Despite coaching for different teams, Ryan Huska and John Becanic were on the same page on Saturday night.
After Kelowna posted a 2-1 victory over Vancouver at Prospera Place, Huska, the Rockets’ head coach, and Becanic, recently hired on by the Giants as an assistant coach, said almost the same thing when asked to sum up the contest. Both said they were looking for how hard their players were willing to work, and that pre-season play isn’t about wins and losses, but more about character.
It was the second meeting in 24 hours between the two B.C. rivals, with Kelowna beating Vancouver 4-2 in Ladner on Friday.
(Photo: Vancouver Giants defenceman David Musil, who hit a post late in the second period with a shot from the blue-line.)
Huska said that Kelowna was looking for “work ethic. We haven’t really had a practice at all with our group. It went from scrimmaging in (main) camp to two exhibition games. So it was about working and skating hard.
“That’s what we want to get across to our players, to make sure that they’re always competing hard.”
From Vancouver’s perspective, Becanic said “we’re just trying to get better every day. Everybody’s playing different types of rosters, so every day you’re trying to get better. We get back to work on Monday and try to improve on what we did.
“A lot of guys are getting their first games in the Dub, and, tonight, coming into a regular WHL building, was a bit of an eye opener for them. So, it’s a challenge. When you have young players, you have to be patient, but you also have to push them because you have to get better in a hurry, otherwise you get behind the 8-ball early in the season.”
Vancouver opened the scoring, with Jordan Martinook lighting the lamp at 11:51 of the first period with a power-play goal. However, the Rockets replied midway through the second, with Mackenzie Johnston scoring at 13:08, then Tyler Matheson netting the game winner at 8:49 of the third.
The shots on goal were even at 31 apiece. For Kelowna, Jordan Cooke made 15 of 16 saves before giving way to Chase Martin, who was 15-for-15. For the Giants, Brendan Jensen made 29 saves.
“The game started slow, on both sides, but I think that’s partly because of nerves, (this being) our first game in the building,” said Huska. “But I thought as we went on, the intensity got a little bit better. There were some good things that were done, and now we’re looking forward to a good week of practice.
“We’re going to try to give the guys a better understanding of what’s expected.”
As for being 2-0, Huska said “well, it is exhibition. So, right now, it’s more about getting a chance to see what some players can do and where you see them potentially fitting in.”