Rockets flush Royals in battle for first place

When the Kelowna Rockets and the Victoria Royals presented their starting lineups for an important B.C. Division game at Prospera Place, there appeared to be one significant mismatch.

Cole Tisdale, 1st WHL start

The Rockets pegged 15-year-old Cole Tisdale to start in goal.

James Porter and Roman Basran are currently sidelined with injuries, and 19-year-old Brodan Salmond was ineffective the previous night at Seattle where the Thunderbirds dispatched Kelowna, 7-2.

Tisdale, whose picture does not even appear on the WHL website yet, received the starting nod via text message early in the day.

At the other end, the Royals would start veteran Griffin Outhouse. Outhouse, an absolute workhorse during his junior career, has appeared in over 140 WHL games. Outhouse had played 2,317 minutes so far this season in 42 appearances.

Through Jan. 19, Tisdale had played a total of 26 minutes, mopping up in Seattle for the Rockets. The Rockets eighth round pick from the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, Tisdale tends the pipes for the Lethbridge Headwater Hurricanes of the Alberta Minor Midget AAA League, a group that has gone 19-3-3 this season.

Given the goaltending matchup alone, the Rockets 8-4 thumping of the Royals was even more of a pleasant surprise for many among the 5,941 in attendance.

Another quick start

Kole Lind, 22nd goal

The Rockets (29-14-2-1) did what they had to do in the first period, providing the rookie netminder with important run support, scoring three goals in the first 8:20.

The big three connected for Kelowna as Kole Lind (22nd), Cal Foote (9th) and Dillon Dube (21st) led the early charge. Lind, who leads the Rockets in scoring, has a point in 15 straight games and 23 of his last 24. In 37 games this season, Lind has hit the scoresheet on 33 occasions.

Tyler Soy, 300th career game

After Tyler Soy replied for Victoria, his 22nd of the season in his 300th career WHL game, Kyle Topping (17th) tallied to give Kelowna a 4-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Matthew Phillips (32nd) and Dante Hannoun (20th) scored power play goals less than two minutes apart in the second stanza to make it a 4-3 affair, setting the stage for the game’s turning point.

With the Royals on yet another power play and in complete possession of the game’s momentum, Nolan Foote fed a streaking Leif Mattson in front of Outhouse and the Rockets 18-year-old forward made a nifty deke to count Kelowna’s fifth shorthanded marker of the season. It was Mattson’s 15th goal of the campaign and gave the Rockets a 5-3 lead.

Kelowna is 24-1-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes.

Jack Cowell, two goals

Jack Cowell (9th) and Carsen Twarynski scored during the first minute of the third period to seal the verdict. Cowell would add an empty netter for the Rockets and the Royals Igor Martynov would add a late goal on a penalty shot.

No love lost

It was a chippy, physical affair between two teams that have a history of dislike for each other. The teams combined of 52 penalty minutes and split two majors.

Kelowna was 2-for-6 on the power play and added a shorthanded goal. Victoria was 3-for-7 with the man advantage.

The teams are through five games in its season series. Kelowna has won three of the five, twice at home and once in Victoria. The Royals (27-17-3-1) have won once at home and once in Kelowna.

The teams meet next month when the Rockets travel to Vancouver Island for a doubleheader on Feb. 9 and 10. The final game between the division rivals goes Feb. 12 in Kelowna.

Post Game Interview: Cole Tisdale – click here

Post Game Interview: Jack Cowell – click here

Ice chips…Kelowna outshot Victoria 42-27…The Rockets have won 16 of their last 17 at home and sit atop the B.C. Division standings with 61 points, three ahead of the Royals and four ahead of the Vancouver Giants.. Kelowna leads the Western Conference standings by one point over the Everett Silvertips…The Rockets have games in hand on all three of these teams…..Three stars were Cowell, Mattson and Tisdale…Announced attendance of 5,941 brings the Rockets total on the season to 111,430 according to the WHL website. Through 22 homes games, that’s an average of 5,065…Rockets scratched Erik Gardiner, Liam Kindree, Kelvin Hair, Wil Kushniryk, Porter and Basran….The Rockets travel to Alberta now, and play in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer. Next home game is Jan. 30 against the Tigers.

(DUBNetwork thanks Kevin Bain and the Kelowna Rockets for the audio/video)

Glen Erickson

WHL supporter for more than 40 years. Spent the past 11 years in Kelowna, B.C. as WHL Writer for Hockey’s Future, collaborating on prospect rankings, covered two World Junior Championships, four Top Prospects Games, and a handful of Canada/Russia Super Series events. Still feel the sting from my beloved Saskatoon Blades never winning a league title, but enjoyed witnessing the Kelowna Rockets win two WHL championships on home ice. The passion of the players continues to draw me to the rink.