Rockets pull rabbit out of hat vs. Giants
Damon Severson scored 2:36 into overtime Tuesday lifting the Kelowna Rockets to a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in a game the home side was fortunate to win.
Severson, named to Canada's World Junior selection camp this week showed some of the offensive potential that caught the eye of national teams scouts in scoring the game winner.
He picked up a loose puck along the right boards, skated unimpeded to the net and out waited Jared Rathjen before sliding a backhand past the fallen Vancouver netminder.
The goal capped a wild and wooly final five minutes in which the teams combined for three goals and thrilled what was left of the crowd with 1:43 of three-on-three to start overtime.
The game appeared headed to overtime with the teams tied 2-2 and the game heading into the final minute.
Vancouver sent many of the 4,500 in attendance to the exits with 38 seconds left in regulation time when rookie Alec Baer buried a wrist shot behind Jordon Cooke from about 15 feet directly in front of the Rockets goaltender.
Those that remained saw a barn burner of a finish.
After calling a timeout and with Cooke on the bench for an extra attacker, the Rockets won the faceoff, pushed the puck into the Vancouver end and set up Madison Bowey for a hard blast from the point.
Rathjen stopped the initial shot and got a pad on Tyson Baillie's rebound, however, Ryan Olsen got two whacks at the loose puck before sliding the second under his pad for the game tying goal.
Baillie in the second and Colton Heffley during a frantic third scored the other goals for the Rockets. Cain Franson scored the other two goals for Vancouver in the middle frame.
As they did in a pair of 3-2 wins over the Blazers last week the Rockets seemed uninspired and disinterested against the Giants for the first 40 minutes.
"We didn't like our effort against Kamloops in those two back-to-back games and we didn't like the effort in the first two periods tonight," says Baillie.
"But, we found a way to win in the third and that's what good teams do, they find a way to win."
Baillie says not much was said between periods to get the team fired up.
"We were pretty quiet but then Myles Bell actually stepped up and said we knew what we had to do to Husk (coach Ryan Huska) and we went out and did it."
Huska credited the back end for sparking the third period rally.
"I thought out third period was good. That's one period where I thought we played with some urgency and pace and a lot of that came from our back end," says Huska.
"They started pinching and being more aggressive. It was pretty quiet up to that point.
While the Rockets have struggled with their effort against the Giants and Blazers over the last three games Huska says there's no need to panic.
"We're talking three games here. It's 25 games in, we're now at 20 wins," says Huska.
"There's no magic formula. Over the course of the regular season you're going to have your ups and downs and the challenge is to make sure they stay relatively smooth where you don't have those dips for too long."
Huska says the team needs more from the forwards - more urgency and physicality. He says that started happening more in the third period.
The teams were also forced to play three-on-three for 1:43 to start overtime.
Huska for one liked what he saw and thinks it's a better way to settle things in overtime than a shootout.
The Rockets, 20-3-0-2 remain third in the Western Conference, three points in back of Everett and four behind the Portland Winter Hawks.
Kelowna hold four games in hand on both.
The Rockets will need to amp up their game considerably when the weekend rolls around if they are going to have any success.
The high flying Everett Silvertips come to town Friday while Kootenay make their only trip into Kelowna Saturday.
"We got away with these three wins but Everett is a really good team - one of the best teams in the league so we're going to have to come prepared," says Baillie.
"Our work ethic and our focus needs to be better. I don't think our focus has been the best the past three games."
Friday night is the Rockets first ever 'Teddy Bear Toss' night.
Fans are encouraged to bring a wrapped teddy bear to the game and toss them onto the ice when the Rockets score their first goal of the game.
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