Forward Brett Bulmer (right) returns to the Kelowna Rockets lineup Wednesday after missing 14 games with a leg injury.

Rockets fine tune for playoff run

Kelowna has won nine of its last 10 games

It’s a universal theme in the WHL: Teams want to be playing their best hockey as they head into the post-season.

With nine wins in their last 10 games, the Kelowna Rockets are looking an awful lot like a club that is playoff-ready.

“Over the last 10 games we’ve been playing much more as a team and less and less as individuals and, as coach, that’s what you want to see,” said Huska. “A lot of times, if you do that and play as a team you can beat those teams that have more skill. We still have things to work on, but our players are really buying in so hopefully that continues this week and into the playoffs.”

The B.C. Division champs will close out the regular season with three games this week.

The Rockets (42-26-0-1) will host Seattle Wednesday, then will finish up with a home-and-home set Friday and Saturday against the Vancouver Giants.

With top spot already in the bag—Kelowna clinched Friday night with a 5-1 win in Kamloops—Huska said his club can concentrate on fine tuning for the playoffs rather than having to battle tooth-and-nail for a division pennant.

“It’s nice to have it wrapped up a week early and not to have it all come down to those final games,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to get everybody ice time, not to overuse some guys and make sure they’re rested for playoffs.

“It also allows us to focus more attention on those areas that are so crucial in the playoffs, like special teams.”

And while the playoffs will quickly become the focus for the Rockets, Huska said it doesn’t mean the novelty of the club’s first B.C. crown in seven years has worn off.

“Vancouver had won it five years in a row, so for our guys to take it away from them is a great achievement,” said Huska. “Winning a division title isn’t easy so the guys should be proud of what they’ve done.

“It also gives us that second seed for the playoffs and that’s important,” said Huska.

The Rockets also remain in the running for third overall in the conference as they trail Tri-City by just one point. The Americans have one game in hand.

“We might need some help, but we’re in a position where we still have a shot at third, so we’ll see what happens.”

A potentially good omen for the Rockets on the eve of the playoffs is the gradually improving state of the team’s health.

Forward Brett Bulmer returns to the lineup Wednesday against Seattle after missing 14 games with a leg injury.

“It was a pretty frustrating time being off, but now that I’m back and pretty excited about it,” said Bulmer who has 47 points in 54 games this season. “The guys are playing well right now, playoffs are going to be huge for us and I think this is the year the franchise can go a long way.”

The Rockets will open the playoffs at home on Friday, March 25. Based on the current standings, their most likely opponent in the opening round is the Everett Silvertips, while Prince George and Kamloops are both still in the running for seventh spot.

Rocket Shots…Rockets’ stopper Adam Brown has been named the Canadian Hockey League’s goaltender of the week. The 19-year-old California native posted a 3-0-0 record, a goals against average of 0.65 and a save percentage of .979 in a pair of wins over Kamloops and one against Tri-City.


Just Posted

Documentary series features local wineries and restaurants

Quest Out West Wild Food launches Jan. 18

West Kelowna looking at three per cent tax increase

Council grapples with 2018 budget, rejects addition of more cops, firefighters

Tech funding announced for Kelowna post-secondary institutions

UBCO and Okanagan College are getting funding to expand their tech programs

Arbitrated settlement for Kelowna jail guards

Details of arbitration settlement in contract dispute not released

Kelowna art exhibition showcases connection to environment

The opening of Blue Renew – art:debris is Jan. 18

The snow capped hills around Carr’s Landing

Andre Paris has posted another drone video showcasing Lake Country’s beauty

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

UPDATE: Highway reopened following fatal crash south of Armstrong

Highway 97A crash south of Pleasant Valley cross road near Spallumcheen claims a life

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Canadian junior captain returns to Rockets lineup

Dillon Dube will be back in Kelowna’s lineup Wednesday night after world juniors and bout of flu

Most Read