Break out the oldies tunes.
It’s Sixteen Candles time in the Okanagan.
The Kelowna Rockets defeated the Victoria Royals 6-1 Wednesday night at Prospera Place to record their 16th consecutive Western Hockey League home victory. It was also Kelowna’s seventh consecutive win overall and 13th in the last 14 games to push to 30-10-2.
The Rockets, chasing the all-time club record of 18 straight home wins set in 2002-03, had also victimized the Royals for No. 15 last week.
It didn’t get any better last night for the Royals as they slipped to 20-16-3.
“[The Rockets] were missing some key guys tonight but they have depth and goaltending,” said Royals head coach Dave Lowry.
He described the Rockets as “predictable.”
But in a good way.
“They don’t change their game,” said Lowry. “They skate hard and roll four lines and six defencemen. This is exactly what a team is all about.”
After a scoreless first period, the Rockets flared for a five-goal second period to show why they are ranked No. 5 in this week’s BMO Mastercard Canadian Hockey League top-10 poll.
“We got away from playing our game and Kelowna took control,” said Lowry.
“We couldn’t push back. When you are outshot 16-5 [like Victoria was in the second period], you are not skating and not advancing the puck and are spending way too much time in your own end.”
It was 2-0 before the second period was two minutes old as Kelowna’s Myles Bell, on the power play with his 27th goal of the season, and Carter Rigby counted. The Rocket goals kept coming fast and furious with Damon Severson, MacKenzie Johnston and Zach Franko, the latter on the power play with his 18th of the season, before the horn mercifully sounded for Victoria to end the middle period with Kelowna holding a 5-0 lead and 30-11 shots advantage after two frames.
Lanky forward Trent Lofthouse, acquired in a trade last week from the Everett Silvertips, scored his first goal for the Royals and 10th of the season to finally get Victoria on the board at 6:32 of the third period. Ryan Olsen of Kelowna concluded the scoring.
Patrik Polivka made 32 saves for Victoria, while Jordon Cooke was barely stressed in making 17 for Kelowna.
The Royals now head to Washington state for a set beginning Friday night in Everett against the Silvertips (16-24-2) and concluding Saturday evening in Seattle against the Thunderbirds (16-23-3). The ’Tips and T-Birds hold down the last two playoff berths in the WHL’s Western Conference with points becoming of greater urgency.
Everett fired head coach Mark Ferner this week and will have general manager Garry Davidson behind the bench when the Royals visit Friday. Davidson formerly coached and managed in the B.C. Hockey League with the Victoria Salsa (now Grizzlies), Nanaimo Clippers and Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
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