Rockets tangle with ‘Tips for conference lead

Kelowna leads Everett by one point in the Western Conference as teams play home-and-home set

With little on the line—other than two points—the Kelowna Rockets and Everett Silvertips last met on the second weekend of the Western Hockey League’s regular season.

The plot has thickened considerably since the two cross-border rivals first battled back on Friday, Sept. 29 at Prospera Place.

With top spot overall the Western Conference hanging in the balance, the Rockets and Silvertips will go toe-to-toe this weekend in a home-and-home set.

The clubs will battle Friday night at Prospera Place, before heading south for a rematch Saturday at the XFINITY Arena in Everett, Wash.

The Rockets (32-14-3-1) lead Everett (32-17-1-2) by a single point for top spot overall in the conference.

“It’s a big weekend,” said Kelowna Rockets head coach Jason Smith. “Everett’s put together a real good stretch, they’re playing really well. We’ll get focused and ready to play.

“Obviously we’re more worried about the Friday night game, we get another opportunity to play against a real good team. Great opportunity for our group to see where we’re at and test the waters.”

Prior to a 3-0 loss Wednesday to the Portland Winterhawks, the Silvertips—led by world junior gold medal stopper Carter Hart— had been the WHL’s hottest team, going 9-0-0-1 in the previous 10 games.

The Rockets have been putting up some solid numbers of their own, posting an 8-2-1-0 mark in the last 11 games.

“When you look at their record, they’re a team that’s made great strides,” Smith said of Everett.

“I think we’re a team that’s playing well, too and competing, so it should be a good matchup and a good challenge for us.”

The Rockets have won 17 of their last 18 games at home, the latest a 5-2 victory Tuesday over the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Captain Cal Foote had a goal and two assists in the win, as the Rockets were coming off a three-game road trip to Alberta where they earned five of a possible six points.

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