Ryan Huska liked how his team finished Tuesday night’s game against Seattle.
The start? Well, that’s another matter.
At Kent, Wash., Colin Jacobs scored what proved to be the game-winning goal, in the shootout, as Seattle beat the Kelowna Rockets 4-3. The host Thunderbirds stormed out to an early 3-1 lead, then watched their advantage evaporate as the Rockets rallied.
And the Rockets did so with a heavily bandaged roster, with no less than seven regulars missing. One wonders what the outcome would have been had the Rockets had a healthy team.
According to Kelowna, it leads the league in lost man-games, having hit 300 on Tuesday night. So, that they rallied against the T-Birds and managed a point was of some comfort to the Rockets.
“We gave them three goals in the first period and that was the frustrating part of the night,” said Huska, Kelowna’s coach. “But after the first period, I thought we responded very well. Our guys got themselves back in the game and our key guys stepped up. Short of not scoring in the shootout, we did everything we could to win the game in the second and third.
“But we didn’t win this game tonight, so . . . we left a point here because of the mistakes made in the first period, the needless turnovers they capitalized on, but the positive is that we did battle back.”
Carter Rigby, who opened the scoring at 1:34 of the first period, Zach Franko, in the second, and Myles Bell, at 19:07 of the third with a penalty shot, scored for Kelowna (24-25-3-5). Branden Troock, Burke Gallimore and Justin Hickman scored for Seattle (20-34-1-1).
Bell forced overtime with less than a minute remaining when, according to the Rockets, the T-Birds knocked their own net off its pegs, resulting in a penalty shot.
“We were on the power play and we had some pressure around their net and one of their defencemen knocked the net off,” said Huska. “So knocking a net off (late in the game) is an automatic penalty shot.”
Bell has “been really good for us,” continued Huska. “It’s probably the best I’ve seen him play in our uniform. He’s been getting so much better in his own zone, he’s competing harder away from pucks and now he’s adding his offensive side that we know he has, so he’s been really good.”
Jordon Cooke made 23 saves for Kelowna, which tonight hosts the Edmonton Oil Kings at Prospera Place. For the T-Birds, Calvin Pickard made 33 saves. The Rockets were 0-for-2 in the shootout, while the T-Birds were 2-for-3. Seattle won the four-game season series 3-1-0-0.
Kelowna was without Mitchell Chapman (upper-body injury), Filip Vasko (knee), Cody Chikie (upper-body), captain Colton Sissons (concussion, one-month plus), Spencer Main (concussion), Jessey Astles (upper-body) and Brett Lyon (suspension).
“Potentially,” said Huska, “we might have Cody Chikie back, but Colton is out with a concussion. The frustrating part of it is the league is fully aware of Colton having a concussion and, yet, the player in Kamloops is still playing, so there’s no suspension. They talk about head shots and wanting to clean it up, but there we go with another situation.”