Defenceman Madison Bowey and the Kelowna Rockets will battle the No. 1 team in the Canadian Hockey League when they host Tyler Bell and the Kamloops Blazers Thursday night.

Rockets look to cool red-hot Blazers

CHL's No. 1 team visits Kelowna Thursday in WHL action

During his four-plus seasons with three different teams in the Western Hockey League, Dylen McKinlay has had his share of battles with the Kamloops Blazers.

The 20-year-old Kelowna Rockets’ forward expects few will rival the intensity and excitement surrounding Thursday night’s matchup with the Blazers at Prospera Place.

On top of being the No. 1-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League, Kamloops (16-0-0-1) is riding a club-record 14-game winning streak.

While not nearly as hot as the Blazers, the Rockets (8-6-1-1) have been playing some decent hockey of their own with four wins and a shootout loss over the last six games.

“It’s going to be pretty exciting, it’s going to be a really good test to see where we’re at,” said McKinlay, who was acquired by the Rockets from Kootenay in September. “The first couple of games we played them tough, we had a chance to win them both but we didn’t. I think we owe them one, so we’re all excited about it.”

The teams met in a home-and-home series to open the WHL season, with the Blazers winning both times—6-5 in overtime and 3-2.

In each game, the Rockets fell victim to a potent Blazers’ power play which is currently operating at 34 per cent efficiency, second best in the WHL.

Safe to say, limiting the damage by the likes of the dangerous JC Lipon (40 points), Colin Smith (39 points) and Tim Bozon (30 points) will be crucial to the Rockets’ success on Thursday.

“There are a couple keys for us, (goalie) Jordon Cooke will need to have a good night and we can’t take foolish penalties,” said Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton. “If you give them power plays, they’ll run up the score on you. The (Blazers) are a run-and-shoot type of team, so we need to compete hard, be physical and stay disciplined.”

Although Hamilton would prefer Kamloops to be chasing his team in the standings, the Rockets GM regards the Blazers’ resurgence as a force in the B.C. Division as a positive development for both organizations.

Hamilton is hopeful the Rockets and Blazers can rekindle the heated rivalries that were prevalent a decade ago.

“Hopefully we can get back to where we used to be, where all the games really mean something,” Hamilton said. “The games were exciting, there was emotion and the fans were into it. The rivalry we had was unreal.

“It’s up to us to chase them, but I’m thrilled for those guys in Kamloops,” he added. “(Owners) Tom Gaglardi and Mark Recchi have done a great job, (GM) Craig Bonner has done a wonderful job of building that team. It’s great to see them doing well and it’s good for our team, too.”

Thursday’s game against the Blazers opens a four-game home stand for Kelowna.

The Rockets will host Prince George Saturday, Edmonton on Wednesday, and Red Deer next Friday.

 

 

Just Posted

Blasting set to start in West Kelowna’s Tallus Ridge neighbourhood

Blasting being done to prepare for 10th and 11th phases of development

Mill Creek is open once again

The Kelowna park has been closed due to flooding in 2017

911 jams causes panic among residents

RDOS chair received several calls and texts from panicked residents unable to get through to 911

Missing West Kelowna Man’s body found

The 52-year old was found near Shannon Lake

Outdoor irrigation banned in Falcon Ridge east of Kelowna

Central Okanagan Regional District says two reservoirs need to be refilled

Neighbours jump into action after grass fire ignites 10 feet from Kelowna home

Multiple fire halls responded to a grass fire on the 800 block of Mount Royal Drive.

Cougar shot by police in Nanaimo

Shooting occurred in water at Nanaimo Yacht Club at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday

Vernon guard joins Heat for 2018-19 season

Two-time Vernon Panthers MVP Leon Schenker is among UBCO basketball’s new recruits

Summerland wildfire grows to 50 hectares

More than 40 firefighters are on scene of the wildfire near Mount Conkle, just outside of Summerland.

14-year-old pilot attempts to break Guinness World Record at B.C. airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab wants to become youngest pilot with fewest hours logged to fly solo

Non-wildfire related calls line plague dispatchers, block line

The logjam of callers Tuesday night resulted in long wait times for people legitimately calling about new fire activity.

Price no guarantee for safety with horse riding helmets: new report

A Swedish insurance report reveals that many brands of equestrian helmets do not protect riders as well as they could.

South Okanagan firefighters save veteran’s house

33 members, with the help of B.C. Wildfire, protect Second World War veterans home from fire

One year later: Still no suspects in killing of 13-year-old B.C. girl

Marrisa Shen was killed in Burnaby’s Central Park on July 18, 2017

Most Read