By Larry Fisher
The Okanagan Sunday
All season, it’s been deja vu for the Kelowna Rockets on the road.
That trend continued this weekend, but in a different, winning sense, with the Rockets sweeping a two-game road trip to Prince George thanks to Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Cougars in WHL action. As was the case in Friday’s 3-2 win, Kelowna (8-11-2-1) prevailed on the strength of a power-play goal from a rookie, with Tyson Baillie notching his fifth of the season to give Kelowna its first lead, 3-2, two minutes into the third period.
Baillie also got into his first WHL fight, scrapping with Linden Springer when Kelowna was trailing 2-0 late in the first period.
“Bails got a fortunate bounce on that one, but good things come to those who work hard,” Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said of Baillie’s winner. “We were pretty flat in the first period and Tyson stepped out of his comfort zone and got into a fight. From that point our team played better and he deserved the goal he got on the power play.”
Saturday’s start was different from Friday, when the Rockets built an early 3-1 lead and held on with Madison Bowey’s man-advantage marker holding up as the winner.
Prior to this weekend, Kelowna was marred in an eight-game road winless skid that featured several close, hard-to-swallow defeats. In fact, the Rockets hadn’t won away from home since their season-opening 5-4 shootout decision at Everett on Sept. 24.
That’s old news now, as the Rockets have suddenly won three of their last four contests overall heading into their longest homestand of the season.
That seven-game stay at Prospera Place starts on Wednesday with Kelowna’s third straight tilt against the Cougars (6-15-0-2). Saturday’s win opened up a five-point gap between the two teams in Western Conference and B.C.
Division standings, having entered the weekend with Kelowna struggling — losers of eight of their previous 10 and only one point up on last-place Prince George.
“When you’re winning on the road and you find a way to get some points, that’s important,” Huska said, adding “it allows you to feel a little better.”
Tyrell Goulbourne, with an insurance marker, Mitchell Chapman and Zach Franko also scored for the Rockets, who got 29 saves from Adam Brown in backstopping his second win in as many nights. Spencer Asuchak and Caleb
Belter replied for the Cougars, while Drew Owsley made 22 saves.
ICE CHIPS: Kelowna went with the same lineup as Friday, scratching RW Austin Ferguson, D Myles Bell, D Jesse Lees (upper-body, 2-3 weeks) and C Spencer Main (upper-body, 2 weeks).