In 49 games last season, Riley Stadel scored just twice for the Kelowna Rockets.
On Wednesday night, it took the 17-year-old blue liner less than 27 minutes to eclipse that total.
Stadel scored a hat trick an added an assist, and Jordon Cooke earned his first shutout of the season as the Rockets routed the Lethbridge Hurricanes 6-0 in WHL action at Prospera Place.
Stadel, a 5-foot-10, 162-pound product of Surrey, now leads all Rockets with seven goals on the season.
“Hockey right now is fun for him, he’s enjoying himself,” Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said of Stadel. “He’s doing a good job of getting his shots through, he’s got a little bit of heat on that shot now so he’s finding the back of the net. On his third goal, it was a great power play, they moved the puck around well and Riley did a great job of finishing off for his hat trick, so we’re excited for him.”
Rookie Nick Merkley added four assists to help Kelowna (6-1-0-2) end a short-lived two-game losing streak. Merkley, 16, and Tyson Baillie share the team scoring lead with 13 points apiece.
Stadel opened the scoring at 1:42 of the first, then added power play markers at 14:05 of the opening period and 6:35 of the second frame.
Ryan Olsen added a goal and three assists, while Baillie and Tyrell Goulbourne also scored for the Rockets who outshot the struggling Hurricances 62-26.
After disappointing back-to-back losses, Huska felt it was a much-improved effort by his club.
“Five-on-five, I liked our game, I thought we had a lot of grit and pushback,” Huska said. “One of the areas we challenged our players on was to be better in their puck battles, winning their one-on-ones and I thought it was much different. What I’m most excited about is I saw some physical play out of our back end.”
If not for the play of Corbin Boes, the score may have been even more lopsided as the 20-year-old Hurricanes stopper made 56 saves.
Lethbridge has lost seven straight games to slip to 1-9-0-1 on the season.
Defenceman Mitchell Wheaton played his first game of 2013-14 for the Rockets since undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season.
The Rockets return to action Saturday when they play host to the Prince George Cougars,
Face off is 7:05 p.m.