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Rockets fight past Cougars

The Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars both had a lot to fight for Friday night.

The Rockets are fighting for a playoff spot, while the Cougars are fighting for respectability after losing 11 in a row and seeing their coach, Richard Matvichuk lose his job just 24 hours earlier.

And, ironically, it was a fight that turned the tables in Kelowna's favour.

Trailing 3-2 early in the third, Cougars' Josh Maser appeared to catch Nolan Foote on the side of the head with an elbow as he skated by.

No call.

Kaeden Korczak jumped to Foote's defence and, despite taking more than he gave, lifted up the bench, and the crowd.

"Once they missed the head shot call and Korzie went in...the guys showed they care," said head coach Adam Foote.

"They were upset and they were pissed off and they should be. It was a blind sided hit that the NHL calls in today's world. I don't know how four guys missed it."

The Rockets went on from there. They blocked shots, killed the penalty, grabbed the momentum, and scored two big unanswered goals for a 4-3 victory.

It was just their second win in 25 tries when trailing after 40 minutes.

Foote converted a back-door one-timer on a pretty three-way passing play to tie it. Then, with starter Taylor Gauthier in the dressing room with what looked to be a lower body injury, 15-year-old AP Tyler Brennan was asked to keep the Rockets at bay.

Seeing his first WHL action, he made just one mistake, serving up a juicy rebound to Mark Liwiski, who buried his sixth of the season.

It stood up the rest of the way.

Through the first period, it didn't look as if there would be any comeback.

Playing in front of GM and interim head coach Mark Lamb, the Cougars came out flying. They built a 2-0 and threatened to run the Rockets out of their own building.

Foote got one back on a shorthanded breakaway before the Cougars restored the two-goal lead on the same power play in the final minute.

That spelled the end for starter James Porter, who was replaced by Roman Basran to start the second.

Cayde Augustine, who has been out of the lineup as much as he's been in during his rookie season, got the Rockets to within one with his first WHl goal, a seeing eye wrist shot from the left circle that found a home just inside the bar.

"I looked up and I saw a corner and I said, this is it so I pulled it in and I just shot as hard as I could," said Augustine.

"I didn't know it went in at first. I saw Liwi's (Liwiski) arms go up, and I didn't know what to do."

Augustine's goal marked the third straight game a Rocket has scored his first career WHL goal.

Friday's win gives the Rockets a four point cushion on Kamloops for the third automatic playoff berth in the BC Division, with a key date coming up in Kamloops Saturday.

The Rockets, who have been without three forwards the past two games, will get veteran Connor Bruggen-Cate back in the lineup after serving his two game suspension for actions related to last Saturday's tilt with the Blazers.



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