Ahh yes, the Kelowna Rockets... the team I've yet to see this season but probably heard about the most.
That's mainly due to my daily reading of Rockets broadcaster Regan Bartel and his blog over at reganbartel.blogspot.com . Regan is a friend of mine and does a great job following the team on the site and it's safe to say this is a team I won't have to do much research on.
I've seen and read it all... the battle for the #1 goaltending spot between Torrie Jung and Kris Westblom... everything that makes Regan go Hmm... and of course the big story these days - how the line of Colin Long, Jamie Benn and former Bronco Brady Leavold (below) are dominating lately.
The numbers are impressive:
- After combining for 14 points last night against the Portland Winterhawks, the trio has a total of 191 points!
- They are a combined +100 which shows they're putting up numbers even strength not only on the powerplay.
-They all have impressive point streaks including Leavold's current 13 gamer. In fact Leavold has had back-to-back five point games.
- Colin Long has a 10 point lead a top the WHL's scoring race with 79. Mark Santorelli of the Chilliwack Bruins is a distant 2nd with 69.
The best line in the WHL? The numbers easily back that up.
It's also translating into team success and why wouldn't it. Kelowna is 10-1 in their last 11 games and have climbed within four points of the Western Conference shared by Vancouver and Spokane.
So with the Broncos coming off a seven goal night in Moose Jaw and the Rockets a nine goal performance against Portland it's safe to say both these teams are confident in their goal scoring abilities heading into their one and only meeting of the season tomorrow night. The game could be a far cry from last year's scoreless draw through 65 minutes where a shootout gave the Broncos a 1-0 win in Kelowna. How quickly things change.
Of course the big story surrounding this game is the return of Brady Leavold to Swift Current - a place he called his WHL home for 133 games.
The outspoken Leavold at times had a love/hate relationship with his teammates and for that matter the city. Life in a smalltown isn't for everyone... and those who know the situation also know a change was for the best, for all parties involved. Don't think for one second Leavold would have put up these kind of numbers with the Broncos...don't even go there. It wouldn't have happened.
I used to call Brady "the cat" for his nine lives he had with this team A player who quit, was traded to Everett, didn't report and then ended up back in Swift Current for his 19 year-old season is a great example of that.
If Brady didn't have potential to put up some numbers in the WHL do you think Dean Chynoweth would have invested so much time and effort in him? He was given ample opportunity and he will be the first to tell you that I'm sure. It just wasn't working. You can't fit a square peg into a round hole. A change of scenery was necessary and it was granted...on several occasions.
So Brady is finally living up to what the Broncos thought he was capable of but just in another jersey. His match-up against the Broncos tomorrow night has many angles and games within a game.
Drama, suspense, a thriller, maybe even a horror .... take your pick. It'll be quite the show.