Libor Zabransky #7 of the Kelowna Rockets passes the puck against the Kamloops Blazers on Dece. 27, 2017 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)

Rockets lose first game of new year in shootout

The Prince George Cougars squeaked out a 2-1 win

The Kelowna Rockets started the new year off with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets held a 1-0 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining before the Cougars tied it up on the power-play. Friday night’s game was a slower change of pace for the Rockets compared to their last few games, but the Rockets were unable to squeeze out more than one point in the shootout loss.

With a match-up against Kamloops coming Saturday night, head coach Adam Foote says they’ll need to move on from this loss quickly.

“Yeah, we’ve got to park this, and move forward and be ready for Kamloops,” said Foote. “They’re going to be hungry at home as well when we get there. It’s a rival, and those games are (tough). We’ll have no choice but to be ready, because they’ll be ready for us.”

With a 5-5 record in December, the Rockets would have loved to have started 2019 off on the right skate. The first period saw the Rockets shake off some shaky play before getting back into their groove. The Cougars, who went 2-8 in December, out shot the Rockets in the first frame and were given back to back power-plays early in the period, but Rockets goalie James Porter stood tall, starting in his 16th game this season. The Rockets were inconsistent with their possession and offence and the period ended at zeroes.

RELATED: West Kelowna Warriors lose first game of 2019 to Vernon

The Cougars came out with pace to start the second period, but it was James Porter who would shine; turning away all 10 Cougars shots. On the other end, Cougars goalie Taylor Gauthier was also keeping his team in the game making a few great saves during the Rockets first power-play of the game. The Rockets would sneak one by Gauthier at the very beginning of their second power play as Conner Bruggen-Cate took advantage of the Cougars defence’s inability to clear the zone and put one past an unsuspecting Gauthier. Both teams turned up the volume after the first goal as the pace, hits, and checking increased; Cougars trying to tie the game, and the Rockets trying to keep the momentum on their side. Kelowna would go into the third period with a 1-0 lead.

It was all Cougars in the third period, as the Rockets only generated one shot on net. James Porter continued to stand tall, turning away shot after shot. The Cougars were relentless with the aggression and were able to draw a penalty to give them their fifth power play of the game. The Cougars would tie the game up almost halfway through the period finally breaking past Porter to tie the game at 1-1 before the period’s end.

Though the Rockets dominated overtime, the game would go to shootout. Nolan Foote would score for the Rockets but it wouldn’t be enough as the Rockets would loose the shootout to drop to 17-17-4 in the season.

The Rockets will take on Kamloops Blazers Saturday night. The two teams went 1-1 in back-to-back games on Dec. 28-29. With the playoffs drawing more near, points against division rivals, even only one point, will become more and more crucial.

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