Oct 10, 2012 / 10:00 pm
The Kelowna Rockets probably deserved a better fate.
The Rockets played a solid 60 minutes but it was the visiting Spokane Chiefs who were able to capitalize on their opportunities, allowing them to skate out of Prospera Place with a 6-4 victory.
Against the run of the play late in the first period of a scoreless tie, Mitch Holmberg found a rebound on a Chiefs power-play and flipped a backhand over a prone Jordon Cooke.
A minute later while killing a penalty, Liam Stewart converted a pretty three way passing play on a Rockets power-play to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead.
Dylan Walchuk tipped home a shot early in the second to give the Chiefs a 3-0 lead before the Rockets started to chip away.
Ryan Olsen put a backhander past Eric Williams from a sharp angle on a Rockets power-play to cut the deficit to two.
Minutes later with the Rockets shorthanded, it was a spectacular save by Cooke off Brenden Kichton that turned the game back in the Rockets favour.
"I was in the box for that so he saved me there a bit," says forward Dylan McKinlay.
"That definitely gave us some energy. Cookie's been great all year and it's unfortunate we couldn't battle back the whole way and get if for him.
The Rockets did manage to get a goal from Colton Sissons late in the second and the equalizer from McKinlay midway through the third.
Just 67 seconds after McKinlay tied the game Michael Aviani found a rebound and squeezed it between Cooke and the post to put the Chiefs up for good.
"It's tough when you give those up. That's part of the learning process," says Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.
"We just have to stick with the game plan and make sure pucks keep getting in behind back ends."
Holmberg snapped home his second of the night off a faceoff for what turned out to be the game winner.
Olson brought the Rockets to within a goal with 1:49 left in regulation time and Cooke on the bench, however, the Chiefs were able to nail down the victory when Collin Valcourt hit the empty net in the final minute.
Myles Bell, who now leads the Western Hockey League in scoring with 14 points had three assists for the Rockets. McKinlay had a pair of goals to go along with his goal.
"I thought we played pretty well actually. We played pretty hard," says McKinlay.
"A couple of mental lapses in the third cost us a couple of goals but looking over the whole game I think we played pretty good."
The Rockets outshot the Chiefs 43-33 on the evening but were only able to beat Williams four times.
Forward Carter Rigby was lost to the Rockets after the first period with a shoulder injury. Huska said Rigby would be evaluated following the game.
Kelowna hits the road again for a pair of weekend games Friday and Saturday in Victoria.
They return home to host the Prince George Cougars next Thursday and Brandon a week Saturday.
Prior to Wednesday's game the Rockets traded forward Austin Ferguson to Red Deer in exchange for a conditional sixth round bantam draft pick.
Ferguson got caught up in the numbers game as the Rockets were carrying 15 forwards prior to the move.
Wednesday's trade brings the Rockets roster down to 25, a number they had to get down to by Thursday.
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