Kelowna teams open tourney strong
Both the host Kelowna Fripp Warehousing Jr Rockets and major midget Okanagan Rockets got off to winning starts on day one of the 35th Kelowna International Major Midget Hockey Tournament.
The Jr. Rockets got two goals from Jordan Bautista in a convincing 5-2 win over the tough Ridge Meadows Ramblers.
Bautista's linemate Braden Eliuk assisted on three goals in the win.
The host squad started slowly and found themselves down 1-0 before finding their stride.
Bautista scored both his goals in a six minute span in the latter half of the first giving his club a 2-1 lead - a lead they would never relinquish.
"I thought we started a little slow. I don't think we were ready for that pace," says winning head coach Eric Blais.
"In our league we haven't seen teams like that recently so it took us a while to get our feet under us. Then I thought we played really well in the second half of the game."
Leading 4-2 after two the Jr Rockets blanketed the visitors in the third period.
Ridge Meadows never threatened to climb back into the contest picking up just one shot over the final 20 minutes.
Steven Fiust shorthanded late in the second, Clay Stephens and Brandon Barnes into an empty net also scored for the Jr Rockets who face off against South Delta and Waterloo on day two of the tournament on Tuesday.
South Delta edged Waterloo 3-2 in overtime in their tournament opener.
Burnaby Winter Club got past Kelowna's Pursuit of Excellence 3-1 in the other day one game in the Jr Rockets pool.
On the other side of the tournament the AAAA Okanagan Rockets had no trouble dispatching of Compete Academy Rams out of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 10-1.
Tanner Campbell had two goals and two assists for the Okanagan Rockets.
Brandon Wagner and Tanner Wishnowski also chipped in with a pair of goals as the Rockets held period leads of 3-1 and 6-1.
The Rockets take on Prince George and Vernon Thursday.
In other games in that pool, defending champion Thunder Bay defeated Okanagan Hockey Academy Red 6-2 while Justin Schwing had three goals and an assist leading Prince George past the Vernon Jr Vipers 7-1.
The Vipers were a last minute replacement for the Burlington Eagles who were forced to drop out of the tournament when they were unable to fly out of Toronto due to frigid conditions.
The tournament resumes Thursday morning at 8 a.m. with games at both Rutland and Memorial arenas.
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