The Okanagan Rockets (18-9-3-2) will try to leapfrog the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds for third place in the league, during a tough weekend road swing against the first place Valley West Hawks.
Last Weekend: The Rockets suffered their first loss of the 2018 calendar year, in the second half of a road trip against the Greater Vancouver Canadians by a 4-3 score in overtime. However, Okanagan grabbed a 6-3 win in the opener, to take 3 of 4 points on the weekend
Head-to-Head: The Rockets and Hawks met back at the Capital News Centre in November, in a thoroughly entertaining weekend that saw the Rockets win the opener 2-1, and battle to a 5-5 tie in the rematch.
Historically Speaking: Since the 2006/07 season, the Rockets have a record of of 31-11-4 against the Hawks.
Keeping it rolling: Are the Rockets peaking at just the right time? While most would agree that the perfect time for peak play is the playoffs, the Rockets are priming themselves to enter the postseason in great position, by winning seven out of eight games since the calendar flipped, and stockpiling 15 of a 16 possible points. The big reality now is that this week and next could potentially decide third place in the league. With the Rockets trailing the TBirds by just 3 points, Fraser Valley has games against Cariboo this week, before invading the CNC for a huge weekend in a week's time. But with regulars out of the lineup for a tough weekend in the Lower Mainland, they'll have to dig deep to come away with another winning weekend.
Hawks To Watch: A look at the league's top scorers will tell you much of what you need to know, with three of the MML's top four scorers wearing Hawks colours. Veteran Nolan Krogfoss leads the way, with 30 goals and 33 assists in 30 games. Max Mohagen is third in the league with 56 points in as many games, while 15-year-old phenom Justin Sourdif has 54 points in 27 games. That's massive production considering the team has had to deal with the mid season departure of Arshdeep Bains, who was called up to the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. 17-year-old defencemen Kabir Gill and Trevor Isaksson have also been rocks, as both have cracked the 20 point plateau.
Between The Pipes: Hawks goaltender Josh Dias has been a tough nut to crack, with only one loss on his record in 22 appearances this year. Of course, that came back in a Remembrance Day loss to the Rockets. Cole Schwebius got the day off in the team's OT loss to GVC last week, but will be back ready to rock on the weekend. He's already played in 25 games, with a sub-3 GAA of 2.94.
Lineup News: Rockets captain Mitchell Gove will miss his third straight weekend with a lower body injury, which is a major subtraction in multiple areas for the Rockets...also joining him out for this week is forward Nolan Corrado and d-man Palmer Jenkins, both of whom have had to deal with injuries previously this year...an addition this week is leading scorer Brendan Boyle, who made his WHL debut with the PG Cougars last week...though the team lost 4-0 to Red Deer on Family Day, Boyle was named as the game's third star, a fantastic debut weekend...by the way, Boyle's 35 points in 29 games give him that scoring edge with the Rockets....trailing number 8 is Rayman Bassi, who's been as hot as anyone recently, which showed when he was named January's player of the month...after having a nine game point streak snapped in early February, he was back at it with 4 points last weekend against GVC.