Rockets look to break the ice

Getting out of the gate slowly is nothing new to the Kelowna Rockets.

In each of the last four years, points in the first two weeks of the regular season have been sparse, at best.

In 2010-11, a familiar scenario has the WHL club off to a frustrating 0-3 start.

One of the main culprits so far has been a quiet power play, with just two goals to show for 15 chances.

“What we have to get going sooner, rather than later, is our power play,” said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. “If we would have been a little better in both games against Tri-City, then maybe the outcomes could have been different. We’ll be working on that a lot this week.”

What the Rockets power play has been missing as much as anything is two of its most dangerous weapons. Captain and power play quarterback Tyson Barrie (hamstring) has been out since the season opener, while forward Shane McColgan (tonsils) has yet to play. However, both have been skating with the team this week and are aiming for a possible return this Friday night in Vancouver.

Despite the Rockets’ winless beginning, Huska and his staff have been encouraged with their club’s effort over the last two games.

Two strong periods in a 4-3 loss to the Americans last Wednesday were followed by 60 solid minutes on Friday night in a 1-0 loss in Kennewick, as the Rockets out shot Tri-City 34-26.

“Our effort and work ethic, especially in our last game, was very good for all three periods,” said Huska. “I thought we deserved to at least get a point. It’s a matter of getting a consistent work ethic every night and, if the players do that, then the results will come. It’s beginning to get ingrained in their heads that that’s the way we need to play.”

In the Giants this Friday, the Rockets will face a team that has undergone a number of changes in the off season, particularly on defense. Up front, Vancouver (3-3) is led by veterans Craig Cunningham, Brendan Gallagher and James Henry.

“They’re a bit of a different team in terms of personnel, but they’ll be the same in how hard they play,” said Huska. “They’re a very hardworking team, they have a dangerous power play, and in their building they’re a momentum-type team that can feed off the crowd. They’re always tough games.”

The Rockets will play three games in three nights this weekend as they visit Vancouver Friday, host the Prince Albert Raiders Saturday, 7 p.m. at Prospera Place, then head to Everett to play the ‘Tips on Sunday night.

whenderson@kelownacapnews.com

Kelowna Capital News