Nick Merkley and the Kelowna Rockets will host the Red Deer Rebels Wednesday

Rockets set for rematch with Rebels

Kelowna, which lost 7-4 earlier this season in Red Deer, will meet Memorial Cup hosts Wednesday at Prospera

The only loss the Kelowna Rockets suffered on their trip to Alberta earlier this month came at the hands of the Red Deer Rebels.

The defending Western Hockey League champs are about to get another crack at the 2016 Memorial Cup hosts as the teams face off Wednesday night at Prospera Place.

“I’m expecting us to be better, to be tighter defensively than we were the first time around,” said assistant coach Travis Crickard, referring to the Rockets’ 7-4 loss to the Rebels on Oct. 3.

“We had some good chances offensively but just need to be more responsible in the D-zone.

“You have two good teams, so it should be a very good game.”

Crickard said with the return of defenseman Hadyn Fluery from the camp of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, combined with the play of Czech import Michael Spacek, the Rebels should also be an improved team over the last meeting.

One factor the Rockets shouldn’t have to worry about is fatigue.

It’s Kelowna’s first game since last Friday’s 3-0 home ice setback to the Victoria Royals.

The Rockets are coming off a stretch of five games in an eight-day span, and seven games in 15 days to start the season.

“I do believe the time off gave the guys some time to regroup and recharge,” said Crickard. “It was nice for them to get away from the rink.

“From the drop of the puck this season, it seems like it’s been go, go, go, game after game. The guys should be energized and ready to get back out there.”

Rockets’ centre Rourke Chartier remains sidelined on a day-to-day basis with an upper body injury and isn’t expected to play tonight.

Meanwhile, the Rockets also have a roster decision to make this week as all WHL teams must cut down to their three-player limit for 20-year-olds.

Kelowna currently has four overage players—Jackson Whistle, Tyson Baillie, Cole Linaker and Gage Quinney.

The Rockets will head to the Prince George this weekend for games Friday and Saturday against the Cougars.

The teams will meet again next Friday, Oct. 23 at Prospera Place.