Wild 2nd leads Rockets over Cougars
Jordon Cooke stood on his head long enough for the Kelowna Rockets offence to kick into high gear.
And kick in it did.
The Rockets rewarded Cooke's sensational opening period with half a dozen goals during a wild and woolly second period in a 9-5 victory Tuesday over the visiting Prince George Cougars.
The Rockets defence left Cooke high and dry for stretches of the opening period forcing the 20-year-old netminder into three five-alarm saves.
His best was on a two-man breakaway when he slid over to stop Zach Pochiro on a perfect give-and-go.
"It was definitely a track meet out there. I think we played well in the offensive zone - especially after the second period I thought we took over," says Rockets Tyrell Goulbourne who scored three of the Rockets nine goals.
" I thought we needed to limit our chances inside the d-zone especially in the first period for sure and be a little disciplined."
After the sloppy first period in which the teams managed just a goal apiece the scoring picked up and came in waves.
The newly formed line of Rourke Chartier, Nick Merkley and Mark Tvrdon lit the lamp not once, not twice but three times before the three minute mark of the second to give the Rockets a 4-1 lead and chase Cougars starter Ty Edmonds.
That line ended up with nine points on the night led by Tvrdon with a goal and three assists. Chartier had three helpers while Chartier scored twice.
After the Cougars climbed within one with a pair of power-play goals the Rockets again seized control with three more in a span of a little more than four minutes.
Two more in the third, both by Goulbourne finally put the game away.
Damon Severson, Kris Schmidli and Justin Kirkland scored the other Rocket goals.
Todd Fiddler had a goal and three assists for the Cougars.
Tvrdon, acquired at the trade deadline 19 games ago continues to get better and better as he gets more comfortable with the way the team plays.
Tuesday was arguably his best game since coming to the team.
"Yea, I think so. I get points finally and I score. It's better game to game. I know the team and how they play so it's going to be better," says Tvrdon who admitted he liked playing with Merkley at centre.
Head coach Ryan Huska agreed Tvrdon's game is starting to come around.
"People that have seen him in Vancouver will know he is a spotty guy from time to time," says Huska.
"We're trying to find a way to make him feel like he's wanted here - I think that's something that maybe he needs. We are slowly chipping away at his defences and get him to looses up and break down a bit. I think he's enjoying himself now and I think that's why we're seeing him contribute a bit."
As for the game itself, Huska agreed the team was sloppy defensively in the first period but, once they started moving their feet in the second, the game turned.
"There aren't many teams that aren't consistent from time to time, especially in junior hockey. The challenge is to make sure that the inconsistent part of your game shouldn't be the defending side," says Huska.
"That's our concern as much as anything. But sometimes that's hard when you are scoring nine goals in a night - guys all want a part of that offence instead of worrying about defending."
Tuesday's win was the Rockets third over the Cougars in four meetings between the two teams.
The good news, the Rockets don't have to face their northern rivals again this season.
What does lie ahead is a stretch of three games in four nights in three cities.
Kelowna plays in Tri-City Wednesday, return home to host the Vancouver Giants Friday and travel to the coast for a return date in Vancouver Saturday.
The Rockets will be looking for their 50th win of the season in Tr-City on Wednesday.
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