By Larry Fisher
The Okanagan Saturday
Getting a point in Kamloops, that’s good. Blowing a three-goal lead, that’s bad.
The Kelowna Rockets had to take the good with the bad on Friday, as Kamloops captain Chase Schaber completed the comeback with an overtime-winning goal to give the host Blazers a 5-4 victory.
Kelowna led 4-1 and 4-2 at the period breaks, and also had a goal disallowed in the middle frame that would have made it 5-1, but the Rockets were on their heels for the latter half of the game, getting outshot 19-4 in the third period and 46-20 overall. The two B.C. rivals clash again Saturday night in the back half of a home-and-home set, 7 p.m. at Prospera Place in Kelowna.
“We got a point on the road in a very difficult place to be in, so that’s one thing that has to be positive for us,” said Rockets coach Ryan Huska, whose club exploded offensively after getting shut out at home on Wednesday, 2-0 by Seattle.
Brett Bulmer sparked the Rockets with two goals, including a power-play marker to open the scoring, and Tanner Moar and Carter Rigby also lit the lamp. Rigby’s goal, on a power play with 19 seconds left in the opening frame, made it 4-1 and chased Blazers starting goalie Cole Cheveldave after 20 minutes.
Cody Chikie appeared to put Kelowna ahead 5-1, but the referee waved it off and video review confirmed the puck was directed into the net by a high stick. Adam Brown made 41 saves in a losing cause for Kelowna (24-24-3-4).
The top-ranked Blazers (39-12-1-3) battled back, scoring four unanswered goals, led by Colin Smith with two. JC Lipon and Brendan Ranford, with the equalizer on a third-period power play, also replied for Kamloops. Cam Lanigan stopped all 12 shots he faced in relief to earn the victory.
“As the game went on, they elevated their play and I thought we were on our heels for a lot of the third period,” Huska said. “We have to do a better job (tonight) of not giving them much room to generate some speed and to find their open men.”
ICE CHIPS: Kelowna scratched LW Brett Lyon (3rd of 6-game suspension), D Mitchell Chapman (upper-body), RW Jessey Astles (upper-body), RW Filip Vasko (knee) and C Spencer Main (upper-body, 1-plus month).