It’s been seven seasons since the Kelowna Rockets have been able to protect home ice with such efficiency.
On Friday night, the Rockets will pursue their 10th consecutive WHL victory at Prospera Place when they play host to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
It’s the longest run of home prosperity since the club won 11 consecutive games from Nov. 9, 2005 to Jan. 7, 2006.
While then-assistant coach Ryan Huska can’t recall precisely what the recipe for success was seven years ago, the current head coach points to leadership as the key factor in 2012-13.
“I think (captain) Colton Sissons has done a good job with leadership in our dressing room, he’s done a good job of getting our co-captains and older players rallied,” said Huska. “Those guys are showing a lot of pride in playing at home, and they’re coming to the rink prepared to play and work hard.”
While not nearly as impressive as their previous three victories on home ice—by a combined score of 23-4—the Rockets (16-8-1-1) found a way to run their winning streak at Prospera to nine games on Wednesday night with a 3-2 victory over Tri-City.
Huska wasn’t overly pleased with the effort and said his team took its foot off the gas after jumping out to an early 2-0 lead.
“I thought Tri-City was the better team,” said Huska. “We were thinking after the first two goals things were going to come easy without putting the work in, but that’s not the way not works.
“The reality is that every team in this league is good, and those games we won by wide margins, we can’t expect that to continue. We need to keep playing hard as a team.”
Huska has a similar message for Friday’s encounter with the Warriors, a team that opened its western B.C. road swing with wins over Victoria and Vancouver.
“(Moose Jaw) is a good, young team that works very hard,” Huska said. “They’re going to force us to be a lot better than we were (Wednesday) if we want to have success against them.”
On Saturday, the Rockets will travel to Seattle to take on the Thunderbirds.
With not enough ice to distribute amongst their forwards, the Rockets made a move Thursday by dealing winger Filip Vasko to the Red Deer Rebels.
In exchange, Kelowna receives a conditional sixth-round draft choice in 2013.
Vasko, a native of Humenne, Slovakia, was in his second season with the Rockets and had three goals and seven assists in 19 games this season.
An import draft selection in 2011, he joined the Rockets for the 2011-12 WHL season and had 12 assists in 51 games as a rookie.