It’s a safe bet Mitchell Callahan will be keeping his gloves on this weekend as the Kelowna Rockets play a home and home series with the Kamloops Blazers.
Callahan, the rugged 19-year-old winger, suffered a cut to his finger that required seven stitches in Kelowna’s 3-1 win Wednesday night against Tri-City.
But that didn’t stop him from returning to the game and scoring the game winning goal in the third period with a hand that was cramping up.
“I don’t like to miss any games so it was something I had to battle through,” said Callahan, who converted a pass from Shane McColgan to score the winner. “Shane makes great passes. I was lucky enough to get open and he got it to me. I shot it and it just trickled in but it’s something I will take.”
Rockets coaches were happy to see Callahan back to his scrappy best, despite suffering the injury to his hand when a linesman inadvertently stepped on his hand after a first period fight.
“He scored a very key goal for us,” said head coach Ryan Huska. “Thats what we need out of him. That was the greasier side of Mitchell Callahan but when he brings that he plays his best games.”
The win on Wednesday gave the Rockets a solid grip on first place in the WHL B.C. division. Combined with a Vancouver loss, the Rockets moved eight points ahead of Vancouver with both teams having six games remaining in the season, including two against each other.
This weekend the Rockets head into a home and home series with the Kamloops Blazers. Kamloops is in a battle of its own, sitting tied with Prince George for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We have to try and keep building on what we were able to do (Wednesday),” said Huska. “Kamloops is going to be team that is very desperate and we have to make sure we are ready for that.”
The Rockets and Blazers will play Friday night in Kamloops before coming back to Kelowna for the rematch on Saturday night at Prospera Place.