With five games remaining in the WHL’s regular season, the Kelowna Rockets would like nothing more than to be in full-fledged playoff mode.
But with a season-high five-game losing streak (0-4-1-0) gnawing at their heels, head coach Jason Smith said his club has plenty of work to do prior to round one of the post season.
“Obviously we haven’t been as good as we need to be in games and it’s about the work,” said Smith. “The work we’re going to put in in practise and the commitment to playing as a team every time we’re on the ice is going to allow us to have success.
“We have to push each other in the room and on the ice.”
The Rockets (38-22-5-2) head into the final week of the 2017-18 campaign with a three-point lead on Victoria atop the B.C. Division.
All five remaining games for the Rockets are against B.C. opponents, including a home-and-home set this weekend with the Kamloops Blazers. The teams will face off Friday in Kamloops, then again Saturday at Prospera Place.
“We know that Kamloops is a team that competes and works hard from start to finish every night,” said Smith. “We need to be better prepared and focused to match their compete level and battle level for us to win the game.”
While Smith liked much of what his Rockets did in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Giants on Wednesday night at Prospera Place, the effort still fell a little short of the coach’s expectations.
Rookie James Porter, who was solid in the Rockets’ net against Vancouver, said while the club has been struggling over the last couple of weeks, there’s no sense of panic in the team’s dressing room.
“We’re not too worried about it,” said Porter, who made 32 saves against the Giants. “All teams go through this, it’s part of the game. It’s how we react to it and we’ve just got to stay positive.”
On Saturday night against Kamloops, the Rockets will be sporting limited edition Don Cherry inspired jerseys.
The event is part of the WHL Suits up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation, presented by RE/MAX.
The jerseys will be worn for the game and then auctioned off online. All proceeds from the auctions will go to the Kidney Foundation of Canada.