Kelowna bounced back with solid effort to get first win of WHL season in Prince George

Rockets earn first victory

The Kelowna Rockets are in the win column.

After opening the season with regulation and overtime losses, the Rockets bounced back Saturday in a convincing 5-1 win over the Prince George Cougars, earning a split of their two game northern trip.

Andres Cristall and Adam Kydd again led the way offensively.

Cristall had a career-high four assists while Kydd chipped in with two goals and an assist in the victory.

Turner McMillen, Marcus Pacheco on a feed from Kydd on a power play and Gabriel Szturc also scored for the Rockets.

The Rockets turned the tables on the Cougars Saturday, jumping out to a commanding 4-0 lead after 40 minutes.

Chase Wheatcroft spoiled Jari Kykkanen's bid for a shutout on a power play seven minutes into the third.

After being pulled after 40 minutes Friday, Kykkanen bounced back stopping 32 of the 33 shots he faced to post the victory.

The Rockets return home to host the Victoria Royals Wednesday at Prospera Place. The Royals roll into town looking for their first win of the season.

Blazers score four unanswered, hang on for 4-2 win over Chiefs

Blazers double up on Chiefs

Caedan Bankier scored a goal and two assists Saturday to lead the Kamloops Blazers to a 4-2 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane — the first win of the young WHL season for the Blue and Orange.

The Blazers were up 4-0 in the third period before Spokane scored a pair late to cut the lead in half, but that was as close as the hosts would get.

Connor Levis, Matthew Seminoff, Bankier and Ethan Brandwood were the goal scorers for the Blazers. Bankier and Drew Englot each finished the night with two assists.

Grady Lane and Cade Hayes scored for Spokane in front of an announced crowd of 7,572 at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

Dylan Ernst made 33 saves on 35 shots to earn the win in net, his first victory of the season. Spokane goalie Mason Beaupit stopped 20 of 24 Kamloops shots in a losing effort.

The Blazers were one for three on the power play and Bankier’s goal came shorthanded at 3:19 of the second period. The Chiefs scored once on five power-play opportunities.

Carter Streek, a Kamloops product who plays left wing for the Chiefs, finished the night with one shot on goal and two penalty minutes.

The win moves the Blazers to 1-1 on the season, and they will have to wait nearly a week for Game 3, which will come Friday when the winless Victoria Royals (0-3-0-0) visit Sandman Centre. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m.

Kelowna Rockets road trip gets off on the wrong foot

Rockets mauled by Cougs

The Kelowna Rockets opened and closed the scoring...but in between it was all Prince George Cougars Friday night.

The Cougars spotted the Rockets the game's opening goal, but roared back with six unanswered before the end of the second period in a convincing 6-3 victory over the visiting Rockets.

Kelowna will get an opportunity to even the score when the two teams meet again in PG Saturday.

Hudson Thornton led the charge with a pair of goals and an assist while Ethan Samson, Fisher O'Brien and Riley Heidt all had a goal and an assist.

Noah Boyko also scored for the Cougars.

Andrew Cristall on a breakaway after undressing a Cougar defenceman inside the blueline opened the scoring before the Cougars took control.

Jake Poole with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle on a power play and Rilen Kovacevic from the bottom of the circle rounded out the scoring in the third.

The Rockets dominated in the faceoff circle and outshot the Cougars 37-24, but came out on the wrong end where it mattered most.

Jari Kykkanen allowed all six goals on 22 shots before being replaced by Nicholas Cristiano in the third. The Cougars managed just two shots on Cristiano in the final period.

Portland erase a late two-goal deficit then score in overtime in a come-from-behind 6-5 win over the Rockets

Rockets let one slip away

The Kelowna Rockets let a two-goal lead slip away late in the third period, then gave up the overtime winner, falling 6-5 to the Portland Winterhawks in their season opener Saturday night.

The Rockets had a chance to put the visiting Winterhawks away late in the third period, up two with a four-minute power play and less than nine minutes to go.

But it was Portland who seized the momentum when Gabe Klassen found himself alone in front of Jari Kykkanen, and buried his fourth of the night shorthanded.

Just 66 seconds later Portland completed the comeback when a seemingly harmless pass deflected off a pair of skates to Luke Schelter who tapped the puck past a startled Kykkanen.

Luca Cagnoni won it for the visitors with a wrist shot from the high slot during three-on-three overtime.

"They did not stop...for a team that played last night for sure," said head coach Kris Mallette.

"They are always pressing the pace and stretching the zones. Our guys were taken back a little, and on their heels because of it.

"in the defensive zone, we struggled at times to make some real good puck decisions and ultimately it ended up in the back of our net."

Adam Kydd, another player Mallette will be leaning heavily on, produced in a big way in the opener, scoring once and assisting on the other four.

The trio of Kydd, Gabriel Szturc and Andrew Cristall combined for 11 points on the night.

Szturc, celebrating his 19th birthday, scored twice and added a pair of assists while Cristall added a pair of goals.

"Kydder has been pretty solid. He's one of those guys that just goes about his business.

"Not flashy, just real consistent. And, tonight he was rewarded for it."

Portland led 2-1 early in the second when the trio started rolling. Szturc backhanded a rebound of Kydd's shot past Dante Giannuzzi to tie it at two then Cristall, on a feed from Kydd just after a power play had expired, put the Rockets up for the first time.

They extended the lead to two on a power play in the opening minute of the third when Cristall banged home his second on a one-timer from the left circle.

But, they couldn't close it out.

"It was a good effort overall for the first game of the season, but a lot of things to work on," said Kydd.

"For the first game it was great to see the fans, and a lot of energy. But, a tough way to finish obviously, but there were a lot of good things."

The Rockets had a couple of good chances to close it in overtime. Turner McMillen and Caden Price found themselves in on a two-on-ones twice in short succession, but were unable to connect on cross ice passes.

The Rockets are off again this week before travelling north for a pair of games in Prince George Friday and Saturday.

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