The Kelowna Rockets had their two game winning streak snapped Friday night with a 4-3 loss to division opponents Victoria Royals. The Rockets played from behind and had to fight back as they found themselves down 2-0 within the first four minutes as the Royals struck first and fast.
“We had a slow start, but our players played hard. We had to chase the scoreboard,” said head coach Adam Foote. “We made a lot of great things happen, and I like how we played other than the first 10 (minutes.)”
The Rockets came out with pace in the first two minutes, but the Royals were quick to control the puck. With some fine passing, the Royals got on the board with a point shot that beat Rockets goalie James Porter. Just 10 seconds later, the Royals’ Tanner Sidaway picked off a Rockets pass, glided in and slapped one top-shelf and glove side.
It was pretty quiet at Prospera Place with the Rockets down 2-0, four minutes into the game.
The Rockets top line of Nolan Foote, Leif Mattson, and Kyle Topping sparked their team with gaining the momentum back with hard consistent shifts. Nolan Foote would get the Rockets within one after a nice take to the net from Topping that rebounded and bounced into the air, where Foote struck it out of the air to sneak the puck by Royals veteran goalie Griffen Outhouse.
“It wasn’t the start we were looking for, but we showed some fight and coming back, and make a game out of it,” said Topping. “We’re going to have to pick it up against B.C. division opponents for the rest of the year.”
The top line was leading the way for the Rockets as Foote, Mattson, and Topping finished with a combined 6 points, as the young players need to help out a bit more.
“You can feel it coming. You can feel them getting confidence, they’re making plays. We’re missing some execution, but it’s coming,” said Foote.
Victoria had lost six of their last seven games coming into Friday’s game, but the Royals scored early in the second on the power play to get another two goal lead over the Rockets. The Rockets, who recently beat the top two teams in the league, pushed back well, but couldn’t generate shots good enough to beat Outhouse. The Rockets trailed 3-1 going into the third.
The hits had started coming in the second as the rivalry of the two teams came into focus, with the Rockets showing some backbone. The Rockets were able to cut the lead to 3-2 after Lassi Thomson made a sweet move at the point to get clear and beat Outhouse glove-side and top shelf. The push was stifled once again, as the Royals cut the lead back to two only a few minutes later as Porter had lost sight of the puck and the Royals secured a 4-2 lead. The Rockets again showed push back when Nolan Foote scored his 24th of the season to get the Rockets within one. The comeback would be nonexistent as the Royals held off a late Rockets push to win their second game in seven games.
The Rockets return to action Saturday night against another division rival, the Vancouver Giants. The Rockets hold on to third in the B.C. division, but need points, especially against divisional opponents, in order to secure the best playoff spot.
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