Last weekend: The Rockets were on the road at the league showcase in Richmond. Because it was the Rockets’ bye week in league play, Okanagan played the Everett Jr. Silvertips in a couple of exhibition games, which Everett won by scores of 4-3 and 5-3. The Giants were up against the South Island Royals, and rolled to victories of 5-4 and 10-1.
Head-to-Head: This weekend will be the first matchup between the two teams since last March, when the Giants upset the Rockets and swept them out of the first round of the playoffs. Any piece of a silver lining for the Rockets could be found in the fact they won all four regular season matchups.
Historically Speaking: Despite the Rockets regular season success against Vancouver NW last year, the Giants are one of the few teams to have the Rockets number all-time. Dating back to the 06/07 campaign, the Giants have an all-time record of 27-11-8 against Okanagan.
60 Minute Effort: Though the Rockets lost a couple of games last weekend – things might have been different, if hockey were a 40 minute game. On Friday, the Rockets dug themselves into a 3-0 hole in the first period, before outscoring Everett 3-1 over the final two periods. On Saturday, Okanagan took a 3-1 lead into the second, before allowing three goals in that period en route to a 5-3 loss. While this trend is hardly unique to the Rockets, and isn’t hugely surprising at the beginning of a season with plenty of young rookies, it’s one the Rockets will be working on snuffing out as they carry on in the MML season.
Hot Hands: After missing the opening weekend of the regular season, veteran Will Reimer had a multi-point weekend, including a couple of goals. If there’s anything unfortunate about that, it’s that this past weekend’s stats didn’t count on anyone’s official totals, because the games were exhibition. Nonetheless, there were other solid performances to highlight. After two goals last weekend, Brendan Boyle added another pair on Saturday. Other multi-point performances came from Nolan Corrado and Jack Finley, while defenceman Tanner Brown scored for the second straight weekend.
Notable Giants: Last year’s leading scorer Liam Kindree is enjoying his first full WHL season with the Kelowna Rockets this season. Also departed are players like Hudson Schandor (Salmon Arm), Trevor Longo (Medicine Hat), and Donovan Buskey (Spokane). A key returner for the Giants this year is Matteo Pecchia, who finished fourth in team scoring last year with 28 points in 40 games, and is a point-per-game this year. Another two up front are Dom Davis and Marcus Van Der Made, who had 20 and 19 points through 38 games last year. Davis has started to take off this year, with five points in the first four games. On defence, the only veteran is Jimmy Darby, who played in all but 3 games last year. Watch out for both him and Jason Chu, with the latter having 8 points in four games.
Between the Pipes: The Rockets duo of Cole Schwebius and Roman Basran split last weekend’s action once again, with Basran starting Friday and Schwebius playing Saturday. There’s no reason to expect a similar arrangement won’t be made for this weekend’s games. On the Giants side, a big acquisition has been Nik Hoem, who joined the team after spending last season with the GV Canadians. Hoem has started all four games so far this season. His backup is Jack Ford (’01), who played Midget AA at Notre Dame in Saskatchewan last year.
Lineup News: The Rockets are getting a huge boost in the lineup this weekend , with the return of veteran forward Rayman Bassi…Bassi finished third in team scoring last year, with 49 points in 40 games, and had been trying to make the Regina Pats roster…As a corresponding roster move, the team will drop forward Blain Worthing, though Worthing will be in the Rockets lineup as an Affiliate Player this weekend…The team was in need of an AP up front, with veteran forward Brandon Della Paolera still injured… A final roster move made by the team this week was the addition of ’01 defenceman Austin Herron, who will replace Myles Whiteside.