For a period, it looked like the Kelowna Rockets just might threaten the Victoria Royals’ unbeaten start to the Western Hockey League season.
Then the B.C. Division leaders took over.
The Royals (5-0-0-0) erupted for six unanswered goals in the second period en route to an 8-3 thrashing of the Rockets (2-1-0-1) Wednesday night in WHL action at Prospera Place.
Victoria’s team speed, combined with Kelowna’s penchant for taking undisciplined penalties, was the Rockets’ undoing in front of a hometown audience of 4,461.
Kelowna head coach Jason Smith didn’t pull too many punches in assessing his team’s effort.
“It’s no good,” Smith said. “As a group, our guys lost composure, became undisciplined and they played as individuals and not as a team.
“There’s not many teams that have success in sports where you have a whole bunch of guys going in different directions, not playing for the crest on the front.”
After Dillon Dube and Kole Lind spotted the Rockets to a 2-0 first-period lead, the Royals ran away in the second period, scoring an even half dozen, including twice on the power play.
Brodan Salmond yielded five goals on 15 shots in the Rockets net and was replaced by James Porter late in the second period.
Regan Nagy netted a hat trick for Victoria, while his skilled, diminutive linemate, Matthew Phillips, picked up three assists.
While Smith conceded the Royals’ quickness was a factor, he said his club simply had too many flaws in its game to compete.
“They’ve got a quick team, we made some errors with the puck and put ourselves in tough situations where guys were in between and it ended up in our net,” he said. “We made some bad decisions taking penalties, gave them power play time. The game is about spending time in the O-zone and wearing teams down, and when you spend too much time defending you get worn down and can’t do much in the other end.”
Rockets defenceman Gordie Ballhorn:
Dube and Lind, the club’s top forwards, both sat down for the third period as Smith gave his younger players a chance to get some experience and set an example.
“That’s what learning is about, learning from mistakes,” said Smith. “You know in a game like that when a game is out of hand, you give some opportunity for some younger guys to play to grow their game a little bit. They competed, played hard and played for the team and that’s what you want.”
Connor Bruggen-Cate scored the Rockets’ final goal in the third period, his first of the season.
Overage forward Carsen Twarynski returned to the Rockets lineup and picked up an assist on Dube’s goal at 1:42 of th first.
The Rockets will look to regroup this weekend when they travel to Prince George to take on the Cougars Friday and Saturday.