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Carson Golder had a natural hat trick leading the Rockets past Vancouver Saturday

Rocket Golder turns trick

Kelowna Rockets head coach Kris Mallette challenged his best players to be better Saturday night.

They were all of that and then some.

The top line of Gabriel Szturc, Carson Golder and Adam Kydd combined for four goals and five assists in a convincing 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants at Prospera Place.

It was just their second win on home ice in 11 games and seventh in 21 overall. The win was also just their third in 15 games since the Christmas break.

The game was tied 1-1 after one and the Rockets led 2-1 before exploding in a dominant third

"It was a little touch and go to say the least, but boy in the third period did they come out to play," said Mallette.

"I challenged quite a few guys. Early we were trying to be something we weren't, forcing plays...refusing to buy into those little habits and little details.

"Credit to the group. As the game wore on they got better and better and saw the rewards from it."

Marcus Pacheco opened the scoring for the Rockets before Dylan Anderson equalized on the power play just past the midway point of the first.

The Rockets top line took over from there

Szturc scored what proved to be the game winner 8 minutes into the second. Golder won a race for the puck in the offensive corner, circled the net and spotted Szturc positioned in the low slot.

The Rockets captain returned the favour and more in the third.

After Golder had upped the lead to 3-1, it was Szturc who did the work digging the puck out of a scrum in the corner before spotting his linemate in front for an easy tap in.

"He's a shooter. He's got a shooters mentality," said Szturc of Golder.

"You could see that tonight. That hat trick was well deserved."

Golder completed the natural hat trick with an empty net goal with under three minutes left.

Jari Kykkanen, making his first start in two weeks turned away 29 shots to earn the victory.

He was especially sharp in the second period making a handful of key saves to keep the game close and give the offence the chance to do their thing.

"He's a hell of a goalie. He was pretty calm back there. He's our goalie of the future," said Mallette.

"Tonight was Jari being Jari which was great. To get a win for our group and for him to be a part of it is a credit to him and a credit to our room."

Rookie Ismail Abougouche once again added to his growing reputation around the league as one of the toughest pugilists in the league.

Abougouche, just 16, earned a unanimous decision in a spirited tilt with Tyler Thorpe in the final minute, despite giving up three inches and about 20 pounds to his larger opponent.

"He is a young player at 16 that, give him some time and he could be very feared in this league.

"Look at his game, last night he played 20 minutes, tonight probably another 15 to 18. It's great for us in the back end to have that type of player that will stick up for his teammates and take a number if things go sideways.

The win allowed the Rockets to remain in an eighth place tie with the Victoria Royals in the west after they edged Kamloops 3-2 Saturday.

The Rockets are off until Friday when they host the same Giants.

They'll finally face someone not named the Giants Saturday when they host the Prince Albert Raiders. Then it's three straight against the Cougars.



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