Oct 20, 2012 / 10:00 pm
The Kelowna Rockets rode a pair of shorthanded goals and timely goaltending from Jordon Cooke in doubling the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings 4-2 Saturday at Prospera Place.
The Rockets now head out on a tough four game Alberta road trip winning two straight on home ice - allowing just two goals in the process.
Rockets head coach Ryan Huska says the key to Saturday's win was getting off to a good start in the opening period.
"I felt there was a bit of time in the second period where we got on our heels a little bit and quit doing what we did in the first period," says Huska.
"We have to learn from that. We have to make sure we focus on putting teams away. When you are up 2-0 you want to make sure you get that next goal to make it difficult for them to come back whether it's the second period or late in the first."
As for the shorthanded goals, giving the Rockets three in two games, Huska says, any time you can kill off penalties and score some shorthanded goals to boot, it's a good thing.
He adds the Rockets didn't really do anything different when shorthanded Saturday.
"They have two guys on their back end that are good offensive players and both shoot the puck very well so we asked our forwards to stay tighter to them," says Huska.
"That might be a reason why we got some chances."
Colton Hefley and Tyson Baillie, two players who have struggled to hit the scoresheet early in the season staked the Rockets to a 2-0 first period lead.
Hefley converted a two-on-one with Filip Vasko with the Rockets shorthanded to open up the scoring.
Vasko got to a loose puck along the boards, chipped it off the wall past the defender before sending a perfect saucer pass Hefley was able to convert.
Baillie scored his third seven minutes later when he pounced on a juicy rebound and beat Corbin Boes who was down and out.
Dylen McKinlay increased the margin to 3-0 in the opening minute of the third when his shot from the top of the left circle landed just inside the bar past Boes.
"I didn't know it was in. I had a feeling when I saw the referee pointing and celebrated a bit," says McKinlay of the goal.
"It was a good play by Sis (Colton Sissons) on the wall. I saw some open ice and the puck was heading there so I just put it on net."
The play had to be reviewed before it was deemed a good goal.
Up 3-1 early in the third Zach Franko resorted the three goal lead with the prettiest goal fans have seen at home so far this season.
Franko gained the Wheat Kings blueline with speed and, with two defencemen in his face pushed the puck between the legs of the left defenceman, skated between the two, grabbed the puck again and beat Boes high stick side.
While Huska admits the goal by Franko was a key goal a play at the other end was just as big - maybe bigger.
"I think the save with two minutes to go that Jordon made on the breakaway was maybe bigger. It was 4-2 and if they score on that breakaway all of a sudden there's two minutes to go and we're probably more so on our heels," says Huska.
Cooke made 27 saves on the night, none bigger than that one.
The Rockets have allowed just six goals in their last four games, three of those wins.
Huska says the defensive side of his team's game is starting to get to where he wants it to be.
"You notice we make more plays in our own zone now and our D-men have more composure than they have had in the past," says Huska.
"We're asking them not to throw pucks away and to make more direct passes. Because of that we're not spending as much time there as in the past. That's something we have to continue to get better at."
The Rockets, above .500 (6-5-1-0) for the first time this season hit the road Monday for that four game Alberta road swing with stops in Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary.
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