The Rockets celebrate a goal from Saturday’s game. Photo: Twitter

Rockets hold off Tri-City and win in shootout

The Rockets were up 3-0 but came out with the big home ice win

The Kelowna Rockets were fortunate to earn two points Wednesday night with a 4-3 shootout win against the Tri-City Americans. The Rockets were up 3-1 at the start of the third period, but held off the American’s to ensure the win. After a hard fought over time loss on Saturday against Saskatoon, the Rockets were in need of a home ice win.

Rockets defense-man Kaedan Korczak knows the team needs to keep up the pace.

“We’ve made a push in the last couple games, and we’re playing good hockey right now,” Korczak said. “You can expect us to keep it up. Every team is a good team so we got to bring it every night.”

It was a slow pace to start on Wednesday night, but the Rockets, who seem to build off home ice energy, struck first. A tag team fore-check effort from Kyle Topping and Erik Gardiner resulted in the puck on Gardiner’s stick, then his skate, and then in the back of the net past the Americans’ goalie Talyn Boyko, who’s only 16. The Americans weren’t able to establish any real offence in the period to challenge Rockets’ goalie James Porter, who makes his 12th start of the season. Liam Kindree would add to the Rockets lead after line-mate Nolan Foote gained the zone and dropped it off for Kindree, who buried his own rebound past Boyko to give the Rockets a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.

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The Rockets launched into the second period with Nolan Foote getting his 17th goal of the campaign less than two minutes into the period. From there, the Rockets would cruise through the period controlling most of the play with a comfy 3-0 lead.

But, with two minutes left in the second, Topping took a high sticking penalty resulting in a four minute penalty. The Americans would gets a lucky bounce of their own as a point shot made multiple deflections as it went past Porter. The Rockets would lead 3-1 to start the third, but would start it short-handed for the first two minutes.

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With a man advantage to start the third period, the Americans didn’t seem to push a fast game plan, and even when Korczak took a delay of game penalty to give Tri-City a 2-man advantage, the Americans still played with a slow pace. The Rockets would go on to kill the penalties, but allow momentum to shift in the visiting team’s favour. Another Rockets’ penalty would give Tri-City the opportunity they needed to make it a one goal game as Parker Aucoin would score his second of the night and make it a 3-2 game.

Only down one goal, the Americans started to finally play with the pace of a team that has won 14 games this season. They controlled the play as the Rockets looked to bide enough time to try and come out with the win. Tri-City’s pressure would prove too much for the Rockets as a lapse in defensive coverage led to the equalizing goal from Aaron Hyman.

The game was heading to overtime.

A thrilling OT and a huge last minute stop by Porter wouldn’t give the game it’s final conclusion as a shootout was needed to determine the victor. After Kindree missed and Foote scored, it was Lief Mattson who would dangle one past Boyko to ensure a Rockets win.

The Rockets record improves to 13-15-2 with 28 points and will fight for another two crucial points when division rivals Victoria Royals visit Dec. 7. The Royals sit in second in the B.C division and the Rockets will be looking to move into that second spot with a win on Friday night.

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