T-Birds fly, Rockets crash

The start to the season for the Kelowna Rockets has reached historic proportions.

Following Wednesday's 9-6 debacle against the Seattle Thunderbirds, the Rockets record dropped to 1-8.

It's the worst start in franchise history and the first time the team has begun a season 0-5 on home ice.

There was some room for optimism heading into Wednesday's rematch with the T-Birds. Kelowna looked more resilient and had more jump in a 4-3 home loss to Victoria last Friday and peppered Seattle netminder Liam Hughes with 45 shots in a 4-1 loss Saturday.

That optimism fizzled Wednesday as Seattle took period leads of 5-2 and 8-4.

Rockets head coach Jason Smith was understandably disappointed and frustrated after the effort, but said it now goes beyond that.

"I would hope it's more embarrassing for the players. You can't control the amount of effort they put in, and as players, you need to come prepared to put your best effort forward," said Smith.

"That's what playing a team sport is about, that's what playing in this league is about. It's about coming and putting an effort forward every night and giving yourself a chance to win the game. With the effort and compete from the majority of our group, we're lucky the score is what it was."

Smith said he could count on one hand the number of players who came with the effort,compete and structure

Leif Mattson scored twice and had a pair of assists for the Rockets in a losing effort. Kyle Topping had four assists while Nolan Foote had a goal and an assist as they remain the only Rockets who have proved capable of carrying the offensive load.

Lassie Thomson scored his fourth, a highlight reel top shelf snipe from a sharp angle while Connor Bruggen-Cate and Kyle Crosbie also found the back of the net.

James Porter got the start in goal, but was pulled after Seattle's fourth goal 16 minutes into the game. He stopped seven of 11 shots he faced.

Roman Basran went the rest of the way, allowing the other five goals on 26 shots.

Noah Philp scored four times for the T-Birds, three coming with the man advantage. Simon Kubicek had a pair while Zach Andrusiak and Andrej Kukuca both had a goal and two helpers.

The Rockets penalty kill was torched for four goals on five chances Wednesday. It's the third straight game the team has given up three or more short handed goals.

They have surrendered 12 goals in their last 21 times shorthanded over the last four games.

Smith talked after the game about practice and in-game habits. He said the team has been good in games in spurts, but not consistent enough.

"Generally, our habits in practice are fairly good, and we show the mindset that we know what we are trying to accomplish.

"I think the biggest thing is in games, we have either hesitation, or a lack of compete, or a fear of making mistakes which makes it really hard to go out and play."

The Rockets hit the road for another tough weekend against another US Division rival. They play in Kennewick, WA Friday before hosting the same Tri-City Americans Saturday.

"Ahead," said Smith when asked about how they get ready for the next test.

"We can't worry what's happened now. We'll get on the bus...I'm sure there will be some video sessions on the bus ride, and we'll talk about how we are going to be better.

"We'll try and mix up a new potion to motive and make sure the guys are ready to play."

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