With the return to health of two veteran forwards this week, competition for ice time with the Kelowna Rockets just got that much stiffer.
Over-age winger J.T. Barnett is back after missing the last 21 games with a lower body injury, while Carter Rigby has returned from an 14-game absence due to a shoulder injury.
The Rockets now have four extra forwards on the roster.
“Quite a few guys have played pretty well for us, so it’s going to be difficult having to take certain guys out,” said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. “But it’s a good problem to have. It’s going to create some good competition and guys are going to have to work to stay in the lineup.”
Barnett and Rigby are set to rejoin the Rockets this weekend as Kelowna plays host to a pair of Eastern Division opponents. The Regina Pats will visit Prospera Place on Friday, while ex-Rocket Shane McColgan and the Saskatoon Blades come calling on Saturday.
The Rockets (12-8-1-1), who have won six straight games at Prospera, will be trying to rebound from a pair of losses over the weekend in Kennewick, Wash.
Despite outplaying and outshooting (87-47) the Tri-City Americans, the Rockets fell short both Friday and Saturday, losing each time by a 3-2 score.
“I felt like their goaltender (Eric Comrie) was the difference,” said Huska. “Overall I was pleased with our effort, I thought we controlled a lot of the play.
“On the other hand, you can’t let a goalie beat you like that on back-to-back nights. It’s frustrating, so we need to find ways to make things more difficult on opposing goalies.”