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WHL  

Rockets eke out two points

For 39 minutes Wednesday, it looked as if the Kelowna Rockets may run away from the Tri-City Americans.

They were the better team in all phases of the game, and more than full value for a 3-0 lead.

But penalties killed the momentum and gave the Americans life.

They took advantage, forcing overtime and eventually a shootout, before falling 4-3 to the Rockets.

Nolan Foote scored the game winner in the shootout - Leif Mattson the clincher.

"We did so many great things, and I don't want to take away from how we are playing with great structure, but we just have to stop kicking ourselves," said head coach Adam Foote.

"Those penalties are self-induced. We just have to learn how to control ourselves...we're doing it to ourselves. They guys know it, so hopefully we can buy in soon enough and stop making those games closer than they have to be."

The Rockets were flying through much of the first 40. Erik Gardiner got the Rockets rolling when he kicked in his own rebound for his fifth of the season.

The WHL changed its rules two seasons ago, allowing players to direct pucks into the net with their skate outside the crease.

Liam Kindree doubled the lead near the end of the period when he banged home his own rebound.

Nolan Foote made it 3-0 in the early stages of the second when his wrist shot off a feed from Kindree beat 16-year-old Talyn Boyko to the blocker side.

Both Boyko and Rocket starter James Porter made some outstanding saves to keep the game at 3-0.

Tri-City found their way back into the game in the dying seconds of the second. With Kyle Topping in the box for four minutes, Parker AuCoin had a shot deflect off his leg and past Porter to give the Ams some life.

They buzzed around the Kelowna net much of the final period, aided greatly by more Rocket penalties. But, it was a questionable tripping penalty to Lassi Thomson on what looked like a textbook hip check that opened the door.

AuCoin made the Rockets pay, then Aaron Hyman, with the teams playing four-on-four, took advantage of poor clearing by the Rockets to even the game at 3-3.

Both teams had great chances to win it in the extra period, The Rockets early, the Ams late.

Boyko made two key saves in the opening stages of the extra period, getting a glove on Mattson's shot from the right circle, then blocking Kindree's drive from the slot off the ensuing faceoff.

Porter, in the dying seconds, sprawled to deny Krystof Krabik, who cut hard to the net off the right wing.

Kelowna got the only two goals of the shootout, while Porter denied both Tri-City attempts.

The Rockets play their final home game prior to Christmas Friday night when the Victoria Royals come to town.



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