A fast start for the Kelowna Rockets and an ugly, water-bottle throwing ending for the Lethbridge Hurricanes bookended a strange game on Saturday night.
At Prospera Place, Tyson Barrie recorded a three-point night for Kelowna with two goals and one assist, while Shane McColgan recorded two assists, as the Rockets raced out to a 2-0 lead en route to beating Lethbridge 5-3 in WHL action. Yet, what will be most remembered is the explosion of emotion from Hurricanes general manager and head coach Rich Preston during the poorly officiated contest.
Trailing 4-2 late in the third period, the Hurricanes thought they had scored a power-play goal with 2:59 left when Brody Sutter knocked in a loose puck in the crease. However, the goal was waived off, with the reason being a double spearing minor to Graham Hood that apparently took place earlier in the play. Following a lengthy review, the goal was disallowed.
Then Kelowna scored, Geordie Wudrick with his 38th of the season on the ensuing power play, and, shortly after, Preston began littering the ice with water bottles and his clipboard.
“I’ve never seen (anything like it) in all my years,” said Preston. “The linesman made a call, but the two referees didn’t see it. And then we changed and (Hood) was sitting on the bench for a good minute because we had another line out there — our other line was out there for a minute and then scores.
“So we think we score, and then all of a sudden it was a phantom penalty call by the linesman. We might as well have three referees now because the linesman is calling penalties. Two referees isn’t enough.”
Zach Franko and Spencer Main also scored for Kelowna (38-26-0-1), which led 2-1 and 3-2 at the period breaks. Prior to the game, Kelowna had clinched a playoff spot, courtesy of the Kamloops Blazers’ 4-1 loss to Lethbridge on Friday. The Blazers can’t catch Kelowna in points, thus ensuring the Rockets a post-season spot.
Daniel Johnston, Mitch Maxwell and Jacob Berglund replied for Lethbridge (22-31-5-8), which closed out a three-game B.C. trip with a 1-2 record. Adam Brown made 28 saves for Kelowna. Brandon Anderson turned aside 20 shots for the Hurricanes.
Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said he understood Preston’s frustrations.
“Frustrating . . . with the penalties, yes,” said Huska. “But also frustrating with our group. I didn’t see a lot of get-up and go.
“I’ve never been a part of (throwing water bottles), to be honest. But I would probably be a little upset as well. So I can’t say I would have done anything different than Rich.”
ICE CHIPS: Kelowna’s scratches: D Mitchell Chapman (head, 1 week), LW Jason Siebert (wrist, 1-2 weeks), LW Brett Bulmer (leg, week to week), Max Adolph (concussion) and Jessey Astles (1-game suspension). Lethbridge’s scratches: D Brandyn Hulit, C Brady Ramsay, LW Philip Tot and D Reid Jackson.