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Jr. Rockets open tourney in style

A year ago, the Kelowna Fripp Warehousing Jr. Rockets allowed three goals in the final 69 seconds of their opening game of the Daily Courier Kelowna International Midget Hockey Tournament to eventual champion Wenatchee.

That meltdown snowballed as the hosts went winless in five games.

The same fate would not befall them this year.

The hosts built up an early three goal lead and cruised the rest of the way in a convincing 3-0 win over the Compete Hockey Academy Rams out of Boise, Idaho.

"I was happy for about two-and-a-half periods. I thought we took the last half of the third period off but that's understandable - they (Boise) weren't pushing back very much," says Kelowna head coach Eric Blais.

"The boys felt we were in control. But, I was really happy with our first two periods. I thought we played really well, had lots of jump and lots of compete."

Kelowna put the game away with a pair of first period power-play goals from Gage Colpron and Kobe Oishi.

An unassisted marker from Brandon Barnes three minutes into the second period with the teams playing four-on-four seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the visitors.

They really didn't test Kelowna netminder Chris Turner the rest of the way. Turner turned aside about a dozen shots for the shutout.

Blais agreed the early power-play goals were the key.

"It's been good for us all year when we needed it and we needed it at that point. Once we got up 3-0 we started getting sloppy a bit and that's fine," says Blais of the power-play.

"I know when pressure comes and we need a goal they'll be there."

Kelowna takes on Semiamoo from White Rock and Okanagan Hockey Academy out of Penticton Thursday.

In other opening day games Wednesday Burlington dumped the Notre Dame Hounds 6-2, Semiamoo edged Okanagan Hockey Academy 4-3, Calgary Edge nipped Thunder Bay 3-2 in overtime while Pursuit of Excellence beat defending champion Wenatchee 5-2.

An early game between Surrey and Ridge Meadows was postponed after both clubs were delayed by highway closures on the Coquihalla.

The game will be made up Friday evening in Rutland.

The tournament continues with round robin games Thursday, Friday and Saturday at both Rutland and Memorial Arenas.

The semi-finals are Saturday night at Rutland Arena with the final Sunday at 12:30 at Memorial Arena.

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