The Kelowna Rockets outshot the Winnipeg ICE on Wednesday night, but they couldn’t find a way to beat Liam Hughes until the game was basically already in the books.
Backed by a two-goal performance from Connor McClennon, the ICE continued to cruise on home ice by beating the Rockets, 3-1, in front of 1621 fans inside of the Wayne Fleming Arena.
“We were just really responsible on Wednesday night and we really bought into the system and guys played different roles,” said McClennon after the game courtesy of winnipegice.ca. “We played to our structure and it worked out.”
“I thought we did a lot of good things on the defensive side of the puck,” said James Patrick.
It took nearly 40 minutes to find a goal in the game as both Hughes and Cole Schwebius locked things down. With 2:44 left in the second, McClennon scored his first of the game and 11th of the season.
That goal saw Winnipeg up 1-0 after two periods and Hughes was a big reason why. He turned away all 21 shots he faced. Schwebius, meanwhile, turned away 11-of-12 shots.
Connor McClennon added another early in the third. He scored his second goal of the night at the 4:37 mark. Jakin Smallwood would make it 3-0 with 9:43 left in the final period.
McClennon joined forces with Smallwood on a line once again for the game.
“Jakin is a really easy guy to play with. He works hard, he never gives up and he’s wearing a letter for a reason,” said McClennon.
Kelowna would cut into the deficit a short time later as Jake Lee scored his third of the campaign with 7:18 left in the third. However, that would be as close as Kelowna would get.
Hughes would lock it down the rest of the way and he made 11 saves in all in the third period.
With the win, Winnipeg has now won eight straight games on home ice. That includes a perfect 5-0 homestand.
They will now head on the road for a pair of road games. They’re in Prince Albert on Friday and they take on Regina on Sunday.
With their 18-11-1 record, Winnipeg is just five points back of Prince Albert for first in the East Division.
With all of the success they’ve had on home ice, Connor hopes to use that on the road.
“We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” concluded McClennon. “We have to play the same way on the road as we do on home ice.”
Kelowna, meanwhile, is 17-9-1 and they’re four points back of Kamloops for the top spot in the B.C. Division. They still own a 3-1 record on their road trip and they play Regina and Moose Jaw this weekend to wrap it up.
- Both teams were perfect on the penalty kill. Kelowna went 5-for-5 while Winnipeg was 4-for-4.
- Winnipeg now has 11 wins on the road this season which is tied for the second-most in the league.
- Despite losing, Kelowna’s nine wins on the road are the fifth most in the league.