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Prince George locks up WHL BC Division title at expense of Kelowna Rockets

The Rockets lost 6-5 in the shootout to the Cougars and beat Vancouver in weekend games
The Prince George Cougars locked up the WHL BC Division title for the 2023-2024 season with a 6-5 shootout win over the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on Feb. 24, 2024. (Steve Dunsmoor/Kelowna Rockets photo)

A loss and a win for the Kelowna Rockets as they hosted Vancouver and Prince George at Prospera Place on Feb. 23 and 25.

The Rockets had a comeback win over the Giants Friday night.

Vancouver took a 1-0 lead late in the first period, but Kelowna allowed no shots on net in the second and scored four unanswered goals to win 4-1.

Andrew Cristall (34) scored a natural hat trick, two on the power play, with assists to Max Graham, Caden Price, Gabriel Szturc, and Carter Kowalyk.

“It’s good it came like, so I’ll take it,” Cristall said after the game of his third hat trick of the season. “I definitely wanted to come to the game and shoot a lot of pucks.”

Luke Schelter scored Kelowna’s fourth goal assisted by Hiroki Gojsic. The Rockets went 2/4 on the power play while Vancouver was 0/5.

On Saturday night, the Cougars clawed to a shootout win over the Rockets.

Tij Iginla (39) put Kelowna on the board halfway through the first period with assists to Gojsic and Szturc.

Prince George then reeled off three straight goals in the second period from Hudson Thornton and two from Zac Funk, each scoring once on the power play.

Iginla (40) netted his second of the game at 8:31 closing the gap to 3-2. Michael Cicek and Caden Price had the assists.

The Cougars’ Riley Heidt restored the two-goal lead just over five minutes later.

Kelowna closed the gap to 4-3 on a goal by Max Graham at 16:41 with Cristall and Ethan Mittelsteadt assisting.

Gojsic tied the game just under five minutes into the third period with the assists going to Kowalyk and Iginla.

Prince George went up 5-4 as Funk completed his hat trick, on the power play, at 17:09.

The Rockets would tie the game just 46 seconds later on Gojisc’s second goal of the game, assisted by Cicek and Iginla.

With no goals in overtime, Prince George would win it 6-5 in the shootout and lock up the BC Division title for the 2023-24 season. The Cougars’ Ondrej Becher was the lone goal scorer.

Prince George was 3/5 with the man advantage, while the Rockets power play went 0/3. The Cougars outshot Kelowna 41-31.

The game featured the Rockets wearing special theme Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jerseys that are currently up for auction. Funds raised will support BC Children’s Hospital.

The Rockets’ record is now 26-28-3-1, seventh in the Western Conference, and their two next games are on the road, against the Vancouver Giants on March 1 and the TriCity Americans on March 2.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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