Cal Foote and the Kelowna Rockets will host Calgary Friday, then travel to Portland for games Saturday and Sunday against the Winterhawks. -Image: Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze

Rockets’ captain welcomes challenge ahead

Kelowna to play four games in five nights, three on road against tough U.S opponents

Just three weeks into the Western Hockey League season, it’s far from a make-or-break situation for the Kelowna Rockets.

Still, with four games in a five-night span—the last three south of the border—Jason Smith’s club is likely to learn plenty about its grit, resolve and resiliency.

After a home date Friday with the Calgary Hitmen, the Rockets will hop the team bus for a nine-hour trip to Portland where they’ll go back-to-back with the Winterhawks on Saturday and Sunday.

Then on Tuesday, Kelowna (4-1-0-1) closes out its U.S. tour in Kennewick, Wash against Tri-City.

While the stretch ahead might look somewhat daunting, team captain Cal Foote expects the task at hand to bring out the best in his teammates.

“It’s a huge challenge for our team,” said Foote. “I think it’s important for us to just take each game as it comes, just focus on Friday night right now, then we can prepare to go forward after that.

“Four games in five nights is a big challenge but I think we’re up for it.”

In the Winterhawks, the Rockets will see an opponent that many WHL observers expect to challenge for the Western Conference title.

Portland is off to 6-1-0 start and has outscored its opposition 39-17.

“They’re a highly-touted team, everybody believes they’re going to be a heavy squad, so we’re going to have to go in there with our ‘A’ game, play the best road games that we can,” Foote said of the games in Portland.

Foote and the Rockets hope to have some gas left in their tank Tuesday night when they visit the Tri-City Americans, another preseason pick as a contender for the WHL title.

“Hockey players, you live for adversity, you live for tests like this,” Foote said. “I’m excited and the guys in the locker room are excited, too.”

Face off Friday at Prospera Place between the Rockets and Hitmen is 7:05 p.m.

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