The Kelowna Rockets earned full marks from the coaching staff for a hard-fought win over the visiting Spokane Chiefs Wednesday night.
Just how well his team follows up tonight against Seattle will tell head man Ryan Huska a lot about where the Rockets stand with the playoffs looming around the corner.
“The last three games we’ve played very well and we have a chance to make some noise heading in to the playoffs,” said Huska. “The challenge is our next game on Friday…we’re coming off a win over a good team like Spokane, now we need to follow that up with the same kind of effort against Seattle.
“After a big game like we had, sometimes there’s a bit of a let-up, no matter who you’re playing next,” Huska continued. “We’re going to challenge the guys not to let that happen and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.”
Despite trailing the Chiefs by 19 points in the standings, the Rockets held the edge in play on Wednesday, out shooting Spokane 33-21 on the way to a 3-2 shootout win. Brandon McMillan, who scored a shorthanded marker in regulation time, netted the deciding goal in the shootout.
Even with the win, the Rockets still aren’t getting the desired results in the goal-scoring department.
Kelowna has tallied just 16 times in regulation in the last eight games. Much of the concern revolves around the power play which has produced just one goal in the last 35 chances.
“We’re still having guys on the power play that are trying too hard, trying to make too much happen,” he said. “When things aren’t coming along well, it really wears on the players. The guys just have to keep it simple and get pucks to the net.”
On the other side of the coin, Huska couldn’t be much happier with the club’s defensive play with just six goals allowed in the last four games.
Huska cited Collin Bowman and Colton Jobke for both stepping up their games and playing solid, responsible hockey in their own zone.
“We’re playing well defensively and if we can find a way to chip in a little more offensively, we’ll be in good shape,” Huska added. “We’re actually playing a pretty good team game at both ends of the ice. We just need to keep it going and build towards the playoffs.”
With five games remaining in the regular season, the Rockets (31-30-2-4) are sixth in the Western Conference, two points ahead of Kamloops (30-32-2-4) and four up on Chilliwack (29-31-1-5).
The Rockets will host the Vancouver Giants Saturday at 7 p.m.