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WHL  

Rockets streak hits a dozen

The Kelowna Rockets will skate into 2018 atop the Western Hockey League's Western Conference standings.

The Rockets won their 12th straight on home ice Saturday, a thrilling 3-2 shootout victory over the visiting Victoria Royals.

The win moved the Rockets three points up on second place Victoria in the BC Division, and kept them a single point up on U.S. Division leading Everett.

Leif Mattson scored the game winner in the fifth round of the shootout, beating Royals netminder Griffin Outhouse five-hole.

Rockets' rookie netminder Roman Basran preserved the win when he stoned Victoria forward Eric Florchuk.

Basran gave up goals on Victoria's first two shootout attempts, but shut the door the rest of the way until Mattson was able to close it out.

"The first two I was kind of, oh no, I was kind of nervous," said Basran of his first Western Hockey League shootout.

"The last three I was like, I'm here to have fun, and I stopped all of them."

The game almost didn't the shootout.

Outhouse made arguably the best save of the season at Prospera Place in the dying moments.

With 56 seconds left in regulation, Kole Lind found Jack Cowell all alone at the edge of the crease. Cowell waited a split second before sending a shot toward the empty half of the net, only to watch as Outhouse dove across the crease and snagged the puck on the goal line with his outstretched glove.

Then, in overtime, Basran raced Matthew Phillips to a loose puck near the Kelowna blueline. Basran won the race to the puck, but lost it when he tried to make a pass.

Phillips took the puck and cut toward the net with defenceman James Hilsendager tending the cage. Hilsendager got his right leg on the shot with Basran scrambling back to the net.

"I really didn't think of any anything. I just skated out there and thought I could beat him.

"The puck was coming in pretty fast, then it hit the board where the players come off and it started to slow down. It was a scramble after that."

Head coach Jason Smith said he would have preferred to see Basran send the puck down the ice instead of trying to make a play, but gave his netminder credit for making some huge save to give the team a chance to win.

Mattson opened the scoring just 44 second in when he stole the puck deep in the Royals end, and, from the left circle, turned and fired a shot that seemed to catch Outhouse by surprise.

Kyle Topping scored the other Kelowna goal six minutes into the second on a power play. The goal snapped a 1-1 tie, and stood up until Phillips tied it with five minutes left in regulation time.

Kole Lind was held without a point Saturday, snapping his five game point streak.

Basran turned aside 36 shots to improve his record to 5-2. His 2.49 goals against average would be the second best in the league, however, he has not played enough minutes to qualify among the league leaders.

The Rockets hit the official halfway point of the season Saturday.

They will head into the second half and the new year 23-11-2-1.

The Rockets continue their mini three-game homestand Wednesday when the Tri-City Americans hit town.



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