Rockets end record season with a win
For a team that established a number of franchise records you would expect nothing different.
The Kelowna Rockets ended the season the way they started, on a winning note beating the visiting Vancouver Giants 5-3 Saturday.
Kelowna concluded the season with franchise records for wins (57), points (118) and consecutive road wins (16).
Carter Rigby scored twice while rookie Nick Merkley had a goal and two assists. Rourke Chartier and Madison Bowey scored the other goals for the Rockets.
Twice the Giants grabbed one goal leads on a pair of goals from Jackson Houck but twice the Rockets would come back to tie.
Bowey, who established a club record for defencemen Friday with his 20th goal of the season, made it 1-1 with a rocket from the point that hit the left post and past Giants starter Peyton Lee.
After the Giants re-established the one goal lead Rigby tied it with his first of two beating Lee who tried to scramble back into the net after giving the puck away to Tyrell Goulbourne behind the net.
Merkley jumped all over a rebound a little more than two minutes later to give the Rockets their first lead of the night.
Chartier pounded home a rebound on a Rockets power-play midway through the third to give the Rockets a two goal lead with what proved to be the game winner.
The Giants got that one back on a power-play of their own before Rigby deflected home Joe Gatenby's point shot 16 seconds later to close out the scoring.
The final regular season game for both teams was meaningless as far as the standings were concerned. The Rockets had long since clinched top spot in the west while the Giants were destined to finish seventh and face the Portland Winterhawks in round one of the playoffs.
Unlike last season when the Rockets lost captain Colton Sissons down the stretch to a fractured collarbone, the Rockets came out of the two game weekend with the Giants relatively unscathed.
The one scare, a gash on Madison Bowey's arm courtesy of Lee's skate Friday night.
"It's fine I think," Bowey said of the arm after Saturday's regular season finale. "It's a little stiff and tight right now and a little swollen but other than that it's pretty good.
It's not going to keep me out of any games so it's good."
Bowey admits he was concerned when the injury first happened, recalling a similar incident involving former Rocket Jessey Astles who cut four tendons in his wrist in a freak injury 16 months ago.
"I saw a little blood coming out and I saw the muscle there so it was kind of gruesome a little bit but the doctor came in and gave me some reassurance that it wasn't that bad and I would be out there again."
Rockets head coach Ryan Huska says it's an exciting time of year for the team as they get prepared for the post season.
While admitting the team had a very good season Huska says the team did go through that stretch in February where the team wasn't as sharp as they had been.
He says the team is getting back to where they were earlier in the season.
"Over the last little while you can see our energy has come back to a level where we think we were," says Huska.
"We're a better hockey team and I also think it's because we saw the end of the line and the playoffs were around the corner."
Prior to the start of the game the Rockets received the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy for winning the league's regular season championship.
Bowey posed with the trophy, but did not touch it.
Huska says that was his captain's decision.
"It's obviously special to get that and we're all honoured. I'm honoured to be the captain of the team but I think we all know what the real trophy is that we want."
The Rockets begin the road to the Memorial Cup in earnest next Saturday when they host the Tri-City Americans in game one of the Western Conference quarter-final series.
Game two will be played Sunday at 5 p.m. at Prospera Place before the series shifts to Tri-City for games three and four the following Tuesday and Wednesday.
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