Rockets subdue Oil Kings

There is one important question that every loyal sports fan will have to ask at some point after watching their favorite team on display. And that is:

Would you rather your favorite team win ugly or lose ugly?

It would seem an obvious answer.

Was it a matter of the Kelowna Rockets doing “just enough” to win last night?

Or, did the Edmonton Oil Kings play a prototypical boring road game?

In any event, the Rockets posted a 5-2 win to boost its record to 11-6-2-1, good for second place in the B.C. Division. The loss was Edmonton’s seventh in a row, dropping the Central Division basement dwellers to 5-13-2.

“I think we started the game well, in the first period we had lots of jump and energy,” said Rockets head coach Jason Smith.

Dillon Dube, 2G, 1A

Dillon Dube took a pass from Carsen Twarynski and on the ensuing breakaway beat goaltender Travis Child 25 seconds into the game.

Then at 4:22, Child attempted to clear the puck out of the Oil Kings zone, only to have the puck hit one of his team mates. The Rockets Nolan Foote corralled the puck inside the blueline and moved it to Kole Lind as he cruised through the slot. Lind, the Rockets leading scorer, then sifted a nifty behind-the-back pass to Kyle Topping, who beat Child along the ice for his eighth of the season to give the Rockets a 2-0 lead.

“Any time you score a goal early in a period it’s good for momentum and the energy on your bench,” Smith said. “The guys have really talked about it between periods, to make sure we’re coming out ready to play. It was good to start the game the right way.”

Despite the two-goal lead, the Rockets surrendered a goal midway through the first frame when the Oil Kings gained the attacking zone. At 10:49, Trey Fix-Wolansky converted the tic-tac-toe effort from Davis Koch and Tomas Soustal when he one-timed a shot that beat James Porter stick side.

Two minutes later, Kelowna would regain the lead for good at 12:59 when Gordie Ballhorn chipped the puck along the boards in the neutral zone. Dillon Dube picked up the disc outside the Oil Kings blueline, raced in on net and placed a shot high glove for his 10th of the season.

Child was solid in the second stanza, making 13 saves to keep the Oil Kings close. At 8:21, Koch took a pass from Colton Kehler, moved in on Porter and lifted a shot high glove side to make it a 3-2 game. It was a power play goal, the only special teams effort of the night by either team.

Koch and Fix-Wolansky collected two points apiece on the night for Edmonton.

The Rockets would add a pair of goals in the third period, both by Twarynski.

Carsen Twarynski, 2G, 1A

Just 18 seconds in, Dube wreaked havoc inside the Oil Kings zone and created a loose puck. Dube dished a short pass to Twarynski at the top of the crease and the Philadelphia Flyers draft pick made no mistake, potting his 11th of the season to give the Rockets some breathing room.

Then with 42 seconds left, Twarynski iced the affair, winning a race to the puck and depositing an empty-netter to wrap up the scoring.

Twarynski and Dube each finished with two goals and an assist, while linemate Liam Kindree added a pair of helpers.

While the game would not likely score high by any entertainment value criteria, Smith was clear after the game that there was plenty of competitive play at ice level.

“The game was pretty competitive on the ice” Smith said. “There was some chirping between the benches and guys were engaged.

“Just because it’s not all flashy, physical play, that doesn’t mean the game isn’t full of energy. I think the teams competed and it was a decent hockey game”.

Over on Vancouver Island, the Red Deer Rebels snapped its six-game losing streak with a 5-3 decision over the Victoria Royals. The Royals (14-7-1) continue to lead the B.C. Division standings, four points ahead of the Rockets. Kelowna has two games in hand.

Rockets Fuel…Kelowna outshot Edmonton, 29-23…Three stars were Dube, Twarynski and Koch…Scratches were Kelvin Hair, Konrad Belcourt, Erik Gardiner, Kyle Pow, Colum MacGauley, Brodan Salmond…The Rockets are 7-3-0-1 at home and have now won six straight at Prospera Place after winning only once in its first five at home…The tilt was the Rockets first game this season played on a Tuesday at Prospera Place and announced attendance was 4,326. According to the WHL website, the Rockets have drawn 48,428 fans through 11 home games – an average of 4,795 per night. The largest crowd of the season was 5,238 on opening night against the Kamloops Blazers…Next game is Friday at 7:05pm against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

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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.