For 40 minutes, all was going well for the Kelowna Rockets. Enter a wild third period and what should have been a victory instead turned into a disheartening loss.
At Victoria, Robin Soudek and Zane Jones both scored twice for the Royals, as the host team rallied with five unanswered goals to beat the Rockets 7-5. Kelowna held a 5-3 lead after two periods, but, in what’s turning out to be a repeating problem so far this season, choked in the last frame, coughing up four goals. The loss was the Rockets’ fourth in a row as Kelowna fell below .500 with a record of 3-4-0-0.
“For the first two periods, we played well,” said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska, whose team will play Victoria again tonight, 7 p.m., at Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena. “Then we forgot to come out in the third period. We stopped skating and Victoria took the game over in the third period.”
In starting the season with three straight wins, the Rockets looked strong, but were outplayed in each third period. It was more of the same on Friday night. In fact, of Kelowna’s seven games so far, it has been outshot in the third period six times. The exception was a 4-2 loss to Medicine Hat on Wednesday, in which the Rockets, trailing 3-1 going into the third, outshot the Tigers 18-9. Friday’s tally was 15-3 for Victoria.
So far this season, the Rockets have been outshot 86-52 in the third period.
“You have to play 60 minutes of hockey,” said Huska. “If something bad happens in the game, you can’t let it change the way you’re approaching the game. If you give up a goal, you have to go back to working the same way you were, not try things on your own. We’ve given away some points here that we didn’t have to give away, and that’s what’s frustrating.”
Jamie Crooks, Lukas Kralik and Logan Nelson also scored for Victoria (5-5-0-0). Keith Hamilton of Kelowna made 22 stops for the Royals.
Spencer Main, with his fourth goal of the season and second marker in as many games, Colton Heffley, rookie Jesse Lees, with his first WHL goal, Colton Sissons and Myles Bell scored for Kelowna, which led 3-2 and 5-3 at the period breaks. Adam Brown stopped 27 shots for the Rockets.
Friday’s result might have been predicted when over-age blue-liner Kevin Smith fell to the ice in warm-up and suffered a shoulder injury. He’s expected to miss the weekend.
ICE CHIPS: Scratches for Kelowna were LW Brett Bulmer (Minnesota Wild), D Kevin Smith (shoulder), RW Jessey Astles (head) and D Madison Bowey (knee). . . . Kelowna was 3-for-6 on the power play; Victoria was 1-for-7. . . . The three stars were Soudek, Jones and Rockets forward Shane McColgan.