Head coach Dan Lambert was happy to return home and find nothing much had changed in his absence—the Kelowna Rockets were still riding high atop the Western Hockey League.
Under the interim guidance of assistants Kris Mallette and Travis Crickard, the Rockets posted a 5-0-1 record to further stretch their lead in the WHL standings.
Lambert, who spent 10 days in Sarnia, Ont. at the World Under 17 Challenge before returning to Kelowna on Sunday night, wasn’t surprised by the job performed by his right-hand men.
“They did a great job,” Lambert said of Mallette and Crickard. “I watched most of the games and was very happy with the we played. I’m not surprised at all…they’re both good coaches and very capable.”
Lambert has re-joined the Rockets (17-1-1-0) for the start of a five-game road trip Tuesday night in Spokane.
The club begins the road tour without the services of captain Madison Bowey and centre Tyson Baillie who are with Team WHL for the Subway Super Series this week in Saskatoon and Brandon.
Both are expected back in the lineup for Friday’s game in Prince George against the Cougars.
As for the World U17 Challenge, Lambert served as head coach of Team Red, one of three Canadian teams competing in a new format at the annual international tournament.
Lambert’s team lost in overtime to Canada Team White in the 5th/6th place game, while Canada Black finished seventh. Russia beat the U.S. in the final.
“Obviously Hockey Canada was disappointed with where our teams finished, but the competition was very strong and those other teams play with one another for a long stretch of time,” Lambert said. “In saying that that, we did beat Sweden and that would be the highlight of our week.
“It was a good experience,” he added, “a real eye-opener.”
The Rockets’ next home action is Nov. 21 and 22 vs the Portland Winterhawks.