Kelowna Rockets stay perfect on road trip, win in shootout

Rockets late game heroics

Two of the Kelowna Rockets lesser lights shone bright at the right time Saturday.

Trevor Wong and Ethan Ernst provided the late-game heroics, allowing the Rockets to skate out of Saskatoon with a 4-3 shootout victory.

It was the second straight to open up the Rockets six-game East Division road trip.

Trailing 3-2 with under three minutes to go in regulation, Nolan Foote, in the slot, found Wong open in the left faceoff circle. His one-timer beat Nolan Maier for his third of the season, sending the game to overtime.

The extra period was scoreless, necessitating a shootout to decide it.

Ernst, the Rockets first shooter, circled from the right wing, slowed as he got close to the net, and deked to the backhand for the only goal either team would score in the skills competition.

As they did the night before in Prince Albert, the Rockets opened the scoring after a scoreless opening 20.

Michael Farren circled the Saskatoon net, turned to his forehand, and beat Maier from the bottom on the right circle.

The Blades bounced back with two to grab a 2-1 lead before Foote tied it with five minutes to go in the second.

The Blades again retook the lead late in the period, setting up the Rockets late game heroics.

Cole Schwebius turned away 25 shots to earn the victory with friends and family in attendance.

The Rockets get a few days off before resuming their road trip Tuesday in Brandon.

Rockets captain Nolan Foote will leave the team in the next few days for Canada's world junior evaluation camp. If he secures a spot on the roster, it means Foote won't return to the team until early in the new year.

While Foote departs the team, the Rockets will welcome back rookie Pavel Novak Tuesday.

Novak has completed his league imposed eight game suspension.


Kelowna Rockets edged Prince Albert 2-1 to kickoff six-game trip

Rockets open trip with win

Matthew Wedman made his presence felt less than 24 hours after the Kelowna Rockets acquired him in a deal with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The overage centre, who joined the club in Prince Albert prior to game time, assisted on the game-winning goal as the Rockets opened their six-game East Division road trip with a 2-1 victory over the division-leading Raiders.

With the game tied at one and the Rockets on the power play, Wedman took a pass near the right endline, and skated toward the top of the faceoff circle.

He sent a return pass to Kaeden Korczak at the point who the slid a pass to Nolan Foote in the left circle. His wrist shot found the far corner for what turned out to be the game winner.

Dallon Wilton, a healthy scratch for much of the season, scored his second of the season in just his ninth game of the campaign. However, due to injuries, Wilton has dressed in five straight contests.

Alex Swetlikoff did much of the work on the goal, driving to the net hard off the right wing. His backhand from a sharp angle was stopped, however the rebound popped out to Wilton parked in front of the net. He banged it home to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead nearly four minutes into the second.

Ozzy Wiesblatt tied it six minutes into the third on a Raiders power play.

Roman Basran, named the league's top goaltender in each of the past two weeks, was named the game's first star, turning away 26 of the 27 shots he faced as PA outshot the Rockets 27-15.

The Rockets went 1-8 with the man advantage, and also dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 31 of the 52 draws on the night. Wedman helped in that category as well, winning 12 of his 16 faceoffs.

The loss was just the second time the Raiders have lost in regulation time on home ice this season.

The Rockets continue their six-game road trip Saturday in Saskatoon.

The game will serve as likely the last one Foote will take part in until the new year.

Foote will leave after the game for Team Canada's world junior selection camp.

While Foote leaves after the game, the Rockets will welcome back forward Pavel Novak when they play the third game of the road trip Tuesday in Brandon.

Novak has already served seven games of an eight-game suspension for a checking -from-behind penalty assessed Nov. 11 in Kamloops.

Kelowna Rockets trade Leif Mattson in one of two deals Thursday

Rockets turn over new Leif

The Kelowna Rockets roster shakeup continues.

President and GM Bruce Hamilton made a pair of moves Thursday involving overage players.

In one move, the Rockets sent three draft picks to the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for 20-year-old forward Matthew Wedman.

In 19 games with the T-Birds this season, Wedman has amassed six goals, 11 assists and 41 penalty minutes.

Over five seasons, all with Seattle, Wedman collected 75 goals and 100 assists in 275 games.

The Rockets gave up a first round bantam pick in 2023, a second round selection in 2022 and fifth rounder in 2020.

To make room for Wedman, the Rockets sent 20-year-old forward Leif Mattson to the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for a 2020 third round bantam selection.

"We feel that we've really strengthened our hockey club with Matthew Wedman and Jadon Joseph down the middle," said Hamilton.

"We've been pursuing Wedman for six weeks, it's been a long grind of negotiations and we knew it was going to cost picks. He's going to elevate our team in leadership and scoring. He's the captain of the Thunderbirds, he brings leadership and a big physical presence.

"He scored 40 goals last season, we're looking for him to add some offence to our team and help him pursue his career to become a pro player."

This is the second significant trade between the Rockets and T-Birds.

At the bantam draft, the Rockets acquired defenceman Jake Lee, forward Dillon Hamaliuk and goaltender Cole Schwebius in a deal for forward Connor Bruggen-Cate and three draft picks.

"Any time you make a move with overages, unfortunately, someone is moving. Leif has been a great player for us, he competed hard and is a solid person.

We've made a move that I think will be good for him, he'll fit in well in Spokane. I think if there's a place to go, this is a great place, he's going to slot right into their top-six. We want to thank Leif for everything he has done for the Rockets and wish him well in the future."

Wedman is expected to join the Rockets when they begin their six-game Eastern Division road trip tonight in Prince Albert.


Roman Basran is again the WHL's top goalie of the week

Basran a two-peat winner

Roman Basran has been on quite a roll of late.

The 18-year-old Kelowna Rocket netminder was named Tuesday the WHL's top goaltender of the week for the second straight week.

Basran allowed just two goals over his two starts this past week to earn top honours.

Despite being the loser of record, Basran recorded his first shutout of the season during a 1-0 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings to kick off the week.

He stopped all 27 shots he faced during 65 minutes of work, surrendering just a single goal in the shootout.

Saturday, Basran turned away 19 of 21 shots in a 3-2 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars.

In all, he recorded a 0.96 goals against average and 0.958 save percentage over those two games.

Meantime, earlier in the day, the Rockets announced defenceman Cayde Augustine had been dealt to the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Augustine, who went undrafted in the bantam draft, was listed by the Rockets in 2017.

He played 55 games last season, recording two goals and six assists.

Augustine has been a healthy scratch for much of this season, dressing for just six games.

The Rockets received a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2023 bantam draft in return.

Kelowna will hit the road later this week for their annual December prairie road trip.

Their six-game swing through the Eastern Division begins Friday night in Prince Albert.

The Raiders lead the east with 18 wins and 40 points through their first 27 games.

The 14-8-1-2 Rockets are second in the BC Division, four points in back of division leading Kamloops. The Blazers have played two more games.

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