Cooke, Rockets complete sweep
Oct 5, 2013 / 10:48 pm
The Kelowna Rockets came within a whisker of being run out of their own building Saturday in the back half of a weekend double dip with the Portland Winterhawks.
Already down 2-0 and being totally dominated just four minutes into the game the Rockets found themselves facing a pair of five-on-three penalty kills (1:01 and 1:30 in duration) against a good Portland power-play.
The Rockets killed off both and moments later, a blast from Riley Stadel on a Kelowna power-play breathed life into the Rockets and their bench.
They scored three times in a span of 1:55 and rode that momentum to a 6-3 victory and a sweep of the back-to-back games against the Winterhawks.
Rockets coach Ryan Huska agrees the game came close to getting away from the Rockets.
"Oh yea, it started that way. For the first eight minutes there was one team on the ice," says Huska.
"That was unfortunate. We hoped there wouldn't be a bit of a letdown but the penalty was big for us and I thought after that we got ourselves involved. We started playing with a bit of an edge and that's what we need to have."
Stadel led the Rockets with a pair of goal, both hard shots from the point - both on the power-play.
Myles Bell, Damon Severson, Cole Linaker and Ryan Olsen with his first of the season also scored for the Rockets.
Zach Franko ran his consecutive point streak to six with a pair of assists while rookie Nick Merkley also had two helpers giving him multiple point games in three straight.
For the second straight night Jordon Cooke was the number one star as he turned aside 36 shots to earn his fourth win of the season.
Cooke faced 83 shots over the two games against the Winterhawks.
While they went home happy Saturday many in the crowd of 5,010 were still buzzing about Stadel's two rockets.
"He's finding the net this year for whatever reason. His shot is hard," says Huska.
"He's doing a good job of seeing where the guys are in his shot lane so he's put the puck on the net when he's had a chance and he's been rewarded."
Many have started comparing Stadel's shot to that of Myles Bell who has always had a cannon from the blue line.
At more than 50 pounds lighter than Bell Stadel says his shot comes from a lot of hard work.
"I guess in the summer just working out and just practicing each day after practice for about 20 to 30 minutes," says Stadel who says he got a bit lucky on his first goal that got the Rockets on the board.
"I saw I was so I was calling for it and I guess I got lucky. It hit the post and went in."
The key to both victories over the Winterhawks was the Rockets ability to kill off penalties.
They killed off all 16 penalties they were assessed including 10 Saturday.
While he wasn't happy with all the penalties his team took Huska was pleased the team picked up its physical play.
"You don't want to kill 10 minor penalties to a good team but at the same time we started to play with some edge and that's what had been missing from our previous five games," says Huska.
"More physical and I felt we had some guys that had some snarl - a little bit of bite and you end up with three fights. That's not the be all and end all but I thought we had some more pop to our game tonight than we did last night."
The Rockets, 5-0-0-1, are the only team in the Western Hockey League yet to lose in regulation time.
Kelowna looks for its fourth win in a row Tuesday in Spokane.
Following Tuesday's game in Spokane the Rockets will return home for a four game, 11 day homestand beginning Friday against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Rockets radio analyst, Gord McGarva has pledged to donate $10 for every Rockets home goal through the month of October to the Canadian Cancer Society.
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