Brad Ralph wasn’t overly enamoured with the way his Kelowna Rockets played Wednesday night.
The head coach was, however, happy to pick up the two points.
Despite a less than air-tight performance, the Rockets held off the Red Deer Rebels for a 5-4 victory at Prospera Place.
The win avenged a 7-4 loss earlier this month to the Rebels in Red Deer, and produced a better result than last Friday’s shutout loss on home ice against Victoria.
“We’ve got a lot better (than we showed) tonight,” Ralph said. “I’m excited for the day when we play a complete game. Until then, we’re going to be in close games.”
“It was a sloppy game I thought both ways, a lot of goals,” added Ralph. “Certainly not what I’m looking for but again, we’re happy with the win.”
Dillon Dube paced the attack with two goals and an assist, as the Rockets led 2-0 and 3-2 by periods,
Tyson Baillie, with the game winner and team-leading seventh of the season, put the Rockets up 5-3 at 11:19 of the third, before the Rebels made it interesting with a late power play goal by Colton Bobyk.
Rookie defencemen Cal Foote and Gordie Ballhorn also scored for the Rockets, now 6-3-0-0.
Ballhorn’s first WHL goal came five minutes into the the third period when his point shot through a screen found the mark.
“Really good,” said Ballhorn when he was asked how his first goal felt. “Got chills going by the bench, everybody screaming and hollering. Unbelievable feeling.”
As a reward, Ballhorn was the victim of the Rockets’ longstanding ritual for first-time goal scorers, as Tyson Baillie snuck by and slathered the Wetaskiwin, AB native’s face with shaving cream during a post-game interview with the media.
Ivan Nikolishin, on a second-period breakaway, Haydn Fleury and Grayson Pawlenchuk also scored for the Rebels, who outshot Kelowna 34-27.
The Rockets were without centre Rourke Chartier who missed his second straight game with an upper body injury.
Earlier in the day, the club bid farewell to forward Gage Quinney. To accommodate the league’s three-player limit for over-age players, the Rockets dealt Quinney to the Kamloops Blazers for a third-round bantam draft pick in 2016.
The Rockets remaining 20-year-old players are Jackson Whistle, Tyson Baillie and Cole Linaker..
The Rockets return to action this weekend with two games against the Cougars in Prince George on Friday and Saturday.