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WHL  

Rockets complete sweep

Make it a perfect eight for eight for the Kelowna Rockets in their season series with the rival Kamloops Blazers.

For the first time in five year, the Rockets swept the Blazers in the season series, closing it out Saturday with a 4-0 win on WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry night at Prospera Place.

The win, the Rockets second in as many nights against the Blazers, puts Kelowna win away from clinching the BC Division title for the first time in three seasons.

Leif Mattson scored twice, including his third shorthanded marker of the season. Gordie Ballhorn had a goal and a helper while Dillon Dube also scored. James Porter turned away 18 shots for his third goose egg of the season.

Unlike the past month when the Rockets had trouble holding on to leads and closing out games, they never let up Saturday after building up a 2-0 first period lead on a team that was officially eliminated from playoff contention Friday.

"We did the little things right and kept the puck out of our net," said Mattson.

"If we do that obviously we are going to win the game."

He said the team focused on playing a good "team game," and not worry about individual accomplishments.

"We started playing playoff hockey which we have to do down the stretch.

"That's going to give us success heading into the first round."

Mattson got the Rockets on the board first, converting a pretty three -way passing play with Dube and Carson Twarynski.

Ballhorn doubled the lead before the end of the period. Off a faceoff, Ballhorn just flipped the puck toward the Kamloops net from the left point. The puck seemed to handcuff Max Palags who whiffed on the shot.

After a scoreless second, The Blazers appeared as if they may have hit the scoresheet on a power play early in the third.

The shot from the left point hit the near goal post, rolled along the line, hit the far post and stayed out. The goal light went on, but after a brief review, the replay officials determined the puck had not crossed the line.

Shortly after,. Mattson made it 3-0 on a partial breakaway with the Rockets shorthanded. He fakes a slapshot from the right circle,  the slid the puck five-hole for his 23rd of the campaign.

Dube tipped home his 34th moments later when Kole Lind settled a loose puck at the blue line, turned and let go a weak shot that appeared to change direction past a startled Palaga.

"Despite the lopsided record between the two team this season,. Rockets coach Jason Smith said there was no reason to believe the Blazers wouldn't be ready to compete.

"They are a team that competes and plays hard every night. They didn't have have the year they probably would have wanted, but they compete and play the game.

"We knew we needed to be ready to play and be ready to compete. If we didn't do that, the result would have been the other way."

The Rockets are back at it again Wednesday when the Prince George Cougars make their final trip into Prospera Place.

The Rockets will either have a chance to clinch the BC Division title, or will be division champions if the Victoria Royals fall to the Spokane Chiefs in regulation time Sunday in the provincial capital.



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