Rockets fall to Giants

The Vancouver Giants were too much for the visiting Kelowna Rockets, downing the Okanagan team 3-2 Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.

The game was scoreless through the first 20 minutes of play.

Conner Bruggen-Cate opened the scoring for Kelowna at 3:50 of the middle frame. Vancouver responded with two quick goals from Owen Hardy and Ty Ronning as the Giants took a 2-1 lead into the third period.

At 3:49 of the third, Leif Mattson evened things at two aside, but at the 8:35 mark, James Malm regained Vancouver's lead and they held on to that lead for an eventual 3-2 Giants final.

James Porter's record falls to 18-7-2-0 after stopping 23 of 26 shots he faced. Kelowna outshot Vancouver 30-26.

Kelowna's record is now 27-13-2-1.

Kelowna is back on home ice Wednesday, Jan. 17, when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes.


Rockets take down T-Birds

The Kelowna Rockets kicked off a key two-game road trip on the right foot Friday.

Leif Mattson scored twice and added an assist, and Cal Foote added three assists leading the Rockets past the Seattle Thunderbirds 6-2.

The win provided some semblance of revenge for last Friday's 6-4 defeat at the hands of the T-Birds, a loss that snapped the Rockets 13-game home ice winning streak.

Carsen Twarynski also scored twice for the Rockets, giving him a team-leading 29 on the season. His 48 points are better than his career high of 45 established two seasons ago.

Jack Cowell and Colum McGauley also scored for the Rockets.

The Rockets led 2-0 after one and 4-0 after 40 minutes.

They increased the lead to 5-0, before the T-Birds got goals from Dillon Hamaliuk to Austin Strand to make the score a little more respectable. Mattson sealed the victory with a late empty net goal.

James Porter faced just 25 shots, running his record to 18-6-0-2.

Friday's win moves the Rockets three points up on the idle Vancouver Giants atop the BC Division. They hold two games in hand on the Giants.

The two teams meet Saturday night in a true first place battle in Langley.

The Rockets will return home following the game to prepare for a Wednesday tilt against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Rockets hit road for two

The Kelowna Rockets will be without forward Dillon Dube and goaltender Roman Basran for a pair of key road games this weekend.

Dube remains in Calgary as he recovers from the flu while Basran suffered what appeared to be a left leg injury early in Wednesday's 7-4 win over the Spokane Chiefs.

His status is not known.

Goaltender Brodan Salmond did make the trip south to Seattle.

Salmond has appeared in just one game since mid-October. He has been recovering from a knee injury.

The Rockets have a date with the tough Seattle Thunderbirds tonight in the Washington city before a first place showdown with the suddenly red-hot Vancouver Giants.

The T-Birds tripped up Kelowna 6-4 last Friday night in the only other meeting this season between the two clubs.

"Seattle plays a very hard game, especially at home. Their defence is strong and they forecheck hard. They compete significantly harder than most teams for loose pucks and they dominate in faceoffs," said assistant coach Travis Crickard.

"We need our players to appear in the game ready to battle."

The Rockets enter the weekend with 26 wins and 55 points, one better than the Giants, who are idle Friday, and five up on third place Victoria.

They owns multiple games in hand on both teams.

The Rockets are back home Wednesday against Lethbridge.


Putting two Foote's forward

Cal Foote was spectacular in his return to the Kelowna Rockets lineup Wednesday.

Little brother Nolan was pretty effective, too.

The Rockets rode the play of the Foote brothers, Kyle Topping and a pair of late goals to sink the visiting Spokane Chiefs 7-4.

"He's a great player. He's an anchor on our back end," said Rockets head coach Jason Smith of Cal Foote.

"He plays, competes and has poise. He does a lot of things right all the time. He defends against the best players in the league, and also creates offence for us."

Foote was good all over the ice. He blasted home his seventh of the season with a one-timer from the high slot on the power play, administered some still body checks and engaged Chief Zach Fisher in a skirmish that ended up in the Rockets bench.

Kyle Topping with two, Kaedan Korczak with his first career WHL goal, Nolan Foote, Kole Lind and Braydyn Chizen with the eventual game-winner also scored for the Rockets.

The Rockets took an early 2-0 first period lead, but a goal late in the first and two early in the second put them behind by one.

Nolan Foote got one back quickly before brother Cal's power play blast put the Rockets up for good.

Leading 5-4 late after an exchange of goals, Topping's second and Kole Lind's 21st of the year sealed the victory.

"It was an exciting game...back and forth," said Topping.

"They're good, they've got a couple of skilled guys up front. We did a good job tonight, but it was nice to get those late goals and come out with the win."

The win may have come at a cost. Starting goaltender Roman Basran left the game with an undisclosed injury after he did the splits to make a sensational pad save on a Chief's two-on-one early in the game.

After staying down for several moments, he needed help to get to his feet, but remained in the game for a few minutes. Barsan eventually pulled himself from the game and went straight to the dressing room.

Smith said Basran's status won't be known for a day or two.

Injured netminder Broden Salmond is still not ready to go.

Wednesday's win, coupled with Vancouver's overtime loss in Prince George moves the Rockets a single point up on the Giants in the battle for top spot in the BC Division.

Kelowna does hold three games in hand on the red-hot Giants, who have not lost in regulation time over a span of eight games.

The Rockets now hit the road for games against Seattle Friday and a first ;place showdown with the Vancouver Giants Saturday.

They're back home to Lethbridge Wednesday before travelling to Seattle again a week Friday.

More WHL articles