The Okanagan Rockets (5-3-0-0) return home for the first of three consecutive doubleheaders at the Capital News Centre, where they take on the Kootenay Ice (3-4-0-1).
Last Weekend: The Rockets earned a weekend split against the North Island Silvertips, losing 4-0 in Nanaimo, and winning a 7-5 decision in Lake Cowichan. Kootenay also earned a split, that at home against Valley West. The Hawks took the opener 4-3, before dropping the finale 5-4.
Head-to-Head: This marks this season’s first meeting between the two teams. Last October, the Rockets swept the Ice at a two game set in Trail, before the Ice returned the favour to the Rockets at the January Showcase in Richmond.
Historically Speaking: Dating back to 2006/07, the Rockets have won 36 of the 48 games played between the two teams, with exactly half of those victories on home ice.
Hot Start Wanted: Last weekend’s split with the Silvertips was actually the first one of the season, with the Rockets previously winning out or losing out their weekend doubleheaders. But if the Rockets want to come out of this weekend with a couple of W’s to add to the record, a key for them will be getting off on the right foot. Against North Island, the Rockets were kept off balance and shut out in the opener, before opening the floodgates for 7 the next morning. And the weekend before, the Rockets edged out South Island 4-3 on Saturday, before dropping 9 on the Royals in the finale. Overall, Okanagan has had a better offensive output in the second game of a weekend doubleheader in three of the four league matchups. A big statement on Saturday would go a long way against the Ice this weekend.
Players To Watch: The Ice have five players from last year’s squad suiting up again this year. A big name to watch up front is 17-year-old Keenan Crossman, who’s already put up 12 points in 8 games. Crossman had 14 points over 40 games last year. Another is Erik Delaire, who had 12 points as a 15-year-old last season. So far this year, he’s over halfway there, with 7 points in 8 games. 16-year-old rookie Booker Daniel is also in double digits, with 10 points in 8 games. On the back end, veteran Quaid Anderson and former Cariboo AP Brett Walchuk are leading the way with 5 points. The Rockets stack up similarly, with Brendan Boyle (12 points) and Mitchell Gove (10 points) leading the charge. But the team has also missed Ben King, Jack Finley, and Tanner Brown the last two weekends – the latter two have put up a point per game in their 4 so far, while King (7 pts) has nearly doubled that pace.
Between The Pipes: After splitting time with Jaysen MacLean last season, Jake Kemp is back with Kootenay this year, and has a 2-2 record with a sub-4 GAA. The other half of that tandem is former Blazer Xavier Cannon, who’s gotten starts in half of the team’s eight games. Cole Schwebius started both games last weekend with the absence of Roman Basran, but the plans for this weekend will call for a split with Basran’s return.
Lineup News: As mentioned, the Rockets gain Roman Basran back between the pipes, after he was up to dress with the Kelowna Rockets last weekend…The team will still be without the services of Nolan Corrado and Brandon Della Paolera…DP was hurt in the pre-season, while Corrado went down a couple weekends ago against the Giants.