Rockets win, not pretty

The Kelowna Rockets continue to find ways to make games closer than they really should be.

Three times this week, the Rockets held commanding leads, only to watch the opposition come roaring back to make a game of it.

Saturday, the Rockets were in complete command with a 3-0 lead over the Kamloops Blazers. Then they stopped playing.

Kamloops led 4-3 after two and 5-4 with less than seven minutes to go before goals from Carsen Twarynski on a power play and Leif Mattson with 2:13 to go allowed the Rockets to pull out another victory.

"I think we've got some soul-searching to do in the room. We have to buy in, we can't let these teams hang around," said veteran defenceman Gordie Ballhorn.

"We have to figure out how to shut teams out and put them to bed. We can't keep letting them back into hockey games."

Head coach Jason said the Rockets weren't mentally in the game after taking the 3-0 lead.

"I think we started to cheat. We were thinking it would be easy because it was 3-0.

"They're a team that plays no matter what the score is. They're well-coached, they play hard, they compete, and we took our foot off the pedal, and soon we were behind."

Dillon Dube got the Rockets on the board with the only two goals of the opening period. Connor Bruggen-Cate with his 17th on a wrist shot from the slot made it 3-0 early in the second on a power play.

The comeback began just past the midway point of the second. Jermaine Loewen, a thorn in the Rockets' side all night, converted a give-and-go, then 21 seconds later, Luc Smith scored on a two-on-one, and the momentum was all Kamloops.

Nick Chyzowski battled the puck out of midair on a Kamloops power play to tie it, then Nolan Kneen gave the Blazers a one goal lead with a one-timer from the left circle.

Leif Mattson, who had another strong game for the Rockets, was credited with the tying goal when former Rocket Joe Gatenby inadvertently swiped at the puck in the crease and knocked it into his own net. The goal was shorthanded.

Moments later on the same power play Orrin Centazzo beat Brodan Salmond to restore the one-goal lead.

Twarynski with the equalizer and Mattson with the winner closed out the scoring, but not the excitement.

With time winding down and the Rockets on a power play, Dube coughed the puck up in his own end, causing a few tense moments inside the Rockets end.

They were able to kill off the final seconds, but, as the buzzer went, Loewen appeared to hit someone late in the corner which attracted everyone on the ice, including Salmond, who tried to get at Loewen, and engaged Smith briefly.

Eight game misconducts and 86 minutes in penalties were handed out as a result.

The Rockets outshot Kamloops 37-28, and scored on three of their six opportunities with the man advantage.

Despite the way they've won, the Rockets have still won three-in-a-row, and have opened a seven point lead on the Victoria Royals atop the BC Division.

The Rockets now hit the road for back-to-back games in Prince George Tuesday and Wednesday and Everett Friday. They return home to host Spokane Saturday.

"By sitting them on the bench the next time they take bad penalties. That's probably the best way to do it."

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