Chartier closes in on 50

Kelowna Rockets' centre needs three goals in last three games to reach milestone

Centre Rourke Chartier has 47 goals for the Kelowna Rockets this season

Rourke Chartier is happy to be back. For the Kelowna Rockets, the feeling is mutual.

After missing eight games with an upper body injury, the 18-year-old centre made a conspicuous return to the WHL team’s lineup Saturday night, promptly notching his team-leading 47th goal in a 2-1 win over Kamloops.

With three games left, Chartier needs to average a goal per night to reach the seldom-achieved 50-goal plateau.

While Chartier admits it would be a nice feat, the Saskatoon native isn’t putting too much emphasis on personal goals.

“I hadn’t really thought a lot about it this year, but you get this close and yeah, it would be nice to say I got to 50,” said Chartier. “On the other hand, it’s not a big deal if I don’t get it, I think I’ve had a pretty good year as it is.

“The most important thing is the team and as long as we’re winning these last few games, that’s all that matters.”

“It will happen if it was meant to happen,” Rockets coach Dan Lambert said of Chartier’s path towards 50 goals. “He’s had an unbelievable year regardless of how it ends. I don’t think anyone really expected to see what he’s done.”

The last Rockets player to break the 50-goal barrier was Justin Keller who netted 51 during the 2005-06 season.

Meanwhile, the 2014-15 the Rockets still have team goals in mind, not the least of which is trying to finish first overall for the second consecutive season.

Kelowna (51-13-4-1) is currently two points back of the Brandon Wheat Kings (51-11-4-3) for first overall in the WHL.

On Wednesday, Kelowna will host the Seattle Thunderbirds in a 7 p.m. face off at Prospera Place.

Forward Tyrell Goulbourne is expected back in the Kelowna lineup after missing the last two games with a lower body injury.

The Rockets will close out the regular season this weekend with a home-and-home set against the Vancouver Giants. The teams will face off on Friday in Vancouver, before wrapping up the season Saturday at Prospera Place.