Rockets look to fly right against Hitmen

Kelowna tries to bounce back from two home-ice WHL losses Wednesday against Calgary

Kyle Topping and the Kelowna Rockets will host the Calgary Hitmen tonight in WHL action at Prospera Place.

Five losses in six games wasn’t at all how the Kelowna Rockets had planned on closing out the month of January.

Jason Smith’s club will be looking to establish a new trend beginning tonight at home against the Calgary Hitmen.

Face-off at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.

The Rockets are coming off back-to-back Western Hockey League losses at home last weekend, including a deflating 5-4 defeat Saturday night at the hands of the Portland Winterhawks.

Kelowna surrendered a 4-1 lead, with Portland netting the game winner with just 3.8 seconds remaining in the third period.

The Rockets head coach said a troubling tendency that has crept into his club’s games over the last couple weeks has to be rectified.

“We’ve talked about the structure and detail we need to play with and how we’ve swayed away from that the last little while,” said Smith. “Over the last bunch of games we’ve gotten away from playing complete games and that’s cost us.

“We need get back to playing simple, smart hockey.”

An element of smart hockey Smith is referring to is the Rockets’ propensity for undisciplined penalties.

Kelowna has yielded nine power play goals on 37 chances over the six-game stretch (1-4-1-0).

Due to the recent swoon, the Rockets have also slid in the B.C. Division standings. Kelowna (27-19-4-0) is now fourth in the division, four points back of third-place Victoria and seven back of second-place Kamloops.

Defenceman Cal Foote and forward Kole Lind are both expected back in the club’s lineup tonight against the Hitmen.

The Kelowna teammates were in Quebec City Monday night to play in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

Forward Carsen Twarynski is also close to a return for the Rockets after sitting out the last two games with an illness.

This weekend, the Rockets will be on the road for two games, Friday and Saturday nights, against the B.C. Division-leading Prince George Cougars.

The Cougars (36-14-3-0), who share the WHL’s overall lead with the Regina Pats, are 3-0-0 against Kelowna this season.

 

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