Power-play powers Rockets past Tips
The Kelowna Rockets scored three times on the power-play in a convincing 4-1 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips Thursday before 5,000 fans at Prospera Place.
Ryan Olsen scored twice with the man advantage, opening the scoring with a deft deflection of Myles Bell's point shot before closing things out by chipping home Colton Sissons' cross ice feed.
"I play with some great players on the power-play so I just park my butt in front of the net and I know if I get open they'll find me," says Olsen of his success this season.
"They're great players so it's an easy job but it's a tough one as well."
Thursday's two goal effort gives Olsen 30 on the season, doubling his previous high of 15 established a year ago in Saskatoon.
Exactly half of those goals have comes with the man advantage.
Coming off a self described terrible year in Saskatoon last season Olsen says he didn't know whether he had a 30 goal season in him.
"I had a terrible year last year. I didn't produce as well as I wanted but to come here and produce 30 goals - I mean, to get 30 goals in this league is something special," says Olsen.
"It's a big accomplishment. I'm only 18 but I have a lot of confidence right now so that helps a lot."
As for how many he may end up with Olsen says right now wins are the most important thing but if he plays his game the goals will come.
Colton Sissons scored his 24th of the year on a power-play while JT Barnett closed out the scoring with his 12th, wiring a wrist shot from the slot after intercepting an errant clearing attempt.
"I think the key for us tonight was JT Barnett's goal. Our second goal was a big one," says Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.
"He was hungry and I thought he was our best skating forward tonight. He kind of created that goal on his own with his work ethic so it was good to see him get rewarded. I thought that was one of the keys for us tonight."
The Rockets didn't come out with a lot of jump early in the game but Huska says they did get better as the game wore on.
"I think it takes some time after an emotional letdown to get yourself back. I thought the game in Everett (Sunday) we battled hard - it wasn't the prettiest game and there was a lot of the same tonight," added Huska.
"I thought as the game wore on we started to get better and that's what we want to continue to see from our group."
Jackson Whislte turned aside 20 shots to earn his 13th win of the season while lowering his goals against average to 2.01.
It wasn't his busiest night of the season but he had to come up with several key saves early when the Rockets were nursing a 1-0 and 2-0 lead.
His best save came midway through the second when he robbed Logan Assman with a spectacular glove grab while moving to his left.
The only shot to beat Whistle took more than 10 minutes to figure out.
With the second period already in the books the replay officials took a look at a shot from Landon Oslanski late in the period that the Silvertips claimed had gone through the mesh high to Whistle's right.
After a lengthy review and delay the goal was allowed to stand and the final 31 seconds were played after the intermission.
Thursday's win moves the Rockets again seven points clear of second place Kamloops in the battle for top spot in the BC Division.
The Blazers hold a game in hand.
That sets up a key home-and-home set between the two BC rivals beginning Friday night in Kamloops. The teams will return to Kelowna for a Saturday tilt at Prospera Place.
"This is going to be a test the whole way. They (Kamloops) have a very good hockey team," says Huska.
"They're playing the way they did at the beginning of the year so they're confident about their game. We'll have to make sure we're prepared to play a smart, energetic game Friday and Saturday."
The Rockets have yet to lose to the Blazers at home but, conversely, have yet to win in Kamloops.
Huska says the key to winning in Kamloops will be to stay disciplined and out of the penalty box.
Late penalties have hurt the Rockets in their two losses in Kamloops.
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