For nearly 53 minutes, it looked like the Kelowna Rockets may again be stymied by a spectacular goaltending performance.
But when all was said and done, the defending WHL champs found a way to overcome Ty Edmonds and the Prince George Cougars with a 3-2 shootout victory Wednesday night at Prospera Place.
Tomas Soustal delivered the winning goal in the shootout, while Michael Herringer denied all three Cougars shooters he faced as the Rockets ended a two-game slide with their 45th win of the season.
The Rockets were coming off a pair of 3-2 losses to the Blazers on the weekend, with Kamloops goaltender Connor Ingram stealing the show.
On Wednesday, Edmonds kept the Rockets at bay through two scoreless periods, paving the way for the Cougars to break the deadlock on a goal by Jesse Harkins at 8:44 of the third.
But the Rockets finally solved Edmonds with a pair of power play goals by Tyson Baillie (39th) and Cole Linaker, just over two minutes apart—at 12:55 and 14:57.
Chase Witala scored his 40th goal with just over three minutes left to force overtime, setting the stage for Soustal’s shootout winner.
Coming off a disappointing weekend, Linaker said the hard-fought win was just what the Rockets needed.
“It was definitely good, just for the morale of the guys,” said Linaker. “We’re a good team and we have to play with a good-team swagger. To get that win, it puts a little fire behind us again and we’re going to be going for the weekend.”
“It was a strong game by our guys, they worked hard,” added head coach Brad Ralph said. “I thought everyone competed hard for us tonight.
“It’s good for our confidence,” he added. “Hopefully we can build off this for the weekend.”
With the win, the Rockets (45-18-3-3) pull to within three points of the Victoria Royals for first place overall in the WHL. With six games remaining, the Rockets have a game in hand on Victoria.
This weekend, Kelowna will play three games in three nights—home to Kamloops on Friday, followed by visits to Spokane on Saturday and Tri-City on Sunday.