Kelowna’s Ethan Ernst looks for the puck while be guarded by the Vancouver Giants’ Connor Horning. Vancouver defeated Kelowna 4-3 on Dec. 18. (Photo: Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets Images)

Kelowna’s Ethan Ernst looks for the puck while be guarded by the Vancouver Giants’ Connor Horning. Vancouver defeated Kelowna 4-3 on Dec. 18. (Photo: Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets Images)

Undermanned Rockets drop last game before Christmas break

Kelowna fell 4-3 to the Giants Wednesday night

In their first home game in almost three weeks, the Kelowna Rockets undermanned roster fell 4-3 to the Vancouver Giants Wednesday night.

Kelowna was without three top forwards, including Nolan Foote who’s with Team Canada at the World Juniors, Liam Kindree who’s dealing with an injury and Dillon Hamaliuk who’s still out with an illness. The Rockets were also without defenceman Sean Comrie.

Despite the limited roster, the Rockets battled hard against the Giants, with new Kelowna players Matthew Wedman, Conner McDonald and Jadon Joseph contributing on the stat sheet with five points.

Pavel Novak got the opening goal for the Rockets, while Joseph picked up his first in a Kelowna jersey in the third before Wedman added his third as a Rocket. McDonald added three assists in his first game with Kelowna since being acquired on Dec. 14.

The Giants had a goal lead in the dying minutes, but Kelowna’s last efforts weren’t enough to send the game to overtime as Kelowna’s record moves to 14-7-1-2.

Rockets’ general manager Bruce Hamilton said wins in these divisional battles are imperative going down the stretch.

“We’re going to be in against some great teams in our division come playoffs,” said Hamilton.

“As well as two to three really strong U.S. teams, we’re going to have our hands full regardless.”

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Kelowna will now head into the WHL holiday break, which couldn’t come at a better time for the Rockets as the roster looks to get healthy after their long prairie road-trip as well as some R&R with families for the holidays.

The Rockets return to action Dec. 27 as the second half of the season starts.

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