The Kelowna Rockets hit the midway mark of their Alberta mini-tour on Friday night when they visit the Medicine Hat Tigers. Face off is 6:30 Pacific time.
It’s the second of three meetings between the clubs this season. The WHL’s B.C. Division-leading Rockets (30-14-2-1) shutout the Central Division leading Tigers (25-19-5-0) 4-0 on Nov. 25 at Prospera Place.
“The (Tigers) are a quick team, they’re offensive-minded and they have one of the top offensive defenceman in the league (David Quennville),” said Rockets’ assistant coach Kris Mallette.
“They play well in their rink, so we just want to approach this one like we always do. We’ll worry about ourselves and our own preparation in making sure we’re ready to play.”
The Rockets are coming off a 4-3 overtime victory over the Hurricanes Wednesday in Lethbridge. Kole Lind scored twice, including the game winner with 27 seconds left in the extra period.
Still a month shy of his 16th birthday, rookie goaltender and Lethbridge native Cole Tisdale made 25 stops in the Kelowna net for his second WHL win.
“He was very confident, about 50 people, family and friends, came to see him and he lived up to all expectations,” Mallette said of Tisdale’s performance. “He made some big stops and had a strong game for us.”
Tisdale’s effort is the latest chapter in what has often been a trying season for Rockets’ goaltenders. Veteran Brodan Salmond, and rookies James Porter and Roman Basran have all battled injuries this season. Salmond has returned while Porter and Basran remain sidelined.
Still, through it all, the Rockets have continued to win—a credit to the entire team, according to Mallette.
“It’s made for some interesting times for sure, I think a lot of people likely counted us out with all the injuries we’ve had in goal,” he said.
“In addition to our young goalies playing well, we have a veteran group on defense, a special group we’ve asked a lot of, who have really come through for us. Our forwards deserve credit too, they’ve been doing it by committee and getting the job done.
“We’re surpassing what people thought,” he added, “it’s been great to see.”
The Rockets will close out their three-game tour of Alberta Saturday in Red Deer against the Rebels. Kelowna’s next home action is Tuesday, Jan. 30 vs the Medicine Hat Tigers.
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