It was a tough Friday night for some Okanagan-based hockey teams and their fans.
The Kelowna Rockets fell 7-3 in a quickly forgettable game to the Portland Winterhawks while the West Kelowna Warriors came just minutes short of securing points against the Trail Smoke Eaters in a 5-4 heartbreaking loss.
Both teams will return to the ice this weekend with the Rockets hosting a rematch with the Winterhawks Saturday night while the Warriors pick up action Sunday in Penticton against the red-hot Vees.
The Rockets took on one of the hottest teams in the WHL in the Winterhawks. Portland bested Kelowna twice in mid-January and Kelowna was looking to show some resilience in Friday night’s rematch.
After going down three goals early in the first period, the Rockets clawed back to get within one thanks to goals from Kaedan Korczak and Ethan Ernst.
Kelowna, still missing key players due to injuries, were out-shot 33 to 20 and were unable to muster much more offence in the second half of the game as Portland notched four more goals.
Nolan Foote, Sean Comrie, Devin Steffler, Michael Farren, Matthew Wedman and Liam Kindree remain out for the Rockets.
Kelowna will take another shot at the Winterhawks Saturday night at Prospera Place.
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) February 8, 2020
In Trail, West Kelowna was playing one of their best games of the season before the Smoke Eaters shocked the Warriors with four goals in the third period to steal the win after being down 3-1 to West Kelowna at the start of the final frame.
Trail’s Kent Johnson, one of the hottest players in the BCHL, was again dynamite for the Smoke Eaters, notching a hat-trick as well as a highlight of the season with a lacrosse-style goal from behind the net, his second scored goal like that this year.
— Trail Smoke Eaters (@BCHLSmokeEaters) February 8, 2020
Elan Bar Lev Wise scored his first two goal for the Warriors since being acquired in a trade in January. West Kelowna’s Holden Kodak and Colby Elmer notched the other two goals.
With only six games remaining in the season and West Kelowna still fighting for an optimal playoff position, the near-win stings just a bit more as Trail stole one from right under the Warriors’ noses.
The Warriors will visit the conference-leading Penticton Vees on Sunday before their next home game, a rematch against Trail, on Feb. 17.
On the winning side of the ice on Friday night was the Kelowna Chiefs.
Rutland’s team cruised to a 9-3 win over the Creston Valley Thundercats to notch their 27th win of the season to stay atop the Okanagan/Shuswap conference of the KIJHL.
The Chiefs continue their final stretch to the playoffs Saturday night against the Columbia Valley Rockies before returning home for the season finale on Feb. 22.
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