummack in the lineup, those questions were swiftly answered with another 12-goal weekend outburst. With Zummack playing in Ontario at the World U17 Hockey Challenge, it was a perfect weekend to welcome back veteran Chase Stevenson from injury, who didn’t disappoint with three goals and two assists on the weekend. The same can be said for Jordan Robinson, who posted back-to-back two-assist performances. And while Zummack still rounds out the top five in league scoring even after being absent last weekend, linemate Dylan Prpich is closing in. He’s one point back of Zummack heading into the weekend. And a very deserved mention to defenceman Garret Watson, who scored his first of the year in last Sunday’s win.
Silvertips To Watch: Two players have taken the lead for the Silvertips so far this season, with Keaton Mastrodonato (’00) and Luciano Wilson (’01) each putting up seven points in the team’s first 10 games. The rookie Wilson played Bantam Prep in Shawnigan Lake last year, while Mastrodonato is in his second season with the Tips. He notched 23 points in 40 games last season. Meanwhile, rookie Rick Takeda has accumulated 45 penalty minutes in nine games this year, which is third-most in the entire league. Defence has been an adjustment for North Island, who essentially have an all-rookie corps this season. The most veteran face on the back end is Forrest Croden (’01), who played as an AP all of six times last season. In fact, Mastrodonato and forward Will Norman are the only two regular players back from last year.
Between The Pipes: Rockets’ tenders Owen Partrick and Nik Bregeda continue to split time in the crease, with each picking up a win in last weekend’s pair of games. Partrick’s 2.31 Goals Against Average is also good for seventh best in the BCMML. The Tips have also split up the minutes between their two goaltenders, with 17-year-olds Spencer Deakin and James Brendeland each putting up matching 1-4 records.
Lineup News: Eli Zummack will miss both games once again this weekend for the Hockey Canada tournament. He’s expected to return for the weekend of November 12/13.
With the departure of defenceman Riley Lambert earlier this year, the Rockets have since carried five defenceman, and have lost another this week with Jameson Murray’s call up to the Calgary Hitmen. That means West Kelowna’s Isaac Dutka will make his Rockets debut on the blueline this weekend. Dutka has developed in the West Kelowna Warriors Minor Hockey Association, which includes time playing with current Rockets Cody Schiavon and Nik Bregeda.