The Kelowna Rockets were intent on halting their longest slump of the WHL campaign on Wednesday night at Prospera Place.
Tyler Benson and the Vancouver Giants had other ideas.
The Giants’ captain scored a 3:56 of overtime to lead Vancouver to a 4-3 victory, handing the B.C. Division-leading Rockets their season-high fifth straight loss.
“I think we did some good things for parts of the game, but I think we struggled to play a complete game again,” said Smith. “We got off track, especially in the third period. We didn’t manage the puck, we didn’t defend well enough to maintain the lead.
“We’ve done some good things,” Smith added on the team’s recent five-game slump, “but not for long enough to win games.”
The Rockets trailed 2-1 in the second period, but a pair of second-period power play goals by Carsen Twarynski, his 41st and 42nd of the season, put Kelowna ahead after 40 minutes.
But the Rockets couldn’t close the door on their division rivals, as Alex Kannock Leipert scored with 3:38 left in the third to force overtime and set the stage for Benson’s 3-on-3 winner.
The victory ended years of frustration at Prospera Place for the Giants, who won for the first time in Kelowna since March 2011, a span of 26 games.
Both goaltenders were solid, with Rockets rookie James Porter making 32 stops, while David Tendeck stopped 35 shots in the Vancouver net.
Erik Gardiner also scored for the Rockets, while Ty Ronning and Owen Hardy had Vancouver’s other goals.
The Rockets (38-22-5-2) lead over Victoria atop the BC Division is now three points after the Royals lost 5-2 at home to Spokane Wednesday.
The Rockets return to action this weekend with a home-and-home set against the Kamloops Blazers.
The B.C. rivals meet Friday in Kamloops, then again Saturday night at Prospera Place.
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