Rockets hit the road after freezing Ice
Myles Bell put an end to an eight game goal scoring drought with his 10th of the year giving the Kelowna Rockets a 2-1 victory over the Kootenay Ice Saturday in the Rockets final home game before Christmas.
Bell, who led the Rockets with 38 goals a season ago, hadn't scored since a Nov 16 tally against Medicine Hat.
"It's tough to go numerous games without a goal but I think when you are 22-3-0-2 it doesn't really matter a whole lot," stated Bell of his slump.
"It's pretty easy to stay up in the dressing room with everyone else contributing.
The winning goal came off the rush as Justin Kirkland broke down the right wing into the right circle and dropped a nice pass to Bell who snapped home a one timer past Kootenay netminder Mackenzie Skapski.
Bell also had a hand in the Rockets first goal.
He carried the puck into the Kootenay end and cut to the right through the slot. The back checker poked the puck off Bell's stick back into the slot where Carter Rigby got the tip of his stick on the puck just before the Ice defender and push it past Skapski.
Rigby's goal tied the game 1-1 and sent the Rockets on their way against a team that was playing it's fourth game in five nights and were down to just 11 forwards and five defencemen.
"As we got going in the game I thought we got better and harder to play against," says Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.
"It was a big goal Carter scored for sure but I look at the saves Jackson (Whistle) made. I think that was a difference a lot of the night because we gave them too many quality opportunities tonight."
Whistle turned aside 30 shots and was easily the best Rocket on the night.
He made several tough stops especially in the second period with the Rockets trailing 1-0.
With the Rockets up 2-1 late in the third the Ice crashed Whistle's crease looking for the equalizer but were unable to beat the Rockets netminder.
"It was really exciting," Whistle said of the late flurry.
"I try to stay as composed as I can when it is in front of me like that, try not to open up any holes and just keep it out."
Saturday's game, the Rockets sixth win in a row, was also their last one home ice before the Christmas break.
They hit the road at 6:30 Sunday for a six game prairie road trip which begins Tuesday in Swift Current.
"We are in a position now where we can end the first half on a pretty good note if we go out and have a good trip," says Huska.
"We are going to play in some very tough buildings and we'll try to make it a great experience for our players. It's minus 50 in some places with the wind chill right now but we can turn it into a pretty cool adventure and that's something we're going to try to do to keep them excited to play the last six games."
Minus 50? Cool adventure? Say what?
"A lot of these guys haven't seen it before so it will be good. It's funny how this road trip will bring a lot of goofy things," says Huska.
"There will be injuries and sickness and minus 50 degree weather. It's got the ability to bring a team together and that's what we're looking to do."
The Rockets hit the road winners of seven straight away from home.
They also remain first in the BC Division and second in the overall standings, two points behind the league leading Portland Winterhawks.
The Rockets hold a game in hand.
Following Tuesday's game in Swift Current, the Rockets make stops in Moose Jaw (Wednesday), Brandon (Friday), Regina (Saturday), Prince Albert (Sunday) and Saskatoon (Tuesday).
Defenceman Damon Severson will leave the team following Wednesday's game in Swift Current.
He will head to Toronto for the World Jr selection camp.
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