Prior to Wednesday night’s game at Prospera Place, the Kelowna Rockets honoured Cal Foote for his gold medal win with Team Canada at the world junior hockey championship.
Foote, playing his first game in a month with the WHL club, showed his gratitude by leading the Rockets to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs.
The game’s first star, the Kelowna captain scored a goal, was a physical force and a steadying influence from start to finish as Rockets won for the 14th time in the last 15 games on home ice.
“He’s a great player, he’s an anchor on our back end,” Rockets head coach Jason Smith said of Foote. “He plays, competes and has poise and does a lot of things right all the time. He’s got composure, he defends against the best players in the league and also creates offense for us.”
Kyle Topping paced the Kelowna offense with two goals and an assist, while rookie blueliner Kaedan Korczak, with his first WHL goal, Nolan Foote, Braydyn Chizen and Kole Lind also scored for the Western Conference-leading Rockets (26-12-2-1).
James Porter stopped 23 of 27 shots in the Rockets’ net in relief of Roman Basran. The 16-year-old rookie netminder left the game six minutes into the opening period after suffering an undisclosed injury.
Foote and Rockets’ teammate Dillon Dube helped Canada to gold last week at the world junior hockey championship in Buffalo. Dube, the captain for Team Canada, is battling a bout of the flu and was unable to be part of the ceremony or game on Wednesday.
The Rockets return to action Friday when they visit the Seattle Thunderbirds.
On Saturday, Kelowna will be in Vancouver to take on the B.C. rival Giants.