Rockets close 2016 with home date vs Royals

Kelowna battles division rival Victoria Friday in WHL action

Nick Merkley (right) and the Kelowna Rockets will host Ralph Jarratt and the Victoria Royals Friday night at Prospera Place.

The B.C. Division rival Victoria Royals will provide the opposition Friday night when the Kelowna Rockets bid farewell to 2016 on home ice.

Face-off at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.

The fourth of eight meetings between the WHL foes in 2016-17, the Rockets hold a 2-1-0-0 edge so far in the season series.

The Rockets (23-13-2-0) sit second in the B.C. Division, eight points back of the first-place Prince George Cougars.

The Royals (19-15-4-0) are fourth, six points behind Kelowna.

Despite outshooting the hometown Blazers 47-25, the Rockets are coming off a 5-1 loss Wednesday in Kamloops.

Dylan Ferguson, standing in for Canadian junior goaltender Connor Ingram, made 46 saves in the Kamloops net—37 of them over the final two periods.

Garret Pilon scored twice for the Blazers who fired 25 shots at Brodan Salmond.

Nolan Foote, with his ninth goal of the season, scored the lone marker for Kelowna.

Forward Erik Gardiner drew an assist on Foote’s goal and now has six points in five games since joining the club.

The Rockets acquired Gardiner, a Humboldt, Sask. native, in the deal that sent Jonathan Smart to the Regina Pats late last month.

The Rockets continue to play without four regulars, three of whom are at the world junior hockey championship in Toronto and Montreal—Dillon Dube (Canada), Calvin Thurkauf (Switzerland) and Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic).

Defenseman Gordie Ballhorn remains sidelined with a lower body injury and is expected back within the next three weeks.


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