Kelowna Rockets forward Cody Chikie fires a shot at Prince George goaltender Devon Fordyce in WHL action Wednesday at Prospera Place.

Rockets try to cool defending champs

Kelowna puts three-game win streak on the line against Kootenay Ice Friday at Prospera

When the opportunity came along to string together some wins against the B.C. Division’s last-place team, the Kelowna Rockets didn’t miss out.

Three straight victories over the Prince George Cougars has the Rockets back in a groove they haven’t experienced since the early weeks of the 2011-12 campaign.

Now, head coach Ryan Huska will find exactly how far his team has come on Friday night when the defending Western Hockey League champions pay a visit to Prospera Place.

The Kootenay Ice (17-5-1-2) have won the first four games of their current B.C. Division tour, and are now tied for first place overall in the WHL.

“This is a great opportunity for our guys to play the defending champs,” said Huska. “(The Ice) are a very deep team and they play hard. Our guys should be excited about it. It’s a chance to play against one of the best teams in the league and hopefully it’ll bring out the best in our guys.”

Following up on back-to-back wins in Prince George last weekend, the Rockets (9-11-2-1) stretched their winning streak to three games with a convincing 7-3 win over the Cougars on Wednesday in Kelowna. Captain Colton Sissons scored twice in a four-goal Rockets’ third period.

And while the coaching staff is happy with the current streak, Huska said the Rockets still have some work to do—particularly by the team’s veterans.

“There are segments and portions of our games that are good, but right now we need more of a team game, everybody working and playing hard for each other,” he said. “Winning is always good, it allows your group to feel good.  We’re very happy with some of our younger guys, now we have to challenge our older players. They’ve been good in spurts, but they’ve been a little inconsistent. When you look at the teams that have success, it’s the older guys who are carrying the load.”

Two players Huska praised for their solid play of late is a pair of 17-year-old forwards, Colton Heffley and Tyrell Goulbourne.

“Those two have stepped up, they’re doing a good job killing penalties, being physical and they’re moving their feet. We’ve got that consistently from them.”

The Rockets, who will host Marc Habscheid’s Victoria Royals Saturday, will be without three players for the weekend’s action—F Spencer Main (head), D Myles Bell (groin) and Jesse Lees (shoulder).