Devante Stephens and the Kelowna Rockets will host Jared Bethune and the Prince George Cougars Wednesday in WHL action. -Image credit: Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze

Rockets look to close gap on Cougars

Kelowna just six points back of first-place Prince George as BC rivals meet Wednesday in Kelowna

A month ago, top spot in the WHL’s B.C. Division might as well have been a mirage for the Kelowna Rockets.

After a red-hot month of February, the possibility of chasing down the first-place Prince George Cougars has come into clear view.

With more than just two points at stake, the Rockets and Cougars will meet tonight at Prospera Place for the eighth and final time this season.

With nine games remaining, Kelowna (37-21-5-0) sits six points back of Prince George (40-19-3-2) and just one point back of second-place Kamloops. The Rockets have a game in hand on both teams.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to get closer (to Prince George),” Smith said, when asked of the importance of tonight’s game. “We need to play this game the right way, from start to finish.”

Smith is imploring a full 60 minutes from his team, who jumped out a 7-0 lead Sunday in Spokane, only to see the Chiefs rally back with five of the last seven goals.

“In Spokane (9-5 win) we got off to a good start, then got away from our structure and our game,” Smith said. “It’s important for us carry that early effort and structure through the entire game.”

The Rockets pulled themselves right back into the B.C. Division picture with 10 wins in 13 games (10-2-1-o) in February.

The club’s offense took a big step forward with 72 goals during the stretch, including 30 in the last four games.

“It starts with getting the puck to the net, and lately we’ve done a better job of being around the net and being aggressive,” Smith said of his team’s recent scoring prowess.

The Rockets will visit the Everett Silvertips Friday, before returning home to host the Tri-City Americans on Saturday.