They were lucky to get to overtime. But, as fate would have it, they weren’t lucky at all in the shootout.
The Kelowna Rockets went to the shootout well for a third consecutive game on Friday night, but the victory bucket came up empty, as they fell 3-2 to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.
Tonight, Kelowna (21-23-2-4) and Seattle (18-27-1-1) close out an extended home-and-home series. Game time is 5 p.m. in Kent, Wash. It’s the first of three road games for Kelowna after a five-game homestand (2-2-0-1).
Following Friday’s loss, Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said his team “didn’t work hard enough, and that’s kinda what happens. If you have a hard-working night, then you usually get things to go your way. They came in, played a good road game and they outworked us.”
Prior to playing Seattle, Kelowna beat Vancouver 4-3 in a shootout, then Kamloops 3-2, also in a shootout.
“You get tired of the ups and downs and the roller-coasters,” Huska said. “As soon as we have some success, it’s almost like we change our approach. That’s the tough part that we need to get over. It’s taken us a long time to do it, but we will get there.”
Asked afterwards if Kelowna had played down to the level of Seattle — the sixth-place Rockets are leading the seventh-place T-Birds by 10 points in Western Conference standings — Huska said no.
“We don’t have the team to play down to,” he stated. “Let’s be honest here.”
Winning in the shootout may be exciting, but it’s equally disappointing to lose.
Especially in the way Kelowna lost Friday, with Zach Franko and Myles Bell both failing to score on Calvin Pickard, as Kelowna went 0-2, while the T-Birds went 2-0. Against Kamloops, Franko and Bell both scored on Kelowna’s first two shots.
“It was kind of going perfect for a while there with a 1-2 punch with Franko and Bell,” said Rockets captain Colton Sissons. “Pick-ard is a really good goalie, and I’m pretty sure that he studies these things and he knew where Franko was going. He beat us fair and square in the shootout.”
Sissons added that “we didn’t play as a team like we did against Kamloops, battling for each other out there. That has to come around again and we have to keep that going.”