Without four of their top players in the lineup, the Kelowna Rockets still found a way to push one of the WHL’s top teams to the limit.
When all was said and done, the hometown Medicine Hat Tigers prevailed 8-7 in overtime Tuesday night, handing the Rockets (19-12-2-0) their second straight loss.
Ty Schultz beat Brodan Salmond at 2:09 of the extra period to boost the Tigers to victory in a 15-goal offensive slugfest.
The Rockets were without forwards Nick Merkley, Dillon Dube, Calvin Thurkauf and Tomas Soustal, all of whom were at their respective country’s pre-tournament camps in preparation for the world junior hockey championship.
Merkley was released Tuesday by the Canadian junior team and will rejoin the Rockets Friday in Red Deer.
Braydyn Chizen’s second goal of the season at 14:14 of the third period forced overtime, as the Rockets overcame 4-1 and 6-4 deficits against the Tigers.
Jake Kryski led the Rockets with two goals and a pair of assists, while Kole Lind added a goal and three assists.
Michael Herringer, who gave up six goals on 21 shots, was replaced in the Rockets net by Salmond early in the third period.
Medicine Hat (23-10-1-0) outshot the Rockets 35-34.
Kelowna will visit the Red Deer Rebels Friday and the Calgary Hitmen Saturday, before wrapping up their seven-game road trip Sunday in Edmonton.