Last Weekend: The Rockets were on Vancouver Island, coming away with back-to-back wins against the South Island Royals. For the Blazers, they were in tough against the Vancouver NW Giants, losing both games.
Head-to-Head: The Rockets and Blazers clash for the first time since last season in February, when the Okanagan squad visited Kamloops for a weekend. The Rockets began the weekend with a 3-1 win, before finishing things off with an 8-1 blowout.
Historically Speaking: It’s really been completely lopsided in terms of past results between these two teams. Dating back to the 2006/07 season, the Rockets have a 34-1-3 all-time record against Thompson.
On the Flip Side: For the second straight weekend, the Rockets take on an opponent who’s looking up at them from the bottom of the standings. In fact, these two teams have been almost mirror images of each other so far this season. As the Rockets enter the weekend with a record of 14-2, the Blazers have had a 2-14 start to the season. Dating back to the opening weekend of the season, the Rockets picked up one of their only two losses against Fraser Valley, while the Blazers snagged one of their only two wins against North Island. And a likely goaltending matchup between the Rockets’ Owen Partrick and the Blazers’ Max Palaga will feature a record of 8-1 up against a record of 1-8.
Blazers To Watch: It’s no secret that goal scoring has been a struggle for the Blazers so far this season. The team has combined for 22 goals this year, which is the fewest in the league. To put that in perspective, it’s the same number of goals that Coleton Bilodeau and Max Kryski have combined for up to this point. Thompson is lead up front by 16-year-old Seiji Brown, who’s got eight points over the 16 games so far. Trailing him with six points apiece are 16-year-olds Jayden Castle and Trent Thompson, along with 17-year-old Matthew Facchinelli. The veterans in that core are Thompson and Facchinelli, with the latter playing his third season with the team, and also coming off a 32-point campaign. On the defence corps, Mitchell Fargey and Brendan Gairdner are the two returnees from last year’s team. Fargey is tied with a couple of teammates at two points apiece – the highest total from a defenceman on the roster.
Between The Pipes: As previously mentioned, Partrick and Palaga each come in with their opposite-to-each-other records. Nik Bregeda is also continuing to gain confidence in the Rockets’ crease. His win last weekend was his fifth on the year, and he’s now sporting a sub-3.00 goals against average. The other keeper in a Blazers uniform is 16-year-old Ethan Langenegger, who’s appeared in nine games this year, and recorded one of his team’s two wins.
Lineup News: The Rockets are a popular group again this weekend, with multiple players once again cutting their teeth with teams in the Junior circuit.
After being back from his Hockey Canada adventure for a couple weeks, captain Eli Zummack will not be in the lineup this weekend. He was called up to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs earlier this week, and will stick around with the big team for the weekend.
Another big hole for the Rockets will be on the blueline, as Seth Barton spends a weekend with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Barton’s value has been magnified after the team lost Jameson Murray, and he’s delivered with 22 points, which is good for third in team scoring.
As well, one injury to report, as Brandon Della Paolera is out with a concussion following last weekend’s games against the Royals.