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Jari Kykkanen led the Kelowna Rockets past Victoria Wednesday

Rockets return with shutout

There's no better way to bounce back from a nightmarish outing than to have one of your best games of the season.

That was the case for Kelowna Rockets goaltender Jari Kykkanen Wednesday night at Prospera Place.

Coming off a night where he allowed seven goals in barely half a game last Friday in Portland, Kykkanen rebounded in a big way turned aside all 23 shots he faced in a 2-0 victory over the Victoria Royals.

It was his second shutout of the season.

"It feels really good. It's nice to get back on track especially after the last couple of games we've had," said Kykkanen.

"It's a great feeling. Can't beat it."

Those last couple of games saw the Rockets surrender 19 goals over two games at the end of a three-game US Division road trip last week.

"It's not very fun getting beat that bad. We knew it was a big game, we're trying to catch them in the standings so it's easy to motivate ourselves.

"It was a big four-point game so now we have to keep rolling."

The Rockets held the Royals to just 10 shots through the first 40 minutes before Victoria pushed forward in the third.

"We struggled on that road trip. We talked about it as a group, we learned from it and tonight the sacrifice was huge within our group," said head coach Kris Mallette.

"If we did break down like you said there was a blocked shot here or there. I really liked our battle, our stick battles and 50-50's. I thought we carried the play there against a team that is really hungry.

After a slow start to the game Mallette says he thought the team got better and carried much of the play over the course of the 60 minutes.

Offensively, the Rockets did all their damage in the first period.

Tij Iginla scored what turned out to be the game winner on a power play eight minutes into the game.

He circled through the slot before getting off a shot from the left faceoff circle. Jayden Kraus made the initial save but Iginla was there to deposit the rebound for his 35th of the season.

It was one of nine shots Iginla directed toward Kraus who was busy much of the night.

Hiroki Gojsic doubled the lead five minutes later.

Michael Cicek did much of the work off the rush before springing Gojsic just inside the blueline. Gojsic's quick shot found a seam between Kraus' body and arm.

Both goaltenders took over the rest of the way.

Victoria's best chance came midway through the second period when Kykkanen was forced to move to his left, then quickly to his right to thwart a Victoria chance.

As spectacular as the lunge, Kykkanen admitted the shot hit the outside of the post.

The win, the 23rd of the season for the Rockets, snapped a two game losing streak.

They'll try to build on Wednesday's effort when they face the Western Conference cellar-dwelling Kamloops Blazers this weekend.

The two teams meet in Kamloops Friday before a return engagement Saturday at Prospera Place.



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