Feb 28, 2013 / 10:00 pm
A masterpiece it certainly was not.
In fact, if Thursday's Rockets/T-Birds WHL tilt were a painting it would be closer to a dime-store knockoff than a Picasso or Rembrandt.
"It was a win, that's for sure," stated Rockets head coach Ryan Huska after his team's 4-1 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.
"I thought it was a sleepy night all the way through. There wasn't much push from our side and it felt like not much push from their side either."
Dylen McKinlay, by far the best player on the ice for both teams, had a pair of goals (22 and 23) and an assist to lead the way offensively for the Rockets.
He opened the scoring just 16 seconds in when a loose puck came to him in the slot and he wired a shot past a startled Danny Mumaugh between the Seattle pipes.
McKinlay would widen the gap to 3-0 with an individual shorthanded effort midway through the second.
"I just jumped on the ice and I think (Rourke) Chartier turned it over and it was bouncing. I kind of went for it and it bounced over a couple of sticks," says McKinlay of the goal.
"With the backhand I was trying to go low blocker and got it up and luckily it bounced in."
The goal came seconds after Chartier and T-Birds defenceman Jesse Forsberg collided at the Rockets blueline. Forsberg was wobbly as he made his way slowly to the Seattle bench when the puck found its way into the net.
Myles Bell with his team leading 35th scored earlier in the middle frame while Tyson Baillie with his 23rd sealed it into an empty net.
Rookie Rourke Chartier picked up a pair of helpers in the win.
Seth Swenson ruined Jordon Cooke's bid for his sixth shutout of the season midway through the final period.
The T-Birds had a couple of chances of the power-play after getting that goal but were unable to beat Cooke who made a couple of key saves, in particular robbing Roberts Lipsbergs with a quick pad save after Lipsbergs tried to bury a nifty cross-crease feed.
Cooke faced just 18 shots but was the busier of the two netminders in the final period when the T-Birds outshot Kelowna 8-6 and carried a good portion of the play.
"It probably wasn't our best game tonight. We're not really happy with how we played but I guess the big part is we got the points," says McKinlay.
"That was big especially with Kamloops and Portland losing last night."
Rookie Austin Glover nearly potted his first Western Hockey League goal in the second period.
After Mumaugh robbed Chartier from in close and the puck lying dangerously in the crease, Glover dove out head first and stick first to try and poke the loose puck into the empty net.
Shea Theodore diving cross crease at the same time just beat Glover to the puck knocking it harmlessly past the far post.
Thursday's win moves the Rockets seven points up on Kamloops in the fight for top spot in the BC Division.
Both teams have eight games remaining including three head-to-head match-ups.
The first of those is Sunday night in Kamloops, however, the Rockets will have to deal with the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes first on Saturday night.
McKinlay agreed it will be hard not to look ahead to Sunday but admits the team learned a valuable lesson last month about the dangers of overlooking opponents.
"I think we learned not to do that with the Portland series so really we have to focus on Lethbridge as best we can."
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