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Rockets fall in shootout

Home hasn't exactly been kind of late to the Kelowna Rockets.

The Rockets dropped their second in a row on home ice for the first time since mid-October, a 3-2 shootout loss to the lowly Edmonton Oil Kings.

They have now dropped three of their last five at home. Overall, they've won just three of their last nine, although two of those losses did come in extra time.

Trey Fix-Wolansky played the role of hero for the Oil Kings, scoring the lone goal in the shootout.

Fix-Wolanskyo went out wide to the left, cut to the middle of the ice, and beat James Porter to the blocker side.

Twice, the Rockets led Saturday, and twice the Oil Kings were able to come back and tie it.

Cal Foote got the Rockets on the board early in the first with a one-timer from the left point. The goal was his 15th of the season.

Connor McDonald tied it for the Oil Kings before the period ended.

Braydn Chizen restored the one goal lead six minutes into the second when his wrist shot hit something in front of the net and deflected past Todd Scott in the Edmonton net.

Former Rocket Tomas Soustal got that one back 10 minutes later when his shot from the slot beat Porter on the short side.

Both goaltenders stood tall the rest of the way, forcing the extra period.

"We got what we deserved," said Rockets head coach Jason Smith following the defeat.

"We didn't play good enough to win the game, plain and simple. We played the game tonight like we were exhausted, tired and slow."

Smith said the team didn't compete and battle well enough around the net to score any goals.

The single point Saturday allowed the Rockets to remain a single point up on the second place Victoria Royals in the BC Division. The Royals edged Vancouver 4-3 Saturday.

The Rockets continue their four game homestand Tuesday when the Prince George Cougars come to town.





Dube, Foote fuel Rockets

Dillon Dube and Cal Foote provided all the offence the Kelowna Rockets would need Friday in a 2-1 victory over the hometown Kamloops Blazers.

Dube scored, while Foote assisted on both to pace the Rockets to the victory, and sole possession of top spot in the BC division of the Western Hockey League.

The Rockets got on the board first when Dube scored his 26th of the season on a power play just 4:15 into the game.

The Blazers tied it a little more than two minutes later when Montana Onyebuchi beat Brodan Salmond in the Kelowna net.

Dube scored what proved to be the winner 12 minutes into the second with his career-best 27th of the season. His previous career high was 26 established two seasons ago.

Salmond turned away the Blazers the rest of the way, stopping 28 of 29 shots fired his way.

The win moved the Rockets two points up on the Victoria Royals, who fell 4-3 at home to the Red Deer Rebels. The Vancouver Giants remain five back after beating the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings 2-1.

The Rockets will open up a four game homestand Saturday against the same Oil Kings.



Rockets drop Valentine's tilt

Call it the Valentine's Day massacre at Prospera, the Kelowna Rockets fell 4-1 to the Red Deer Rebels in WHL action Wednesday.

It was a tight game through two periods, with no score, with the Rockets held a 26-8 advantage in shots over the Rebels through 40 minutes.

In the third period, Josh Tarzwell opened the scoring 2:19 into the final frame and with 9:50 to go Kyle Toppingbeat Rebels goaltender Riley Lamb on a Kelowna power play to even things up at 1-1.

Just 58 seconds later Brandon Hagel put the Rebels back on top.
Reese Johnson padded the rebels lead to 3-1 and Mason McCarty potted the empty-netter with 59 seconds remaining as the Rockets fell 4-1.

Brodan Salmond's record falls to 7-8-0-1 after stopping 14 of the 17 shots he faced as Kelowna outshot Red Deer 37-18.

Kelowna's record is now 34-18-4-1.

Following Valentines Day the Rockets will head to Kamloops to renew their rivalry with the Blazers on Friday night in the first of back-to-back weekend games. Kelowna will then head back home to take on the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday night.



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A costly Rockets win

The Kelowna Rockets may have paid a heavy price in salvaging one win over the Victoria Royals.

Both Kole Lind and starting goaltender James Porter left Monday's 5-4 Family Day matinee with injuries.

Lind may have suffered a concussion after he was hit high by Ralph Jarrett while cutting through the slot. Lind lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped off the ice.

Fans wanted a penalty for what many in attendance thought was a high hit, but the only minor went to the Rockets bench for seemingly voicing their displeasure over the non-call.

"I don't really have any comment on the hit because the league will look at that, and there may be some decisions on what they thought, whether it was a clean hit or not a clean hit," said Rockets head coach Jason Smith.

Dillon Dube, who had a rare game on a line with Lind, didn't say much about the hit.

"It was tough...it was a hit, it happened," said Dube.

"I think everybody took his number...but we didn't do anything stupid because obviously it was a big game for us, and we couldn't take ourselves out of it.

Porter limped to the dressing room after Dillon Dube knocked Royals forward Igor Martynov into the Rockets' goaltender on a strong back-check.

Kyle Pow and Braydon Buziak set the tone for Monday's game, the third between the fierce BC Division in less than 72 hours, off the opening faceoff.

The two dropped their gloves in a spirited tilt just 10 seconds into the contest. Both players were ejected.

Moments later, Rockets defenceman Gordie Ballhorn leveled Martynov with a clean open ice hit near centre ice.

As for the game itself, despite a strong start, and the better of the early chances, it was the Royals who hit the scoresheet first when Matthew Phillips beat Porter on a penalty shot five minutes in.

Lind got that one back seconds later when he streaked into the Royals zone, backed off the defence, and beat Griffen Outhouse with a wrist shot to the far side.

Noah Gregor restored the one goal Victoria lead, but again, it was Lind who tied it, deflecting Cal Foote's point shot on a Kelowna power play.

The Rockets broke the game open with three unanswered goals over the first 14 minutes of the second.

Dube tipped home Connor Bruggen-Cate's centering pass for his 25th of the season, Carson Twarynski beat Outhouse to the blocker side from in close, and Gordie Ballhorn blasted home the eventual game winner on an other Kelowna power play.

Tyler Soy late in the second and Andrei Grishakov 11 minutes into the third pulled the Royals to within a goal, but that was as far as they got.

"It was obviously good for the group to bounce back after a couple of disappointing games in Victoria," said Smith.

"We played a pretty solid game, and did some pretty good things."

The weekend marked the final time these teams will meet this season, unless they face off with each other in the playoffs.

With both holding serve on home ice, it shows how important home ice could be it they do meet in the post season.

"It is. We've been really good on home ice so far this year, and we've been rolling here. I think we have a lot of confidence," added Dube.

"We won in their rink before this year, so I think it'll be fine."

The Rockets hold the slight edge, a single point better than the Royals, with two games in hand.

Kelowna gets a much needed break from playing Tuesday before starting another three-in-four-night stretch.

They'll host Red Deer on Valentine's evening Wednesday before travelling to Kamloops Friday and returning home to host Edmonton Saturday.



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