The Kelowna Rockets of recent years have rarely been shut out in their own building.
The Victoria Royals became the first team in more than three seasons to execute the deed with a 3-0 victory over the defending WHL champs Friday night at Prospera Place.
The Rockets, who had scored 34 goals in their first seven games this season, got off to a strong start and pressured the Royals early, but couldn’t find a way to solve goalie Coleman Vollrath who stopped all 26 shots he faced.
After the early onslaught, head coach Brad Ralph said the Rockets were unwilling to pay the necessary price against a defensively conscious team.
“We didn’t get the scoring chances we’re accustomed to getting, therefore we weren’t willing to get in on the forecheck to make those hits, to go to the net and get traffic,” said Ralph.
“It’s a good lesson for us, you’ve got to earn it every night. You’ve gotta pay a price in front of the net to score goals, you can’t score pretty plays and one-timers outside the dot-line all season long so…you’ve got to manufacture goals and we didn’t do that.”
After a scoreless first 40 minutes, the Royals broke the ice at 2:55 of the third when Ryan Peckford beat Jackson Whistle from in tight on a pass from Jack Walker.
Matthew Phillips banked one in off Joe Gatenby on a power play to make it 2-0 at 7:55, before Vladimir Bobylev provided an insurance marker with an empty net goal at 18:25.
The Rockets were coming off a taxing road trip which saw them play four games in five nights in Alberta. Ralph conceded fatigue may have been a factor.
“The guys have been tired,” said Ralph. “When you have that type of schedule, that road trip, it takes time.
“I thought we needed to get out to that early lead because I knew we’d be tired down the stretch but it didn’t happen for us.”
The last time the Rockets were shutout at home was Feb. 8, 2012 by the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The Rockets were without centre Rourke Chartier Friday due to an upper body injury. His status for a return to the lineup is considered week-to-week.
The Rockets (5-3-0-0) are back in action Wednesday night at home when they take on the Red Deer Rebels.