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Healthy Rockets squash visiting Pats

JT Barnett made a triumphant return to the Kelowna Rockets line-up.

Barnett, injured on the first shift of the first game of the season, scored twice in a Rockets 5-1 thumping of the visiting Regina Pats Friday.

The 20-year-old forward scored both goals in the first period from almost the identical spot - about a foot or two from the edge of the left crease.

"That's my office. I've got to be right in front of the net. In Vancouver when I scored all my goals it was just right there," says Barnett, a former Giant, Blazer and Silvertip.

"Two or three feet from the net - not going through a bunch of guys dangling all the way down the ice. I'm just one of the guys that just stays right around the paint and I get a good amount of chances right there."

Barnett, who missed the last 36 games last season due to injury says there was some rust playing his first full game in nearly a year.

"I was a little nervous at the beginning - the first couple of shifts seemed so quick. I haven't seen that kind of speed from ice level for a while," admits Barnett.

"After the first couple of shifts, playing with (Fowlie and Chartier), they got the puck down low pretty quickly so it wasn't too hard to adjust."

Cole Martin also scored in the opening period with a wicked blast from the left point that deflected in off Regina forward Lane Schiedl's stick as the Rockets led 3-0 after 20 minutes.

The Pats had the better of the play over the middle 20 and were rewarded when Schiedl banged home a rebound eight minutes into the middle frame to cut the deficit to two.

Moments later, Jordon Cooke made a spectacular pad save off the stick of Morgan Klimchuk to swing the momentum back in the Rockets favour.

"That was a key to the game for sure. It becomes 3-2 then we are really on our heels if Jordon doesn't make that save," says Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.

"I would agree 100 per cent that was a key to tonight's game."

Ryan Olsen on a power-play and defenceman Madison Bowey closed out the scoring in the third.

Myles Bell had three assists against his former team.

"Myles has a good skill set. He wanted to have a good game against his former team so I was happy he was able to see his name on the scoreboard," says Huska.

"He's a hard guy to contain. He can shoot the puck well and he has that ability to make good passes too."

Two of Bell's assists came on backhand cross ice centering passes that Barnett and Bowey were able to convert.

Friday's win was the Rockets seventh in a row on home ice.

"We have to keep it going and get ready to do it again tomorrow (Saturday). Saskatoon had a big win tonight so they will be ready," added Huska.

"We'll have to make sure we're up for it as well."

The Blades edged Kamloops 3-2 Friday.

The Rockets are back within 12 points of division leading Kamloops with four games in hand.

Following Saturday's game with the Blades the Rockets will hit the road to close out a three game weekend in Everett Sunday.

Fans hoping to see former Rockets Shane McColgan and Jessey Astles in Saturday's game with Saskatoon will be disappointed.

Both McColgan and Astles are injured and will not play Saturday.

Unless the two teams reach the WHL final, chances are fans have seen the last of both McColgan and Astles on Prospera Place ice.

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