Rockets welcome home cooking
In all his years in the game, Ryan Huska can't recall a stretch of hockey quite as demanding as the one his Kelowna Rockets have just come through.
Sixteen of the WHL club's last 18 games were played away from the friendly confines of Prospera Place, all in a span of 39 days.
The good news is, the Canadian Hockey League's No. 1 team survived the test with flying colours, posting a sparkling 15-3-0 record.
"When we looked at our schedule before this, we thought if we can come out this tough stretch just above .500, we'll be happy," said Huska, the Rockets head coach. "To do as well as the guys did, we're really pleased…they did a good job of showing up on the road and coming to play pretty much every night."
The Rockets are about to reap the rewards of those thousands of kilometres on the road as they open a three-game home stand Wednesday night against the Everett Silvertips.
Kelowna will play 17 of its last 27 regular season games at Prospera Place, including 11 of the next 14.
Even with an 11-point lead in the overall standings, Huska said his club needs to bear down and make the most of the abundance of home games over the next month.
"We can't have a let-up, we have to keep reminding ourselves that we have to make the most of our home games now," Huska said. "If we can take advantage of this and keep adding wins, then we're in control of where we end up. It's important that we don't change anything and continue to push and keep working hard."
Forward Marek Tvrdon, acquired Jan. 8 from Vancouver, made his debut on the weekend against Victoria, playing on a line with Nick Merkley and Ryan Olsen. The 20-year-old Slovak scored his first goal as a Rocket in Sunday's 5-3 win over the Royals.
The Rockets (37-6-0-2) are home for two games this weekend, Friday against Medicine Hat and Saturday against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
On Sunday, Kelowna will visit the Seattle Thunderbirds.