Brad Ralph would like nothing more than to meet up with the Victoria Royals in the third round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.
It’s just one reason why Wednesday’s final regular season meeting at Prospera Place between the B.C. Division rivals carries added importance for the Kelowna Rockets.
“It’s a big game, they’re playing well right now and we want to come out with a strong effort,” the Rockets coach said of the Royals. “We want to send them a message that if we meet in the playoffs, it’s going to be a heck of a series.”
Although their chances have been dwindling of late, the Rockets are still chasing the Royals for first place overall in the WHL.
With three games remaining, Kelowna (46-19-4-0) trails Victoria (47-16-3-3) by four points.
The Rockets need a win over the Royals Wednesday, then some help from the Everett Silvertips who will play Victoria twice this weekend.
Kelowna closes out the regular season with a home-and-home set vs the Vancouver Giants.
Undoubtedly, Ralph would like to see the Rockets ramp up their game heading into the playoffs.
Kelowna hasn’t been at its best over the last two weeks, going 2-3-1 over six games, including a 6-4 loss Saturday in Tri-City.
The Rockets are coming off a busy stretch of four games in five nights, but Ralph isn’t using fatigue as an alibi.
“Those stretches are never easy, but that’s no excuse,” he said. “We should have been better, particularly on Saturday.”