WHL Preview: Kelowna vs. Kamloops


Two of the top teams in the WHL’s Western Conference will face off in the lone WHL game this evening, as the Kelowna Rockets look to continue an impressive stretch as they visit the Kamloops Blazers at 7 p.m. PST.

Kelowna Rockets: 37-10-2-1, 77 pts/50 gp, 223 GF, 123 GA – 9-0-1-0 in last ten

Kamloops Blazers: 32-14-2-3, 69 pts/51 gp, 180 GF, 137 GA, 5-4-0-1 in last ten

The Rockets have not lost a game in regulation since December 16, going 14-0-1-0 in the fifteen games since then. Their sole loss came in overtime to the Vancouver Giants on January 12.

In that fifteen game stretch, Kelowna has outscored its opponent, 81-35. The team has earned at least a point in 23 of its last 25 games since November 23 and is four points shy of Portland for the top seed in the WHL.

A trio of Rockets players are averaging over a point-per-game this season, with left winger Myles Bell leading the way. Bell has 64 points (27-37) in 48 games and leads the Rockets in goals, assists and points.

Left winger Zach Franko has 55 points in 48 games, and center Colton Sissons is averaging 1.07 points/game with 43 points (17-26) in 40 games. Right winger Dylen McKinlay leads the team with a plus-40, while center Ryan Olsen has a team-leading 11 power-play goals on the year.

Jordon Cooke has appeared in 37 games for the Rockets, carrying a 2.42 GAA and .908 save percentage and stopping 869 of 957 shots faced. Jackson Whistle has played 14 games for the team, winning 10 of them and allowing 29 goals on 365 shots faced.

The Blazers have won three of their last four games, with the most recent win coming in a 4-1 victory over Prince Albert on January 25.

Four players on Kamloops are averaging a point or more per game, starting with center Colin Smith, who leads the team in goals, assists and points. Smith has 76 points (32-44) in 51 games played and also leads the Blazers with a plus-30 and 11 power play goals.

Right winger JC Lipon has 65 points (24-41) in 42 games, while left wingers Tim Bozon and Brendan Ranford have notched 64 and 52 points each, respectively.

Cole Cheveldave has a 2.62 GAA and .899 save percentage in 37 games with Kamloops, stopping 832 of 925 shots faced. Rookie Taran Kozun has appeared in 18 games, winning 10 of them and stopping 392 of 430 shots faced.

Tonight’s game is the fifth of ten meetings between the Blazers and the Rockets this season, with each team taking a pair of wins so far.

The season series opened with Kamloops capturing consecutive wins on September 21 and 22, with a 6-5 overtime victory followed by a 3-2 regulation win the next night. Kelowna came out on top with a 3-0 shutout victory on November 1 and a 7-3 victory on December 27.

Last season, the teams met eight times, with Kamloops winning five of the matchups and outscoring the Rockets 28-26.

After tonight, the teams meet for a home-and-home series on February 15 and 16, followed by a pair of games in Kamloops on March 3 and March 8. The season series concludes with one more game in Kelowna on March 9.