It took the Kelowna Rockets nearly 45 minutes to get their first lead of the night.
Once they did, it was game over for the Tri-City Americans.
Rourke Chartier notched the game winner at 4:40 of the third period and Tyson Baillie added an insurance goal seven minutes later, as the Rockets downed the Ams 4-2 Friday night in WHL action at Prospera Place.
The Rockets, who trailed 1-0 and 2-1 before taking over midway in the second period, were on their heels early in the game and took three penalties in the first period.
Head coach Brad Ralph was happy to see his team kick its game into gear over the final 40 minutes.
“I think it all stems from skating, we got out skated in the first period and when that happens, you’re going to take penalties,” Ralph said. “It was good to see our guys stay disciplined in the second and third when we needed them to.
“We had some guys make some big plays and put the puck in the net,” he added, “…we responded well.”
Parker Bowles put the Ams on the board at 13:43 of the first, before Calvin Thurkauf’s power play goal tied the game early in the second.
After Michael Rasmussen put Tri-City ahead 2-1 at 7:45 of the second, forward Rodney Southam celebrated his return to the Rockets lineup with his sixth of the season at 15:24 to even the score at two.
Southam had missed the team’s last 12 games with injury, after blocking a shot Dec. 16 in Moose Jaw.
“When you’ve been out that long you just dream about being back on the ice, I was pretty sick of those stands up there,” Southam said. “I had a lot of energy saved up.”
Nick Merkley had a pair of assists, including one on the game winner, as Chartier beat Americans netminder Evan Sarthou high to the stick side off a 2-on-1.
Baillie put the game on ice after blocking a Parker Bowles shot at the Kelowna blue line, then racing in alone to beat Sarthou between the pads for his team-leading 27th of the season.
Michael Herringer, making his eighth straight start for the Rockets was solid in goal, particularly in the third period, where he made 16 saves.
“I thought he was good right from the start,” Ralph said. “On the penalty kill, your goalie has to be your best penalty killer and he made some saves to keep that game close early. I think he’s finding his stride, it’s good to see.”
The Rockets (32-11-3-0) are back home Saturday night for the third game in a five-game home stand as they play host to the Medicine Hat Tigers.