Kelowna Rockets goalie Jordon Cooke has some big pads to fill in replacing Rockets record setting goaltender Adam Brown, who graduated to the pro hockey ranks this season.
This weekend on the road in Portland, Cooke showed what he can do in helping the Rockets to its first win of the Western Hockey League season.
Cooke stopped 43 of 46 shots on Saturday night as the Rockets defeated the Winterhawks 4-3 and split two games in Portland, against the sixth ranked team in the CHL.
“You look at Jordon and he has put in his time, he’s worked very hard the last couple of years and he’s been patient,” said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. “Now he’s got an opportunity to play and play a lot of games and we’re looking forward to seeing him develop.”
Cooke’s importance to the team was demonstrated late in Saturday’s game with Portland. With the score tied at 3-3 and the Rockets still looking for its first win of the season, Cooke stopped Portland’s Brendan Leipsic on a breakaway. The momentum turned the other way and Zach Franko took a pass from Ryan Olsen and scored the game winning goal with about a minute to play in the game.
The Rockets win on Saturday followed a tight 1-0 loss on Friday night.
“We found a way to get the split and that was what we were looking for,” said Huska, who added getting the first win of the season will loosen up his players heading into another WHL week.
“It’s a mental thing,” he said. “I think once you have that first one that added pressure is off and your guys are able to focus on playing hard and having fun when they are on the ice. We want to keep building and developing and playing our style of hockey.”
The Rockets (1-2-1-0) will host the Vancouver Giants (1-3-0-0) at Prospera Place on Wednesday before heading to Prince George for a weekend double-header.
The Vancouver game will be just the second home game for the Rockets and Huska says Vancouver has become a great rival.
“Over the years they have become our biggest rival,” he said. “Everytime we play against each other the games are always good and always intense. We have to have a hard working night, be good in our own zone and around the net and compete for a full 60 minutes.”