Rockets look to remedy goal shortage

With just one goal in the last two games, Kelowna hopes to ramp up offence for start of WHL home stand Friday against Saskatoon.

Head coach Jason Smith is preparing his team this week for the start of a four-game WHL homestand.

Making life a lot less bearable for opposing goalies is one of the themes head coach Jason Smith and his staff are pushing hard this week at Kelowna Rockets’ practise.

The Western Hockey League club finished up a three-game road trip to Alberta on Saturday with a respectable 2-1-0 record, but managed to score just one goal over the final two games—a 1-0 victory over Edmonton, followed by a 5-0 loss in Red Deer.

With a four-game home stand set to begin this Friday night at Prospera Place, Smith said the Rockets need to start paying a bigger price to get results in the offensive zone.

“The biggest thing for us the last two games is we haven’t generated enough traffic around the net, we’re not battling the way we need to…we’re just not challenging opposing goalies, makingit too easy for them to see the puck,” said Smith. “We’ve talked about how important it is to battle in the D-zone, and the guys need to know it’s just as important in the offensive zone.

“We need to have a better net presence, take a little abuse if necessary,” Smith added, “and do what we need to do score some more goals.”

The Rockets (3-5-0), who have played six of their first eight games this season on the road, will get a formidable dose of home cooking over the next week and a half.

Kelowna will host the Saskatoon Blades on Friday, followed by the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night. The Everett Silvertips will visit Prospera Place next Wednesday, before the Rockets close out the four-game home stint on Friday, Oct. 21 against the Tri City Americans.

“It’s an opportunity for us to get some momentum here, build up a foundation where teams come in here and find it very hard to play against us,” Smith said. “We need to make it difficult for teams to leave with a positive result and, at the same time, take advantage of our home games when we can.”

And despite his club’s relatively slow start to the season, Smith said the Rockets have all the tools to compete on a nightly basis.

They key, he said, is straightforward—working hard and sticking to the game plan.

“As much as the results haven’t been there, we’ve had stretches where we’ve done things really well,” he said. “When we get away from those things, it becomes a struggle and makes it hard to get into a flow. We need to play with the right intensity and commitment and stick to that.”

Centre Nick Merkley played in his first three games for the Rockets since returning from the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes and registered one assist on the club’s Alberta trip.

Kelowna continues to await the return of centre Dillon Dube who is sidelined two to three weeks with a knee injury.

Coughlin released…

The Rockets have released 19-year-old forward Tate Coughlin. The Victoria native, who was in his third season with the club, scored four goals and added nine assists in 107 career games.

This season, Coughlin played in four games with Kelowna.

Last week, the Rockets added 17-year-old forward Leif Mattson to the roster via a trade with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


Just Posted

Okanagan makes Top 5 of least affordable home markets list

The Okanagan is the fourth least affordable place in Canada to buy property on a single income

Stargate armour debuts at Kelowna expo

The Kelowna Fan Experience will feature Jaffa armour from Stargate SG-1

Kelowna summit will connect employers and immigrants

A session will be held tomorrow from 12 to 3 p.m. at the downtown library

Suspected overdose, poisoning calls jump in Okanagan

BCEHS statistics show calls rose last year in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon

West Kelowna resident missing

Police are concerned for the health and well-being of a 21-year-old West Kelowna man

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Senate backs bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Justin Trudeau reminded senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize pot

Vernon police search van possibly connected to bear spray incident

Police searched a yellow cube van, Thursday afternoon, at Vernon Auto Towing

Where Canadians buy real estate abroad: report

Hot Spots: Top 30 home-buying destinations for Canadians in the Americas

Bank employees save Penticton woman $6k from CRA scam

Would-be victim said she was hit while vulnerable from a family issue and initially fell for the trap

Ban on grizzly bear hunt, new rules take effect April 1

Taxidermists, tanners will have to report on any grizzly bears or parts brought to them

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Wanted North Okanagan man sought

RCMP are seeking man wanted on assault with a weapon, failing to comply with probation counts

Ontario father grief stricken over murder of ex-wife and children

‘No words to explain,’ grieving father of slain teens says in statement

Most Read