Rockets tame Tigers, keep rolling at home
Ryan Olsen snapped a 2-2 with his 23rd of the season late in the second period and the Kelowna Rockets rolled to their eighth straight win on home ice, a 6-2 triumph over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers.
As has been the case much of this season the Rockets spread the scoring around getting goals from six different players in Friday's win.
Myles Bell, Madison Bowey, Mitchell Wheaton, Carter Rigby and Rourke Chartier also scored for the Rockets.
Bowey and Chartier also had a pair of assists to go along with their goal.
As has been the case in recent games the Rockets started out slow and gave the opposition the first goal. It's the seventh time in eight games the Rockets have surrendered the first goal of the game.
"No team wants to give up the first goal like we have in the past few games," says Rockets captain Madison Bowey.
"Like I said we are a resilient group and we bounce back pretty easily. We don't like to see those slow starts but I think we bounced back in the second. We had a lot of momentum going in and we used that to our advantage."
Trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes the Rockets stormed out of the dressing room to start the second.
Bell notched his team leading 28th when he slid home a deflection off Bowey's left point shot.
Bowey gave the Rockets their first lead of the night when his wrist shot from the left circle on a partial breakaway beat Marek Langhamer high blocker side just under the bar.
Rigby set up the goal chipping a pass along the side wall to a streaking Bowey just outside the Tigers blue line.
"It was a beautiful pass," Bowey said of the play. "I saw an opportunity to jump and he hit me perfectly. I couldn't thank him more for that play and I think that helped us for the rest of the game.
The Tigers tied the game at 2-2 midway through the second when Curtis Valk's centering pass inadvertently tipped off Tyson Baillie's stick and past Jordon Cooke.
Olsen's goal four minutes later sent the Rockets on their way.
Wheaton put the game out of reach just past the midway point of the third when his wrist shot from the top of the left circle beat Langhamer on the far side.
Rigby, playing one of his better games of the season put the icing on the cake with his 13th of the year.
He stripped a Tiger's defenceman of the puck with a hard forecheck along the end boards then went straight to the net in time to deflect home Damon Severson's point shot.
"That last goal that Carter scored was a great goal. He finished a check on a defenceman and went right to the net," says Rockets coach Ryan Huska.
"I agree - I thought he played well tonight. Against Everett I thought he was standing around a little too much but tonight he had his energy back. I thought he was physical and did some good things for us."
Despite the start Huska says he was pleased with the two points.
"There were some good things again and there are a lot of things for us to work on," says Huska.
"Medicine Hat is a very good hockey team. They are very fast - probably the quickest team in the league and they challenge our defencemen and challenge our forwards to be better."
Huska says he felt it took a while to get up to speed.
Cooke turned aside 29 shots for his league leading 29th win of the season.
Friday's win was the Rockets 39th of the season as they improve to 39-6-0-2.
Their 80 points puts them 11 clear of the Portland Winterhawks atop the overall standings and 14 better than Victoria in the BC Division.
The Rockets get back at it Saturday night when the lowly Lethbridge Hurricanes invade Prospera Place.
It's the third and final meeting between the two teams with the Rockets winning both previous tilts 6-0 and 5-1.
The Hurricanes come into Kelowna losers of seven in a row and nine of their last 10. They sit at the bottom of the league standings with just nine wins and 23 points.
Following Saturday's game the Rockets complete a gruelling weekend with a game Sunday in Seattle.
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