Kelowna Rockets complete weekend sweep of Victoria to open WHL pre season

Rockets drub Royals, again

The Kelowna Rockets made it a clean sweep over visiting Victoria to kick off the Western Hockey League pre season schedule.

Using virtually the same lineup that beat the Royals 7-3 Friday, Kelowna again dominated the visitors in a 4-1 victory

Fewer than 1,000 fans took in Saturday's game at Prospera Place, a facility that requires everyone entering to show proof of full vaccination from COVID-19.

As was the case Friday night, the game was sloppy, choppy and chippy for the most part, typical of early on in the pre season schedule.

Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton says he liked what he saw out of his young team, but admitted they showed a bit of fatigue after playing on back-to-back nights following a long two week training camp.

"They're probably ready for a day off tomorrow, recharge the batteries, and come back to work Monday," said Hamilton.

"You get to the point where they've been in camp for a long time and you need to get a little break."

Gabriel Szturc, one of five rookies dressed by head coach Kris Mallette, showed why the Rockets thought highly of him when they selected the Czech forward with the 44th selection of the CHL import draft..

Szturc opened the scoring just 26 seconds into Saturday's contest, grabbing a loose puck near the Victoria net and jamming it between the post and goaltender Tyler Palmer in the Victoria net.

It was Szturc's second goal in as many nights.

Hamilton says Szturc is still adjusting to the time difference and a new home. And, once countryman Pavel Novak returns from the Minnesota Wild training camp, he'll have someone to communicate with

Jake Lee doubled the lead in the opening minute of the second, banging home a rebound. It stood up as the game winner.

Less than two minutes later, the rockets converted on their only power play of the night when Jake Poole wired a wrist shot high to the glove side from the low slot.

Defenceman Will Irvine closed out the Rockets scoring with a shot from the point off a faceoff in the Victoria end.

Cage Newans tipped home a centering pass past Cole Tisdale, spoiling the Rockets bid for a shutout.

Tisdale and Nicholas Cristiano shared the netminding chores Saturday.

Cristiano turned aside all 11 shots he faced in the opening period before making way for Tisdale, who played the final 40 minutes.

Defencemen Noah Dorey and Tyson Feist, as well as forwards Novak and Trevor Wong are in NHL camps, while forward Mark Liwiski is out with an injury. Goaltender Cole Schwebius was the third goaltender and did not dress.

The Rockets close out their pre season schedule with back-to-back games against the Blazers next weekend.

They'll play in Kamloops before hosting the Blazers Saturday.

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