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Rockets roll to 16th straight win

Myles Bell and Tyson Baillie each had two goals and two assists as the Kelowna Rockets made it their 16 straight win with a 7-2 thumping of the Portland Winterhawks Thursday.

It was the second straight lopsided win over the Winterhawks in three days in Portland coming on the heals of Tuesday's 9-3 thumping of the US Division leaders.

Jesse Lees, Carter Rigby and Ryan Olsen also tallied for the Rockets.

Unlike Tuesday when the Rockets jumped out to a 5-0 lead it was the Winterhawks who would strike first on a goal from Paul Bittner midway through the opening period.

"We knew they were going to come out hard, especially after Tuesday's game," assistant coach Kim Dillabaugh stated on the post-game radio broadcast.

"We got away from the little details that make us successful."

Twice the Winterhawks built up a one goal lead in the first and twice the Rockets battled back to even the score.

Dillabaugh says the team got back to playing Rocket hockey in the second period as they scored three times early to put the game away.

Bell with a pair of power-play goals and Rigby with the teams at even strength scored in a span of 2:59 early in the second to give the Rockets a three goal bulge.

"The second period was better," stated Dillabaugh. "Our third period was our best. We got timely goals tonight."

Rigby's goal at 4:27 chased Portland starter Brendan Burke from the net for the second consecutive game.

Baillie 27 seconds into the third and Olsen short handed rounded out the scoring in the third.

Olsen's goal was the Rockets seventh short handed marker of the season and third in two games.

While not at his best Jordon Cooke turned aside 29 shots to record his league leading 23rd win of the season.

Kelowna swept the four game season series with Portland after beating the Winterhawks 6-2 and 6-2 in Kelowna early in the season.

The Rockets have now won 16 straight on the road and 16 straight overall - both team records.

They will try to make it 17 in a row Friday when their road sojourn continues in Vancouver.

The Rockets, 32-3-0-2, will return home to host the Giants Saturday at Prospera Place.

Kelowna holds a 10 point bulge over the Victoria Royals in the BC Division with five games in hand. They are 10 clear of Portland.

Thursday's win comes on a day when the Rockets were anointed the CHL's top ranked team.

The Rockets surpassed the OHL leading Erie Otters (30-7-1-0) who have lost three of their last four games.

Portland is ranked fifth while Calgary sits seventh. The Victoria Royals are an honourable mention.

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