Last Weekend: The Rockets were in Vancouver two games against the Vancouver NE Chiefs, and split the weekend with a 5-2 loss and a 4-3 win. The Royals earned a tie against the Vancouver NW Giants in the first game, before losing an ugly affair 12-0 on the Sunday.
Head-to-Head: The Rockets and Royals are meeting for the first time since January 29, when the teams played a one game makeup of a match postponed earlier in the season. The Rockets won it 4-0, but played to a tie and two losses in three other games last season.
Historically Speaking: Dating back to the 2006/07 season (when the Royals were the T-Birds), the Rockets have a 22-7-11 all-time record against them. Eight of 22 wins have come on the road.
Tale of Two Teams: On paper, the weekend’s matchup could be described as lopsided. On one hand, the Rockets sit with 12 wins in 14 games, fresh off a 10 game winning streak. Heading into this weekend, the Okanagan squad is just one point behind the Cariboo Cougars for top spot in the league. Over those ten wins, the Rockets outscored opponents by a 54-26 mark, and the 54 goals represent twice as many as the entire Royals team has scored all season.
For the South Island squad, their only win came over a month ago, when they beat the Thompson Blazers 6-1 on October 14. However, the Royals weren’t far off from being spoilers when they visited the Cougars in Prince George back in October. That weekend was far from a blowout, as the Cougars won on a couple of three-goal victories.
Royals To Watch: The obvious standout up front for the Royals has been 17-year-old Evan Easton, who’s managed 10 points over 14 games so far. Kamloops Blazers draft pick Sean Strange has also helped on the blue line, with eight points in those 14 games.
Needless to say, the Royals have a young forward core, with Easton as the only one who was alive in the 90’s. 16-year-old returnee Matt Berryman has seven points so far, after putting up 11 over all of last year. And ’99 d-man Alexander Benger has been a quality veteran presence, with six points so far.
Between The Pipes: Last weekend once again saw each Rockets goalie get into action, with Owen Partrick taking the loss and Nik Bregeda grabbing a win. Bregeda has now picked up a win in three straight weekends, and has five on the year. Partrick still sits in a tie for the league lead with seven wins – he’s in that tie with Kolby Matthews, who was in net for the Chiefs in last Saturday’s game.
For the Royals, 16-year-old Connor Cheyne has emerged as the starter, and has seen action in 11 games so far, including the win over the Blazers. His backup is 17-year-old Luke Sheldrake.
Lineup News: Both Robinson and Kryski will be getting action with the West Kelowna Warriors this weekend. Kryski will be returning to the Rockets on Saturday; however, Robinson will remain for the weekend getting a taste of BCHL action.
Palmer Jenkins will also be returning to the lineup, this time as a full roster member after being sidelined with a concussion two weeks ago.
Last weekend’s overtime hero Rayman Bassi has also been named as an Affiliate Player for the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs, which was announced this week.
Lastly, a three point weekend from Coleton Bilodeau pushed him into the team lead in scoring, with 23 points in 14 games – that’s good for a tie for fourth in league scoring. And he’s only three points back of the league leaders – both Valley West’s Tyler Ho and GV’s Chris Douglas have notched 26 points.