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WHL  

Rockets deserve better fate

Lassi Thomson took one on the lip, while the rest of his teammates took one on the chin.

The Kelowna Rockets hung with the WHL's Western Conference leading Everett Silvertips stride for stride, but couldn't get a goal, or a call, when they needed it in a 3-1 loss Friday at Prospera Place.

Bryce Kildopp scored twice for the Silvertips, including the insurance goal into an empty net. Gianni Fairbrother also scored, while Kyle Topping netted the lone Kelowna goal.

The Rockets were the better team for at least half the game Friday and, on game flow, probably deserved a better fate.

"I thought we outplayed them the first half of the game. We could have easily been up two or three goals in the first," said head coach Adam Foote.

"We had a fumble on our PK, and they were able to keep it in ... but that happens. We missed a box-out on the second goal, and they go to the net with that tenacious effort.

"I really liked what we did. We played with them."

Topping opened the scoring on a Kelowna power play, pulling the trigger on a one-timer following a pretty three-way passing play.

Fairbrother evened the score with a blast from the left point on Everett's first power play after the Rockets failed to clear the zone.

Late in the first, the Rockets were handed a great opportunity to snap the tie when Kindopp got his stick up on Thomson, splitting the rookie's lip and sending him to the room for repairs.

"He got stitches in the lip, but he's good. It's the second time this year it's happened to him," said Foote of the injury.

Thomson did return, sporting a full cage partway through the second.

But, with Thomson still in the room, the power play was unable to capitalize.

Minutes later, rookie Ethan Ernst missed a great chance at one end, and the Tips came back the other way in what turned out to be the game winner as Kindopp banged home a rebound after Roman Basran was unable to corral the original shot.

The Rockets thought they had scored the equalizer on a power play midway through the third when Leif Mattson appeared to bang the puck under a prone Palaga.

Officials waived off the goal immediately, saying he was pushed into the net with the puck. However, replays clearly showed the puck was jammed under Palaga, but he was not shoved toward the net.

Things don't get any easier for the Rockets, who welcome the BC Division leading Vancouver Giants to Prospera Place Saturday. Then, it's off to Victoria for back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday.

It's a key stretch for the Rockets, who remain in a dogfight with Kamloops and Seattle for the final two playoff spots in the west.

"Everyone in the room knows every point is huge for us. We'll come back tomorrow and, hopefully, we can get the two points," said defenceman Kaeden Korczak.



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