Last Weekend: The Rockets hit the road for a pair of games against the Valley West Hawks, and knocked off the home side by 4-3 and 3-2 scores in the two games. The Chiefs are also coming off a successful weekend, with two wins against the Vancouver NW Giants under their belt.
Head-to-Head: The Rockets and Chiefs are meeting for the first time since last January at the league’s showcase in Richmond. The Rockets took down Northeast Vancouver with a 2-1 win on the Saturday, and a 4-2 victory in the Sunday finale. The teams also met in Kelowna for the Rockets’ home opening weekend last year, which also featured back-to-back Rockets victories.
Historically Speaking: Dating back to the 2006/07 season, the Rockets have a 21-13-6 all-time record against the Chiefs. Nine of those wins have come on the road.
New Places, New Faces: For the second time in less than three weeks, the Rockets lost a player to Junior hockey, with Chase Stevenson heading up to the Jr. A West Kelowna Warriors. Stevenson’s veteran presence is tough to lose for the Rockets, but his numbers speak for themselves, as he was on a two point-per-game tear heading into his call-up. As a result, the Rockets have made a couple moves to finalize replacements for the roster spots of Stevenson and departed defenceman Jameson Murray. After seeing some action last weekend against the Hawks, 16-year-old Palmer Jenkins will join Okanagan’s defence corps, making the move up from the Midget Tier One program. Also joining the squad is 15-year-old forward Will Reimer, who was an Affiliate Player with the Rockets last season.
Chiefs To Watch: The Chiefs lead in scoring belongs to a rookie, in 15-year-old Ethan Leyh. Through eight games this season, he’s notched nine goals and 15 points. Though Leyh was taken by Spokane in the WHL’s Bantam draft this year, he’s decided instead to commit to the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA’s Big Ten conference. 16-year-old Haydn Delorme has also put up an impressive 14 points through eight games, and has been an AP for the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. He was also snagged in last year’s Bantam draft – by the Vancouver Giants in the ninth round. 17-year-old Liam Evenson has been a point-per-game player through 12 GP this year, in his second full season with the team. Fellow returnee Logan Bromhead has also had a strong start. On defence, the team is led by a pair of 17-year-old veterans. Ian MacDonald and Jonny Sheardown each have 9 points through 12 games, and are each wearing Chiefs colours for a second season.
Between The Pipes: Both Rockets’ tenders were pressed into action last weekend, with Owen Partrick and Nik Bregeda each picking up wins. Bregeda’s fourth win came with a nice 28-save performance on Sunday, while Partrick needed 21 saves for win number seven. For the Chiefs, 17-year-old Kolby Matthews is the incumbent, and has been given the majority of the starts this season. So far, he’s got a record of 6-2, featuring a 2.39 GAA. His backup is Jonathan Holloway, who’s appeared in four games this year, and sports a 2.45 GAA.
Lineup News: The Rockets will have captain Eli Zummack back in the lineup this weekend, after missing the past six games at Hockey Canada’s World U-17 Hockey Challenge. It was an impressive showing for Zummack and the rest of Team Canada Black, who won a silver medal in the tournament.
As previously mentioned, the Rockets will welcome defenceman Palmer Jenkins back on a permanent basis this weekend, along with newest Rocket Will Reimer.
The Rockets will also welcome back Wyatt Head and Jordan Robinson this weekend – both were playing up with the West Kelowna Warriors last week.
Meantime, defenceman Cody Schiavon will be a game time decision against the Chiefs. He was injured last Saturday against the Hawks.