For the last three months, Prospera Place has pretty much been a wasteland for opponents of the Kelowna Rockets.
On Friday night, the Tri-City Americans will be the latest team to take a stab at halting Kelowna’s dominance on home ice.
The Rockets, who have won 16 consecutive games at home–and seven in a row overall—have taken up residence at the top of the B.C. Division for the first time this season, two points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers.
The Americans, coming off a 3-1 win over the Blazers on Wednesday, are the only team to have handed the Rockets two losses this season—both 3-2 setbacks in November in Kennewick, Wash.
Kelowna partially returned the favour with a 3-2 victory of their own over the visiting Ams on Nov. 28 at Prospera.
In the Americans (23-15-1-2), head coach Ryan Huska said the Rockets will a face a skilled group that can be challenge to contain.
“They’re a team that plays the game at a very high pace and they do a lot of different things that make them a hard team to defend against,” Huska said of Tri-City.”They gave us a tough time last time they were here, so we have to be focused and ready to play a very good team game against them.”
Kelowna rung up its 30th win of the season on Wednesday with a 6-1 drubbing of the Victoria Royals. The Rockets (30-10-1-1) won 31 games all of last season.
Thanks to a recurring theme of forward-line depth and a scoring-by-committee approach, six different Rockets tallied in the victory over the Royals. Kelowna has outscored its opponents 39-16 in the seven wins since Christmas.
“That’s been such a big part of our success, that everybody really feels like they’re a part of this,” Huska said. “When everybody is contributing like our guys have been doing, you’re going to have success.
The club’s recent success has also pushed the Rockets into the Canadian Hockey League’ top 10 rankings.
After being listed eighth the previous week, Kelowna is currently ranked No. 5 in all of major junior hockey by a panel of NHL scouts.
“It’s a real honour to be listed, but it’s not something we talk a lot about,” Huska said. “We realize there are a lot of great teams across the CHL and WHL that are on that list, and if you have tough week, you can be knocked out of there just as fast as you got on there.”
On Saturday, the Rockets will travel to Vancouver to take on the Giants.
Kelowna’s next home action is Wednesday against the Spokane Chiefs.