Rockets dig for goals in Alberta

Mitchell Callahan and the Kelowna Rockets open a three-game Alberta road trip Wednesday in Lethbridge.

More goals.

Plain and simple, that’s what Ryan Huska needs to see from his Kelowna Rockets during this week’s three-game tour of Alberta.

Despite firing a total of 80 shots at opposing netminders over a two-game visit to the U.S. last weekend, the Rockets came up pointless in both Portland (3-2 loss) and Seattle (3-1 loss).

In the last four outings, Kelowna has scored just seven times.

While generating offensive opportunities hasn’t been a major concern, Huska said his team needs to show better finish—beginning tonight in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes.

“We have to do a much better job around the opponent’s net, we need to be more hungry when it comes to capitalizing on our chances,” said Huska. “To have upwards of 80 shots and only three goals just isn’t going to get it done. It’s true we had a lot of perimeter shots, but when we do get chances we just haven’t been bearing down they way we need to. There has to be a willingness on the guys’ part to get their noses dirty, get back to basics, crash the net and make things happen.”

The Rockets, who will visit Edmonton Friday and Calgary on Saturday, are hoping to get some veteran help up front this week. Forward Evan Bloodoff, who hasn’t played a game this season due to a knee injury, could be set to return in either Lethbridge or Edmonton. Defenceman Dallas Jackson, who hasn’t played since Feb. 3, is close to returning from a knee injury.

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Rockets (29-29-2-3) are sixth in the Western Conference with both the Kamloops Blazers and Chilliwack Bruins hot on their heels.

And with a potential fifth-place finish now well out of their reach—Kelowna was 16 points back of Portland heading into Tuesday’s action—Huska said the focus over the last nine games will be fine tuning for the post season.

“We’re trying to get better every day, I know it’s the old cliché, but at this time of year, you just want to make sure you’re playing your best,” Huska added. “Regardless of what other teams are doing, we have to be focused on getting our game in order for the playoffs.”

The Rockets next home action is Wednesday, March 3 against the Spokane Chiefs.

whenderson@kelownacapnews.com