Devante Stephens (right) and the Kelowna Rockets will close out the WHL regular season this weekend with a home-and-home set against Chase Lang and the Vancouver Giants.

Devante Stephens (right) and the Kelowna Rockets will close out the WHL regular season this weekend with a home-and-home set against Chase Lang and the Vancouver Giants.

Rockets begin shift into postseason mode

Kelowna will wrap up regular season with two games vs Giants, then will prepare for either Kamloops or Prince George in WHL postseason

As much as the Kelowna Rockets wanted top spot, Rourke Chartier sees no downside to a second-place finish in the WHL’s B.C. Division.

Quite the contrary, the 19-year-old centre believes his club is well-positioned heading into the 2015-16 playoffs.

With the potential of home-ice advantage for at least the first two rounds, Chartier said the Rockets are on solid ground for a meaningful postseason run.

“It would have been nice to have home ice for the whole playoffs, but last year we didn’t finish first in our league and we had to win a series on the road, so at the end of the day (second) isn’t that big of a deal,” Chartier said.

“Playoffs are a different monster and we’ll be ready.”

The Rockets will see the B.C. Division’s third-place finisher—either Kamloops or Prince George—in the best-of-seven opening round, beginning Friday, March 25 at Prospera Place.

The Blazers have a four-point lead on the Cougars, as the two teams face off head-to-head twice this weekend to close out the regular season.

The Rockets, who will close out the regular season with two against the Giants, would like use those as momentum builders into the playoffs.

Kelowna (46-20-4-0) hasn’t been at its best, losing five of the last seven games, including a 7-4 setback Wednesday night at home to the Victoria Royals (48-16-3-3), who clinched both the B.C. Division and WHL overall regular season titles in the process.

The loss—the Rockets fifth in eight games against the Royals—also officially ended Kelowna’s three-year reign as B.C. champs.

While the most recent outcomes haven’t been satisfactory, head coach Brad Ralph said if his team stays the course, success will follow.

“I think we’re playing better hockey,” said Ralph. “We haven’t been getting the results, I think we’re finding ways to lose right now rather than finding ways to win. I like the direction we’re moving in, so I’m confident we’ll find a way here.”

The Rockets will visit Vancouver on Friday night, before wrapping up the season against the Giants on Saturday at Prospera Place.

 

 

Kelowna Capital News