Rockets fall in ex. finale

Next up, the regular season.

The Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers drew the curtain on the two-week exhibition season Saturday night at Prospera Place. They play for keeps starting next weekend.

With a more veteran line-up, the Rockets bounced back from a 6-1 thumping in Kamloops the previous night.

They hung with the Blazers, who dressed most of their opening night roster, the entire night, before falling 3-2 in a marathon nine-player shootout.

Veteran Brodi Stuart put an end to the proceedings, beating Roman Basran low to the glove side. Kyle Topping for the Rockets and Blazers' Logan Stankoven had earlier scored during the second round of the shootout.

The Rockets went down 2-0 early, but battled back to eventually tie it, and, despite being outshot, had the better of the chances in the final period.

"We were down 2-0 early...I didn't like the way we were down 2-0, but I really like the way (Roman) Basran stayed in it. He didn't lose his focus, and he played hard," said Rockets head coach Adam Foote.

"Our players didn't get discouraged. We kept going, we chipped back. It was a good game."

Trailing 2-0 late in the period, Kyle Crosbie, using Jake Poole as a decoy on a two-on-one, wired a wrist shot past Kamloops starter Rayce Ramsay in the final minute of the period.

The Rockets had numerous chances to tie it, but were unable to beat Ramsay until Czech rookie Pavel Novak netted his first in a Kelowna uniform.

With the Rockets buzzing in the Kamloops end, Novak took a pass in the left circle and sent a shot that appeared to deflect off something and beat Ramsay high to the glove side.

The goal came just moments before Ramsay was knocked hard to the ice when his own defenceman Trevor Thurston rammed Kelowna's Mark Liwiski into the rookie netminder.

Ramsay finished the period, but gave way to Dylan Garand in the third. Ramsay remained in the dressing room for the first half of the third period before finally joining his teammates on the bench.

The Rockets finished pre-season 2-3-0-1, but Foot said pre-season was about more than just wins and losses.

"We've got a long season ahead of us and we have a lot of things we have to look at.

"I thought it was a real good pre-season for our young guys to get into key situations, and some of our players from last year who didn't play big minutes or in key situations to get an opportunity as well."

The Rockets are also without four players expected to play key roles on the team this season.

Forwards Nolan Foote and Dillon Hamaliuk, along with defenceman Kaeden Korczak and Sean Comrie remain at NHL training camps.

It's not certain when the four will rejoin the team.

The Rockets will open up the regular season at home next Saturday night when the Spokane Chiefs come to town.

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