Rockets slip by Cougars

You can make it three-in-a-row for the Kelowna Rockets and goaltender James Porter.

Porter was again spectacular when he had to be Saturday night in a 4-2 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars.

The 17-year-old rookie stoned the Cougars on several breakaways and odd-man rushes, many of those when the Rockets enjoyed the man advantage.

His biggest stop came off former Rocket Brogan O'Brien on a shorthanded penalty shot. With the game tied at 1-1, he managed to just get the end of his pad on O'Brien's deke as he tried to go from his forehand to backhand.

"I went down too early. He had me, so I knew I had to do something and just got the leg out quicker," said Porter.

Then, late in the game with the Rockets nursing a one-goal lead, Porter all but sealed the victory. Again, down a man, Kody McDonald broke in all alone, but Porter stayed with him and got his blocker on McDonald's backhand deke.

Minutes later, Carsen Twarynski sealed the win when a pass near the Cougars blueline hit Twarynski's skate and trickled into the empty net. It was Twarynski's sixth goal in three games.

Leif Mattson, Kyle Topping and Cal Foote with the game winner also scored for the Rockets.

Vladislav Mikhalchuk, with a shot that went in off Dillon Dube's stick, and Josh Maser on a power play replied for the Cougars.

Up 2-1 late in the second, Foote faked a slapshot from the top of the left circle, dragged the puck to the middle of the ice, and beat Taylor Gauthier on the short side.

"To be honest, coach Kris (Mallette) told me to fake and shoot short side, so credit goes to coach Kris right there," said Foote.

"I just tried to fake and get a shot on net, and it found its way."

The Rockets power play was, in a word, awful Saturday, giving up at least four breakaways or partial breakaways.

"It's about paying attention to detail and making sure you are outworking guys on the penalty kill," said Rockets head coach Jason Smith.

"We know how important special teams are, and when you're on the power play, you need to make sure you are competing and working harder than the guys trying to kill the penalty. You have to make plays and move the puck, and not rely on one individual."

As for the play of Porter, who has given up just 11 goals over five consecutive starts, Smith says there's no talk about Porter taking over the number one job from Brodan Salmond, who is just returning from injury.

"(Porter's) a young kid and obviously Brodan has been out with an injury and took some time.

"He's back and he's worked hard and competed in practice the last couple of days. When you miss an extended period of time, it takes some time to get back. We'll move forward and see where we're at, and make decisions as we go."

After winning three of four on their homestand, the Rockets now hit the road for three straight against division leaders.

They play in Tri-City Wednesday then hit the island for back-to-back games in Victoria Friday and Saturday.

The Royals hold a seven point lead on second place Kelowna, although the Rockets do have two games in hand.

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