Few stretches of hockey in the WHL this season can rival the Kelowna Rockets prolific roll through November.
The play of the Spokane Chiefs over the last two weeks hasn’t been too shabby, either.
The Rockets have nine wins in the last 10 games, while the Chiefs have won five of their past seven—the last two over Portland (3-1) and Kamloops (10-1)—as the teams get set to collide Saturday night in Spokane for the first time this season.
Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said the Chiefs will offer a formidable challenge as his club looks to end the month on a winning note.
“Spokane will be one of the quicker teams that we’ve faced in a while,” said Huska. “They do a great job with their transition game, and they play aggressive without taking a lot of penalties. It’ll be a good test for our guys.”
The two clubs head into the weekend with 26 points apiece and are in the midst of one of the tightest races the Western Conference has ever seen.
Excluding Portland, a mere four points separates the other nine teams in the conference.
“It’s going to be fun,” Huska said. “It should go right down to the end of the year. Watching the standings right now is kind of a futile exercise. With everything so tight, you can’t afford to have a bad stretch. We’ve put ourselves back in the mix and now we have to keep building on that.”
The Rockets (13-11-0-1) are fresh off a 6-1 win over the Regina Pats Wednesday, their fifth straight on home ice.
Forward Geordie Wudrick’s hot streak continued as the 20-year-old forward scored three times. The 6-foot-3 winger, who had a shaky start to the season, has erupted for nine goals in November.
“He’s been a different player over the last couple weeks, there’s an energy and drive back in his game that wasn’t there before,” Huska said. “He must be feeling good about his game, and our hockey club is sure benefitting from that.”
Kelowna’s next home action is Wednesday, Dec. 1 against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
St. Denis released
The Kelowna Rockets have released veteran Kyle St. Denis. The speedy forward had been sidelined for the better part of the last two seasons with concussions. The Rockets initially placed him on injured reserve with the intention of re-examining his status at Christmas.
Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton said the club isn’t confident St. Denis would be fit enough to pass a physical if he did return.
St. Denis is said to be pondering a return to junior hockey in the BCHL. When the Rockets released him, the Vernon Vipers dealt his BCHL rights to the Victoria Grizzlies.