With six key forwards absent from the lineup, the Kelowna Rockets only had so much to give.
In the end, the effort was good enough to earn a point as the Everett Silvertips edged the Rockets 2-1 in overtime in WHL action Wednesday night at Prospera Place.
Dawson Leedahl scored the game winner on a rebound at 1:27 of the 3-on-3 overtime session, ending Kelowna’s home-ice winning streak at nine games.
The short-staffed Rockets held their own through two periods, but began to show fatigue in the third as the Silvertips outshot Kelowna 20-7 over the last 20 minutes.
Only the play of goalie Jackson Whistle, who made 34 saves, kept the game tied through regulation.
Under the circumstances, Rockets head coach Brad Ralph was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I was proud, I thought our guys gave everything we had,” Ralph said. “We came up a little short but I think we can rest easy. We came prepared, the guys worked every shift as hard as they could. It was a big point for us to get.”
The Rockets were without Rourke Chartier, Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf, all of whom are at the world junior championship in Finland. Justin Kirkland and Riley Stadel were both sitting out suspensions, while Rodney Southam is sidelined with a lower body injury.
Whistle said as difficult as it’s been playing with an abbreviated roster, it should benefit the Rockets in the long run.
“I think it’s good, especially for some of the younger guys,” said Whistle. “I think it lets them feel a part of the team a little more by playing more minutes and contributing more than they normally would. They’ll be pushing those guys when they come back and we’ll be a good team.”
Dillon Dube, with his 15th of the season, opened the scoring for the Rockets at 11:45 of the second period.
Graham Miller’s eighth of the season, just 25 seconds later, was the only other goal of regulation.
The ‘Tips outshot Kelowna 36-25.
The Rockets (27-9-2-0), who are in the midst of playing five games in seven nights, will travel to Everett to play the Silvertips on New Year’s day.
On Saturday, the Rockets will host the Victoria Royals. Face off at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.