Dan Lambert isn’t one to make sweeping judgements about a team or season based on a single week of hockey.
However, three convincing wins in as many tries to kick off the Western Hockey League campaign has the rookie head coach and his Kelowna Rockets in an enviable spot.
The Rockets have overwhelmed their opponents by a combined score of 21-5, a direct result of both depth and experience, according to Lambert.
“I think you’ve got to look at our lineup and see that we have 18 returning guys on this team, they’re a year older and more experienced, and I think it’s that more than anything,” said Lambert. “We feel we have a good hockey club and we want to have success. So it’s nice to see us come out of the gates like we did.”
On Wednesday night, the Rockets will look to push their record to 4-0 when they host the Vancouver Giants. Face off at Prospera Place at 7 p.m.
After opening with season with a 6-1 win over Kamloops, the Rockets routed Prince George on successive nights last weekend, 7-2 and 8-2.
Veteran centre Tyson Baillie has spearheaded Kelowna’s attack with four goals and eight points, while Nick Merkley, Colton Heffley, Riley Stadel and Kris Schmidli are also in the top 10 in WHL scoring.
And in his first game back on Saturday, captain Madison Bowey rung up three assists and is expected to provide a major thrust from the blue line all season.
On top of it all, the power play has been red hot with nine goals in 22 chances.
From Heffley’s perspective, the Rockets’ ability to roll four competent lines has been a key to the club’s early success.
“It makes it easier to play when you’ve got four lines that can go out there and score,” said Heffley, 20, who has three goals and five points so far. “It’s a lot easier for everyone to just go out there and play. Our philosophy has always been to come at the other team in waves, so it’s really nice to have four good lines.”
As for the club’s early 3-0 record, Lambert is clearly pleased but is hesitant to put too much stock into one week of hockey.
“We just want to get better every day, I say that to the players all the time,” Lambert said. “If they come out here and be nonchalant and not work hard in practise, then they’ve wasted a day. We want to keep working on areas that we’re weaker in, and get stronger in the areas we’re strong in.”
Following Wednesday night’s game against the Giants, the Rockets will head south for a weekend in Washington. On Friday, Kelowna will visit the Everett Silvertips, before moving on to Kent on Saturday to face the Seattle Thunderbirds.