Two of the Western Hockey League’s hottest teams are on a collision course and something has to give.
The Kelowna Rockets—winners of nine in a row—will travel to Everett Wednesday night to take on the Silvertips, winners of 15 of their last 17 games.
“It’s definitely going to be a good test for us,” said Rockets forward Brandon McMillan. “Both teams have been on a pretty good roll. Everett is a better team than some of the teams we’ve been playing lately, so we’ll find out where we’re at. We just need to go in there and try put in a good effort.”
With nine straight wins, the Rockets (28-25-2-2) are enjoying the club’s longest streak of prosperity in five years.
Still, only one of those victories has come against a team in the top 15 of the WHL’s overall standings—the Medicine Hat Tigers. The other eight have come at the expense of clubs with losing records: Prince George, Seattle, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Chilliwack.
It’s a big reason the Rockets consider Everett (34-18-2-1) as an ideal measuring stick of their true progress over the last month.
So does Kelowna approach the ‘Tips differently than any of their recent opponents ?
“I don’t think we’ll change much,” said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. “We just have to be committed to keeping our game simple. If we don’t have everybody going and pulling in the same direction, then we’ll make it tough on ourselves.
“We want to limit our turnovers,” Huska continued, “get pucks in deep and get as many hits on their back end as we can. If we do that, we give ourselves a good chance.”
The Rockets and goalie Adam Brown are coming off a 1-0 shutout of the Bruins Saturday in Chilliwack.
After a pair of lackluster performances against the Eastern Conference’s bottom dwellers—5-4 over Edmonton and 3-2 over Lethbridge—the coaching staff was encouraged by the Rockets latest effort.
“It was an important game in Chilliwack,” Huska said. “The guys were answering a bit of a test from us. They didn’t create a lot of problems for themselves. We would have liked more than one goal, but overall we were happy with the effort.”
Rocket Shots…The Rockets will play the Blazers in a home-and-home set this weekend, Friday in Kamloops and Saturday in Kelowna…Veteran D Dallas Jackson remains sidelined on a day-to-day basis with a leg injury.