Victoria, BC – The Kelowna Rockets recorded their 19th win of the season in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Victoria Royals on Tuesday.
Forward Jake Poole was the top performer for Kelowna (19-10-1-3) on Tuesday, recording a goal and an assist in the win.
Meanwhile, Victoria (12-20-4-1) earned their first points of the new year, but also saw their losing streak extended to eight games.
Despite the unfortunate result, head coach Dan Price saw some encouraging signs from the way his team played on Tuesday:
“The second period was really good.” said Price postgame. “In the first period we were carrying the play but we just got a little careless with some of our exits and some of our puck management, and that put us on our heels…but once we adjusted and fixed that we were able to swing it our way.”
However, Victoria’s puck management problems would come back to haunt them in the third, allowing the Rockets to gain momentum and force overtime, leading to the eventual shootout win.
There were some more encouraging signs from the team on Tuesday, as forward Bailey Peach brought his point total up to 50 on the season with a pair of goals.
It was a milestone game for Royals goaltender Campbell Arnold who was making his 50th career WHL appearance. The Nanaimo, BC native has made 13 starts for the club since being acquired from the Spokane Chiefs earlier this season.
The Royals also received some roster relief on Tuesday, welcoming back defenceman Devin Aubin from COVID protocol and defenceman Anson McMaster, who had been out since Dec. 11 with an upper body injury. It was a strong return for the Siksika, AB native, earning an assist on a Peach goal in the second period.
Rockets forward Jake Poole opened the scoring with his 11th of the year at 11:45 to make it 1-0 for Kelowna. He now has six points in his last two games against the Royals.
Poole’s marker would be the only goal scored by either team in the first, and the period would expire with the Rockets up by one.
The Royals offence would explode in the second, scoring three unanswered goals to open up a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame. First it was a pair by forward Peach, who broke out of his three game drought with his 21st and 22nd of the year at 10:19 and 15:12, respectively.
This was followed by forward Reggie Newman’s second goal of the campaign, coming on the powerplay at 17:56 of the period.
This was the first time the Royals carried a lead into the third since Dec. 30 when they defeated the Vancouver Giants 7-3.
However, Kelowna would come roaring back in the final frame, scoring twice to even the game and force overtime. They brought it within one on an unassisted goal by forward Scott Cousins–his second of the year–coming at 2:42. Then it would be forward Mark Liwiski scoring his ninth of the season at 11:34 to even the game at 3-3.
The overtime period saw little action from either team, so a shootout would be required to determine a winner. Kelowna forward Pavel Novak would be the lone scorer for either side, sealing the 4-3 shootout win for his team.
Rockets goaltender Tayln Boyko made 18 of 21 saves in the game while also denying every attempt by Victoria during the shootout.
Meanwhile, Arnold had a strong game for the Royals, saving 33 of 36 in his 50th career WHL game, but unfortunately earned the loss.
The two teams will do battle for the second night in a row on Wednesday in the final game of the mid-week series during Way Back Wednesday with 90’s night presented by Molson Canadian. Fans are encouraged to don their best 90’s attire and head to the rink for a night of 90’s nostalgia. The Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre will also be offering another Molson drink special on Wednesday with Molson Coors Original cans available for $6 in all outlets throughout the building. Puck drop is set for 7:05pm at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.