Streaking Blazers invade Rocketland
Nov 1, 2012 / 5:00 am
It's been seven-and-a-half months since the Kamloops Blazers suffered a regular season, regulation time defeat.
The Kelowna Rockets hope to re-introduce the feeling Thursday night.
The Blazers, riding a club record 14 game winning streak, head into Prospera Place Thursday night with an awe inspiring 16-0-0-1 record.
The streak was in jeopardy Tuesday night before the Blazers pulled out a 3-2 shootout win in Everett.
Their last regulation time defeat came in the final game last season, a 4-2 setback at the hands of the Prince George Cougars.
Thursday's match-up marks the first time the Rockets have seen the Blazers since the opening weekend of the season.
"The first game we lost in overtime we took a lot of penalties and that's an area we have been steadily working on," says Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.
"The same thing really hurt us the next night when we gave up a power-play goal with about two minutes to go. Those are definitely things we can build on, but like I said, they (games) provided us with opportunities for us to learn and get better."
The Rockets, who struggled a bit out of the gate have started to turn things around of late, especially on the defensive side.
They have picked up 11 of a possible 16 points over their last eight games (5-2-0-1).
"With our back end they are young right now but I think we have seen some improvements with them and they have more confidence playing in their own zone," says Huska.
"I think that's why you've seen some games where we haven't given up as many goals."
That task will be tougher Thursday against an offensively gifted Blazers team that has scored a league high 81 goals through 17 games.
They also dominate the top of the WHL scoring race. JC Lipon (16g, 40pts), Colin Smith (13g, 39pts) and Tim Bozon (14g, 31pts) sit one-two-three in league scoring.
Huska says stopping them, especially the number one line, won't be left up to one core group.
"I think we are in a position where we are going to have to use a few different people against their top end guys. It's not just one line you have to worry about so we are going to have to challenge a lot of our players to make sure we are responsible."
Thursday's game also marks the first of four in a row and a string which sees them play 10 of their next 14 on home ice.
It's a vast departure for a club that has spent a lot of time on the bus early in the season with 11 of 16 on the road to start the season.
"We got through a tough stretch to start our year and now we have most of our home games in one clump in November. Now, we just have to make sure we are doing a great job on home ice."
The Rockets are 3-2 on home ice, having won their last two in a row.
Kelowna will host Prince George Saturday before welcoming Edmonton and Red Deer into town next Wednesday and Friday.
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