Rockets' forward Mitchell Callahan has eight points in the last two games.

Rockets' forward Mitchell Callahan has eight points in the last two games.

Rockets look to bury rocky start

If only every month began like November for the Kelowna Rockets.

Back-to-back wins this week—led by an awakened power play—have the Western Hockey League club threatening to turn the corner on a woeful start to the season.

The Rockets look to continue their newfound prosperity this weekend with two more games against division rivals—Friday in Vancouver against the Giants, and Saturday at home to Chilliwack.

After an unexpected 0-4 beginning, the Rockets have clawed their way back to a 6-10 record. Not ideal in Ryan Huska’s mind, but it’s a start.

“We’re trying to turn the page on a tough start to the season,” said Huska, the Rockets head coach. “The guys did a good job of fighting through things when they weren’t going well, and we’ve seen some results the last couple of games. The challenge now is not to look at the past, but to go forward and get better everyday. If we do that, we’ll see the results.”

Both Rockets wins this week can be credited, in large part, to the club’s previously dormant power play.

Kelowna scored twice with the man advantage in a 6-2 win Tuesday at home at Prince George, then three more times on the PP in Wednesday’s 5-2 triumph in Kamloops.

Huska said the Rockets’ quarterback on the power play is largely responsible for the turnaround.

“A lot of it has to do with Tyson’s (Barrie) work up top,” said Huska. “The decisions he’s making are better than they were earlier in the year and our power play is benefitting from it. He’s healthier, too, than he was early in the season, he was a little rusty and I think you’re seeing him be more like himself again.”

Barrie’s output of five points (1-4) over the last two games has only been bettered by Mitchell Callahan. The feisty 19-year-old forward registered three goal and five assists and now leads the Rockets with 18 points overall.

“With the exception of our first four games, Mitchell’s been our best player night in, night out,” Huska said.

In addition to a rejuvenated offense, the Rockets have been getting some timely goaltending from Adam Brown. The Yorba Linda, Calif., product has kicked aside 65 shots in the last two outings.

“He’s been very good for us, especially early in games,” Huska said of Brown, who has boosted his save percentage to an even .900. “When we struggled, he came through for us, held us in and gave us a chance to win games.”

As for this weekend’s task, Huska said there will be no gimmes against either division foe.

“With Vancouver, the biggest challenge is handling (Craig) Cunnigham and (Brendan) Gallagher. Those guys are skilled, they work hard and they bring other guys on the team along with them. Chilliwack works very hard as well. They’re both tough teams to play against.”

The Rockets expect veteran D Brendon Wall to return this weekend after sitting out the last eight games with a concussion.

Kelowna Capital News