A day after going down 2-0 to the Seattle Thunderbirds in their first round WHL playoff series, the Kelowna Rockets met at Prospera Place on Sunday in preparation for the trip south, to Kent, Washington and the ShoWare Centre.
Players arrived at Prospera Place today after back-to-back overtime games had them unexpectedly down in the series. The two home losses came after the Rockets had lost just five at home all season.
But a hard-working Seattle team put Kelowna in the hole in the series with two workmanlike games, resulting in overtime 2-1 and 5-4 overtime wins
Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said his team has to outwork Seattle when it hits the ice in game three Tuesday in Washington.
“We have to get back to playing as a team for one, and playing the style of game that allowed us to have success all year long,” said Huska. “We have to be determined and be the harder working teams.”
After meeting with the players Sunday, the Rockets coaching staff will put the team through its paces at a Monday morning practice, before leaving on the trip south.
“We told the players we have to get back to playing the way we are capable of playing, that’s the most important thing,” said Huska. “We put ourselves in a tougher spot right now and we have to find a way to get down to Seattle and win the next game.”
After game three Tuesday, the Rockets and T-Birds play game four Wednesday in the series. A Kelowna win in Seattle will ensure game five next Saturday night at Prospera Place.
Huska said the location of the games is irrelevant and the Rockets simply have to be better.
“It doesn’t matter where we are playing, we have got to have that urgency to our game,” he said. “We have a strong team when we play as a team.”
The Rockets added a third affiliate player to its roster on Sunday, adding 2012 second round bantam draft pick defenceman Joe Gatenby to the roster. He joins Nick Merkley and Justin Kirkland traveling with the team.