Rockets stop slide with O.T. win over ‘Tips

Lucas Johansen scores power play goal at 1:04 of the extra period to end three-game WHL losing streak for Kelowna

Kelowna Rockets' rookie Nolan Foote (left) battles Everett's Noah Juulsen in WHL action Wednesday night at Prospera Place.



With just three goals scored and no points to show for their last three games, the Kelowna Rockets were in dire need of a confidence builder on Wednesday night.

It came in the form of Lucas Johansen’s power play goal at 1:04 overtime, as the Rockets ended a three-game WHL slide with a 4-3 win over the Everett Silvertips at Prospera Place.

And although it was far from a picture-perfect effort for the first 60 minutes, head coach Jason Smith said it was an important win for his club.

“Obviously it was great (to get the win),” Smith said. “We started the game well, but then we kind of got away from playing the way we did in the first period and they got back in the game and had momentum. But it’s nice to leave the building with a win, for sure.”

The Rockets started quickly, with captain Rodney Southam and Devante Stephens scoring goals within the first eight minutes of the game, chasing starter Carter Hart from the Everett goal.

With Kelowna leading 2-1 in the second period, rookie Nolan Foote connected for his first WHL goal, taking a pass from his older brother, Cal, skating in alone, and beating Tips goalie Mario Petit with quick wrister from the face-off circle.

Foote, who fell victim to the traditional shaving cream plaster to the face during a post-game interview, was happy to connect for his first major junior goal and get help from his brother in the process.

“The first goal, it was one to remember for sure,” said Foote, while wiping shaving cream from his face and stinging eyes. “That was just an unbelievable moment and it was good to have the assist from (Cal).”

But Everett kept coming and Kelowna’s 3-1 lead soon evaporated. Two third-period goals by Riley Sutter, the second at 18:52 with the Everett net empty, tied the game to force overtime.

In the extra session, with Kevin Davis off for tripping, Johansen took a pass from Nick Merkley and blasted past Petit for the game winner and his first goal of the season.

For Jason Smith, the win was both a relief and a step in the right direction.

“Anytime things don’t go well for your team, you know there’s stress and tension but we’ve done a pretty good job of trying to keep the guys loose, we have a good group of guys in the room that have talked about pushing through and paying attention to the detail,” said Smith. “It was a good start, we still need to work on playing 60 minutes, but we’ll take the win and look forward to the next one.”

The Rockets (4-7-0) will close out a four-game homestand Friday against the Tri-City Americans.