The Kelowna Rockets will soon have another red, white and black banner to hoist to the rafters of Prospera Place.
The hometown Rockets clinched the WHL’s B.C. Division title for the seventh time in franchise history Wednesday night with a 6-3 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars.
Captain Cal Foote paced the Rockets attack with three points, including his 18th and 19th goals of the season.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Foote said of clinching the division crown. “It’s my first one in the three years I’ve been here, so it’s a great feeling. I know it was one of our goals the whole season, so it definitely feels awesome.”
Despite outshooting the Cougars by a wide margin, the Rockets struggled for the better part of 40 minutes to find their rhythm and found themselves down 2-1. But the tide began to turn early in the third when rookie Kaeden Korczak scored his fourth goal of the season just 23 seconds in.
Then, at 6:08 of the final period, just after a 5-on-3 Kelowna power play opportunity had expired, Dillon Dube set up Foote’s first of two goals to snap a 2-2 tie and the Rockets were ahead to stay.
Kelowna forward Nolan Foote scored in his first game back in the lineup, netting his 13th of the season to tie the game 1-1 with three minutes remaining in the first period. Foote had been sidelined since Feb. 3 with an upper body injury, a span of 17 games.
“I felt good, it felt good to get some shifts and get back with the boys,” said Nolan Foote. “It felt like I’m in shape, so I’m excited to be back and headed to playoffs.”
Dube and Leif Mattson also scored for the Rockets who outshot the Cougars 50-18. Taylor Gauthier made 44 saves in the Prince George net, while James Porter stopped 15 shots for Kelowna.
Aaron Boyd, Brogan O’Brien and Ryan Schoetller, with a goal late in the third, scored for the Cougars.
The Rockets will wrap up the regular season this weekend with a home-and-home set against the Vancouver Giants—Friday in Langley, then again Saturday at Prospera Place. Face off is 7:05 p.m.
The Rockets will open the playoffs at home, with Games 1 and 2 set for Thursday, March 22 and Saturday, March 24 at Prospera Place.
Meanwhile, the club will hold its annual awards ceremony Sunday afternoon at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
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