Geordie Wudrick capped a slow night for Kelowna with a pair of frenetic goals that propelled the Rockets to an unlikely victory on Saturday night.
At Calgary, the Rockets rallied from three one-goal deficits — with Wudrick scoring late in the third period, then 59 seconds into overtime — for a 4-3 win over the Hitmen.
That Kelowna would leave the Saddledome with two points seemed highly unlikely, as the Rockets mustered just three shots in the first period and six in the second. But win they did, and Kelowna closed out its four-game Central Division road trip with a record of 3-1-0-0.
All three wins came after starting the trip with a 4-2 loss to the Kootenay Ice. In that game, Kelowna was outshot 24-9 in the third.
“It took us a while to get our legs underneath us, that’s for sure. But I thought in the third period, we got stronger,” said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska, whose team will spend today in Radium Hot Springs before returning home to the Okanagan. “We capitalized on some of our chances.”
Shane McColgan, with his 21st goal of the season, and Colton Sissons, with his 16th, also scored for Kelowna (36-25-0-1), which trailed 1-0 after the first and 3-2 after the second.
McColgan made it 1-1 at 11:31 of the second with a shorthanded goal, while Sissons made it 2-2 at 14:48. Wudrick levelled the score at 16:33 of the third, his 35th goal of the season, then netted the winner in overtime.
Forwards Trevor Cheek and Misha Fisenko plus blue-liner Alex Roach scored for Calgary (19-38-3-2). Mike Snider turned aside 17 shots for the Hitmen, while Adam Brown stopped 24 shots for the Rockets.
Not only were the Rockets happy with the win, but with the trip itself, having gathered six points out of a possible eight.
“This road trip was important for us, to be honest with you, if we wanted any chance of finishing first (in the B.C. Division),” Huska said. “We felt we had to get at least five of eight (points), and that’s being realistic because we were playing some good teams on this trip.
“But the guys competed in their last three games and they’re very deserving of the points we were able to come back with.”
Asked about the possibility of having earned at least seven points were it not for that third-period meltdown last Tuesday against Kootenay, Huska said the loss proved valuable.
"We could have, but you know what? Maybe that was a lesson that needed to be learned," said Huska, whose team trailed Kootenay 2-0 after 40 minutes, but evened the score by the fourth minute of the third. "We played the wrong way in the third period, and, against good teams, you can't do that. So the rest of the trip, we were much better."
Heading into Saturday's third period against Calgary, with your team down 3-2, did you remind your players of how Tuesday's loss came about?
"Not so much," said Huska. "I thought our guys, they were starting to really play, so that's where we pushed them. We told them that if you keep putting pucks on net, good things will happen."
ICE CHIPS: Kelowna’s scratches were D Mitchell Chapman (concussion), LW Jason Siebert (wrist), LW Brett Bulmer (knee) and C Max Adolph (concussion). . . . Kelowna was 0-for-4 on the power play; The Hitmen were 0-for-5. . . . The three stars were Sissons, Roach and Hitmen forward John Lawrence. . . . Up next for Kelowna is a road game in Kamloops against the Blazers (29-31-3-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. . . . The nine-game season series between the Blazers and Rockets is tied at 3-3. . . . In B.C. Division standings, front-running Kelowna maintained its four-point lead over the second-place Vancouver Giants (32-24-1-4). . . . On Saturday, the Giants posted a 5-1 win in Chilliwack over the Bruins. Twenty-four hours earlier, the Bruins (25-30-2-3) beat the Giants 6-4 in Vancouver. . . . Kelowna has 10 regular-season games left; Vancouver also 11, including a 5 p.m. home-ice tilt tonight against the Tri-City Americans (37-19-2-2). . . . The Blazers are third in B.C. Division standings with 62 points, one point up on fourth-place Prince George and seven behind Vancouver. However, the Blazers have played three more games than the Giants and one more than Prince George. . . . The Blazers have won five of their last six games and have points in all six (5-0-1-0). The only mark was a 4-3 overtime loss to Red Deer last Saturday. . . . Also making a Central Division road trip at the same time Kelowna was, Kamloops went 4-0-1-0, closing it out Saturday night with an impressive 8-5 victory over Kootenay despite getting outshot 46-25.