Jan 12, 2013 / 5:00 am
What a difference 12 months makes.
Last year at this time the Kelowna Fripp Warehousing Jr. Rockets were just trying to keep things together at the Kelowna International Major Midget Hockey Tournament.
They had lost all four games, lost both goaltenders are were in the process of being thumped 10-0 by the Notre Dame Hounds.
Fast forward one year and the Jr. Rockets are anything but congenial hosts.
They have won all four of their round robin games and got some revenge on their Saskatchewan rivals, beating the Hounds 4-1 Friday night.
The win guarantees Kelowna will grab one of four berths in Saturday's semi-finals.
"It feels good - I can't lie," understated a beaming Jr. Rockets head coach Eric Blais after the game.
"The kids were outstanding today. They paid the price in every aspect of the game - I'm so proud of them."
Kelowna hit the scoreboard first when Kevin Roth's wrist shot from the right point went past a maze of players and found the top left corner.
After the Hounds tied it with 50 seconds left in the first Kelowna retook the one goal lead 25 seconds later when Adam Beatty found a loose puck in the crease and poked it past Hounds goaltender Matt Kustra.
But, it was the play of Jr. Rockets netminder Chris Turner in the second that preserved the one goal lead.
Turner's best save came on an early Hounds power-play when he went post to post to get his pad on a bang-bang cross crease pass and shot.
"He's done that all year for us. The kid has been outstanding. He's on a real good run right now," says Blais.
"That's part of his job and our boys came back when they needed to. A power-play goal when we needed it. That third goal I thought really gave us some life back and when we got that power-play goal I saw them sag for two or three minutes."
Braeden Cyra and Tanner Campbell provided those third period insurance goals.
The Jr. Rockets close out round robin play Saturday morning at 10:30 against the Burlington Eagles.
Burlington comes into the game a point behind the Jr. Rockets with three wins and a shootout win.
Both teams are guaranteed a spot in the semi-final round, however, Blais says the game is important because the club still wants to finish first in their division.
In the other division, perennial contenders Thunder Bay lead the way with 10 points followed by Pursuit of Excellence with nine and Calgary Edge with eight.
Wins by Thunder Bay and POE Saturday morning will guarantee those clubs a spot in the semi-finals as well.
The semi-finals are set for Saturday night at the Rutland Arena at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The finals will be held Sunday at 12:30 at Memorial Arena.
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