Losing back-to-back games has been a rarity for the Western Hockey League’s top team this season.
The Kelowna Rockets lost two in a row for just the second time in 2013-14, dropping a 6-5 shootout decision to the Spokane Chiefs Wednesday night at Prospera Place.
The Rockets, who fell 4-1 to Seattle on Sunday, last lost two consecutive games back on Oct. 8 and 11 against the same two teams—Seattle and Spokane.
Kelowna surrendered a 5-2 lead Wednesday, as Spokane tied the game with a three-goal third period, then claimed the victory on Jason Fram’s shootout winner.
Not surprisingly, the late collapse irked Rockets head coach Ryan Huska who was especially disappointed in the play of his team’s defence.
Spokane scored just 25 seconds into the third period to make it 5-3, stripping momentum away from the Rockets for much of the final 20 minutes.
The result ended Kelowna’s nine-game home-ice winning streak.
“We were in a good position, so it’s disappointing the way things ended up,” Huska told AM 1150 after the game. “The way we started the period by giving up a goal was unacceptable. I thought from that point on we stood around and we were on our heels, it was almost as if we were afraid to lose, and when you’re afraid to lose you watch, you don’t play the game and react the right way.
“For a lot of the night I wasn’t happy with the way our backend played, especially our four of them,” Huska continued. “They didn’t move their feet at all and they weren’t assertive in their play, and because of that we made some poor plays as the game went on.”
Ryan Olsen and Damon Severson each had a goal and two assists to lead the Kelowna offense. Colton Heffley, Kris Schmidli and Rourke Chartier also scored for the Rockets, while Jordon Cooke stopped 26 shots in the loss.
Garrett Hughson replaced Eric Williams in the Spokane net to start the third period, stopping eight shots in the third and overtime, and all six attempts in the shootout.
The league’s leading scorer, Mitch Holmberg, scored once—his 46th of the season—and added a pair of assists, while Reid Gow added a pair of goals for Spokane.
Kelowna (40-7-0-3) heads into a weekend double-header with the Kamloops Blazers as the two teams will play in Kamloops on Friday, before coming back to Prospera Place on Saturday night.