Rockets record run reaches 22

The Victoria Royals came into Kelowna one of the hottest teams in the Western Hockey League.

They leave anything but.

The Royals, winners of seven of eight heading into Thursday's tilt were no match for the Rockets in a 6-1 Kelowna victory.

It could have been much worse save for the at times spectacular netminding of Patrik Polivka.

The Czech import stopped 28 shots, many in a spectacular nature especially over the final 40 minutes.

Thursday's win extends the Rockets home winning streak to 22 games and also clinches a playoff berth for the Rockets with 20 games still remaining in the regular season.

Tyson Baillie paced Thursday's attack with a pair of goals his 18th and 19th of the season.

Zach Franko (21), Tyrell Goulbourne (7), Jesse Lees (9) and Colton Sissons (18) also scored for the Rockets.

Jamie Crooks spoiled Jordon Cooke's bid for his fifth shutout of the season.

Cooke was perfect on the other 28 shots he faced to record his league high 28th win of the season.

Baillie, the game's number one star, says it was important to bounce back after Monday's overtime loss in Kamloops.

"We've been resilient all year. I don't think we've lost two games in a row since the start of the year so that really helps us," says Baillie.

"We don't get down if we lose a game. We just get right back up and think about the next game."

In fact, the last time the Rockets lost two in a row was a pair of 3-2 defeats in Tri-City November 16 and 17.

Baillie, in his second year with the club has shattered his rookie totals with 19 goals and 41 points in 48 games.

He says a lot of that credit goes to his linemates Tyrell Goulbourne and Cody Fowlie.

"We love playing with each other. We all like to crash and bang and we see each other good out on the ice and we have some nice finish," says Baillie.

The Rockets, as they have done so often this season and especially of late, jumped out to a quick lead and didn't look back.

They enjoyed a 3-0 lead on goals from Baillie, Franko and Goulbourne before the game was 15 minutes old.

Head coach Ryan Huska says it was important to get off to a good start especially against a team that had been enjoying some success lately.

"I think you try, especially in your own building to dictate how the game is going to be played," says Huska.

"Sometimes those things are out of your control. The other team might get some bounces early on but we try to get the guys to make sure they're ready and intense early on and ready to play when the puck is dropped."

With the winning streak at 22 on home ice both Baillie and Huska say the pressure is not starting to mount inside the dressing room.

"To be honest we don't talk about it. We spoke about it when we were coming up on tying the record and when we were beating the record but now it's just playing and trying to be better than we were last night," says Huska.

Thursday's game was the start of yet another three game in three night marathon.

The Rockets go into Vancouver Friday night before hosting the Giants back at Prospera Place looking for number 23 in a row Saturday.

Kelowna will be out for some payback after the Giants beat the Rockets 4-3 in overtime the last time the Rockets travelled to Vancouver three weeks ago.

"They always do (play us tough). They're our biggest rival and they are going to be ready for us tomorrow night," says Huska.

"They had a big win against Prince Albert. We didn't have the success we wanted the last time we were in their building so we have to make sure we're prepared to play a physical, hard game."

Thursday's win moved the Rockets back to within five points of league leading Portland. The Winterhawks do hold a game in hand.

Kelowna also stretched its lead over Kamloops to nine in the BC Division with a game in hand.

The Rockets also remain unbeaten in regulation time since returning from the Christmas break (15-0-2-0).

More WHL articles