Simplicity key for Rockets on Alberta trip
The Kelowna Rockets suffered the consequences of not being prepared to play two of the top teams from Alberta last week on home ice.
Expect the WHL club to have its eyes wide open heading into a demanding four-game, five-day road trip beginning Wednesday night in Edmonton against the Eastern Conference-leading Oil Kings.
"Every one of these Central Division teams we're going play on this trip is a good team, they're big teams and they can all skate," said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. "We have to play simple and play unselfish. When we don't play that way we get into trouble."
But the Rockets (25-27-3-5) bounced back on Saturday night with a morale-boosting 4-3 shootout win over Red Deer and, at the very least, head into their tour of Alberta in an improved state of mind.
"It was huge, not just getting the win but just the difference in the way we played compared to some of the games before that," said Rockets goaltender Adam Brown. "We played for the 60 full minutes and even though we got down, the guys battled back. It was a morale booster and shows what we can do if we work hard and play as a team."
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Rockets are firmly entrenched in sixth overall in the Western Conference with little likelihood of any change, either up or down.
So with little prospect of moving up what will the Rockets look to accomplish over the final month of the 2011-12 campaign ?
"The big picture goal is to get playing at a level that we need to playing at for the playoffs," said Brown.
"It's not a light switch you can just turn on and off. We have to really crank it up, keep addressing those parts of our game that need work, and keep improving as the playoffs get closer."
In Alberta, the Rockets would also like to see more of the Brett Bulmer who came to play on Saturday night against Red Deer, scoring his 23rd and 24th goals of the season.
Prior to Saturday, the 19-year-old forward had scored just four times in his last 16 games.
The Rockets will visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday, the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday, and Calgary on Sunday.
Four players won't be making the trip due to injury: Colton Sissons (concussion), Mitchell Chapman (upper body), Filip Vasko (lower body), Spencer Main (concussion).
Kelowna's next home action is Saturday, March 3 vs Kamloops.