With the playoffs beckoning, it’s far from the quality of hockey Dan Lambert both wants and expects from his Kelowna Rockets.
Lane Pedersen scored at 3:06 of overtime Wednesday night as the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds slipped past the Western Conference leaders 3-2 at Prospera Place.
It was the Rockets’ (51-13-5-1) third defeat in the last four games.
While Kelowna was fresh off a three-day break, the Thunderbirds were playing their fourth game in six nights, including the previous night at home to Tri-City.
The Rockets’ head coach was less than pleased with his team’s mostly listless effort, particularly from a number of the club’s veteran players.
“Very disappointing,” Lambert said of Kelowna’s overall performance. “In a game like this where that is a tired hockey team that got in at five in the morning, and to think that we had many, many passengers where in a sense you have to go down to nine forwards because we have guys that refuse to show up.
“I’m not talking about (rookie) Kole Lind, I’m talking about guys much older and experienced and this is the effort we get from them…very disappointing.”
Rourke Chartier, with his team-leading 48th goal of the season, and rookie Dillon Dube scored for the Rockets, who have two games remaining in the regular season, both against the Vancouver Giants.
If his club was sneaking a look ahead to the post-season on Wednesday night, Lambert said the Rockets are in for a rude awakening.
“The last time I checked the season was 72 games, not 70, not 69 and not 60,” said Lambert. “And if we think it’s a switch and we’ll just turn it on and all of a sudden come Friday things will be great, we’ve got another thing coming.”
Kelowna is three points back of the Brandon Wheat Kings (111 to 108) for the WHL’s overall lead heading into the final weekend.
The Rockets will be in Vancouver Friday, before wrapping up the regular campaign Saturday at home to the Giants.