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WHL  

Rockets fall in ex. finale

Next up, the regular season.

The Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers drew the curtain on the two-week exhibition season Saturday night at Prospera Place. They play for keeps starting next weekend.

With a more veteran line-up, the Rockets bounced back from a 6-1 thumping in Kamloops the previous night.

They hung with the Blazers, who dressed most of their opening night roster, the entire night, before falling 3-2 in a marathon nine-player shootout.

Veteran Brodi Stuart put an end to the proceedings, beating Roman Basran low to the glove side. Kyle Topping for the Rockets and Blazers' Logan Stankoven had earlier scored during the second round of the shootout.

The Rockets went down 2-0 early, but battled back to eventually tie it, and, despite being outshot, had the better of the chances in the final period.

"We were down 2-0 early...I didn't like the way we were down 2-0, but I really like the way (Roman) Basran stayed in it. He didn't lose his focus, and he played hard," said Rockets head coach Adam Foote.

"Our players didn't get discouraged. We kept going, we chipped back. It was a good game."

Trailing 2-0 late in the period, Kyle Crosbie, using Jake Poole as a decoy on a two-on-one, wired a wrist shot past Kamloops starter Rayce Ramsay in the final minute of the period.

The Rockets had numerous chances to tie it, but were unable to beat Ramsay until Czech rookie Pavel Novak netted his first in a Kelowna uniform.

With the Rockets buzzing in the Kamloops end, Novak took a pass in the left circle and sent a shot that appeared to deflect off something and beat Ramsay high to the glove side.

The goal came just moments before Ramsay was knocked hard to the ice when his own defenceman Trevor Thurston rammed Kelowna's Mark Liwiski into the rookie netminder.

Ramsay finished the period, but gave way to Dylan Garand in the third. Ramsay remained in the dressing room for the first half of the third period before finally joining his teammates on the bench.

The Rockets finished pre-season 2-3-0-1, but Foot said pre-season was about more than just wins and losses.

"We've got a long season ahead of us and we have a lot of things we have to look at.

"I thought it was a real good pre-season for our young guys to get into key situations, and some of our players from last year who didn't play big minutes or in key situations to get an opportunity as well."

The Rockets are also without four players expected to play key roles on the team this season.

Forwards Nolan Foote and Dillon Hamaliuk, along with defenceman Kaeden Korczak and Sean Comrie remain at NHL training camps.

It's not certain when the four will rejoin the team.

The Rockets will open up the regular season at home next Saturday night when the Spokane Chiefs come to town.



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Rockets fall to hot Blazers

The Kamloops Blazers remained perfect in pre season WHL action.

The Blazers dumped the visiting Kelowna Rockets 6-1 Friday night, improving their exhibition record to 6-0.

The Rockets fell to 2-3.

Swiss forward Inaki Baragano got the Blazers on the scoreboard first, beating James Porter 15 minutes into the opening frame.

It was the only goal until Logan Stankoven beat Porter just 25 seconds into the third.

The Blazers then broke the game open with three goals in a little more than three minutes early in the third to build a 5-0 lead.

Trailing 6-0 late, Liam Kindree spoiled Dylan Garand's shutout bid with less than two minutes to go.

Porter went the distance for the Rockets, turning aside 36 of 42 shots he faced.

The Rockets were without several regulars. Nolan Foote (Tampa Bay), Kaedan Korczak (Vegas) and Sean Comrie (Philadelphia) remain in NHL training camps while Jake Lee, Kyle Topping and Leif Mattson were held out after just arriving from their respective NHL rookie camps.

The Rockets and Blazers meet again Saturday at Prospera Place in the final pre season game for both teams.



Rockets add Sass to D

The Kelowna Rockets acquired overage defenceman Carson Sass from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for the Rockets tenth round pick at the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft the team announced on Wednesday.

The Red Deer Rebels drafted Sass during the third round (No. 47) of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. He spent the last three seasons with Red Deer where he suited up in 202 games notching 36 points (nine goals, twenty-seven assists) and adding 98 penalty minutes.

Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton says that the 6’1, 190-pound defender will bring a veteran presence on the back end that’s needed.

“Carson has been a solid defensive guy, he’s going to provide us with depth,” said Hamilton. “I felt that we needed to have another older guy on our blueline, he will be able to provide us with that.”

The Rockets will play their final two games of the preseason this weekend during a home and home series with the Kamloops Blazers. They’ll face Kamloops on the road Friday night then host them at Prospera Place at 7:05 pm on Saturday. Two dollars from every ticket sold will be donated to Cops for Kids.



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Rockets power by Cougars

The Kelowna Rockets used a lethal power play to slide past the Prince George Cougars 7-0 in a rare Sunday afternoon tilt at Prospera Place.

The Rockets scored four times on nine chances with the man advantage in the pre season victory.

Kyle Crosbie led the way with a pair of power play goals for the Rockets. Mark Liwiski and Michael Farren also scored with the man advantage.

Deegan Mofford, Ethan Ernst and Dallon Wilton scored even strength goals.

The Rockets led Sunday's contest 3-0 after one and put it away with four more in the second.

Twelve of the 18 Rocket skaters put up at least one point as the club spread the scoring around all four lines.

Cole Schwebius went the distance in goal for the Rockets, turning away all 21 shots he faced for the shutout.

The Rockets are now 2-2 in the pre season.

They wrap up the exhibition season next weekend with a home-and-home against the Kamloops Blazers.

The two teams meet Friday in Kamloops before returning to Prospera Place Saturday.



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