Kelowna Rockets forward Dillon Dube breaks in for a scoring chance with Portland's Caleb Jones in pursuit in WHL action Friday night at Prospera Place.

Rockets ground ‘Hawks for fifth straight win

Rourke Chartier scores twice in Kelowna's 34th victory of WHL season

The Kelowna Rockets continue to be the Western Hockey League’s least charitable team on home ice.

On Friday night, the Rockets made it 4-for-4 on their current home stand with a 5-3 victory over the Portland Winterhawks at Prospera Place.

Rourke Chartier scored twice and Nick Merkley added a goal and an assist as Kelowna won its fifth straight game overall, and pushed its WHL best home-ice record to 19-2-2-0.

With three games facing his team in as many nights, Ralph said it was encouraging to see another solid effort in front of the hometown fans.

“We’ve been good,” head coach Brad Ralph said of his team’s play at home. “We definitely, in a stretch like this, need to be good the first two nights to give ourselves a chance.

“Our team has generally been a strong starting team, we’ve come out strong, which obviously is important. Our power play was clicking tonight which was a key to our success…so yeah, a lot positives at home right now.”

Chartier, Merkley and Tyson Baillie, with his team-leading 29th of the season, all scored on the power play as Kelowna went 3-for-7 with the man advantage.

On the other side of the special teams coin, the Rockets were perfect when playing shorthanded, killing off all five minor penalties.

“It was great to see our penalty kill tight,” Ralph said. “Penalty kill is one of those situations where you don’t always get rewarded, so it was nice to see our numbers going up.”

Justin Kirkland added a goal and an assist in the win, while Michael Herringer, making his 10th consecutive start, stopped 21 shots in the Rockets net.

As for the Chartier line, the 19-year-old centre, along with Merkley and Calvin Thurkauf were a constant threat against the ‘Hawks, combining for eight points.

“I thought he was competing really hard tonight,” Ralph said of Chartier. “I thought he was good in traffic, a strong puck-posssesion game for Charts.

“You see that chemistry between Charts and Merks (Merkley), and Thurkauf had three assists, so they’re hard to handle for other teams.”

Rodney Southam, who was named the Rockets’ captain on Monday, made his debut as the team’s official leader on Friday night.

The Rockets (34-11-3-0) will close out a five-game home stand Saturday night at Prospera Place against the Victoria Royals.

Kelowna will then visit the Seattle Thunderbirds Sunday in a 5 p.m. start.

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