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Kelowna Rockets earned 3rd regulation win since Christmas

Mallette wins in debut

The Kelowna Rockets rewarded new interim head coach Kris Mallette with a victory in his first game running the bench.

Mallette, who replaced Adam Foote Wednesday, guided the Rockets to a 3-2 victory over the Victoria Royals Friday to open a four-game road trip.

Rookie Pavel Novak scored what proved to be the game winner late in the third period.

The goal, that gave Kelowna a 3-1 lead, loomed large when the Royals closed the gap just 39 seconds later.

The Rockets ran out the final three minutes to earn just their third regulation-time win since they returned from the Christmas break.

The game was scoreless through the first 34 minutes. Dillon Hamaliuk put an end to that when he stole the puck behind the Victoria net, circled into the low slot and beat Connor Martin with a backhand along the ice.

It was his third goal in four games.

Jake Lee doubled the lead minutes later. Off a faceoff in the Royals end, Matthew Wedman won the draw cleanly to Hamaliuk who tapped the puck back to Lee at the left point.

His wrist shot seemed to hit something and evade Martin. The assist was the 200th point of Wedman's WHL career.

The Royals got one back midway through the third, but with less than four minutes to go, Wedman and Jake Poole outbattled three Victoria defenders for the puck along the boards behind the Royals net.

Wedman found Novak in front. His initial shot was stopped, but Novak buried the rebound for his 21st of the season.

Roman Basran turned away 34 shots for his 19th win of the season.

The Rockets and Royals meet again Saturday in the provincial capital, before Kelowna heads north for games Tuesday and Wednesday in Prince George.



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