January 3, 2018 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Kelowna Rockets
The Kelowna Rockets get ready to host the Tri-City Americans on Wednesday night for the first Hat-Trick Wednesday at Prospera Place of 2018.
Having won their last five games, including three against divisional rivals, Assistant Coach Travis Crickard says the teams tenacity and work ethic have played big factors in their recent success.
"Number one, we play well when the players adhere to the game plan and when they never finish on a shift. For instance if our guy goes in on a forecheck and the other team breaks the puck out, our guy isn't done his job yet. That player has to start tracking the puck hard so we can get it back. Same thing goes for the defensive zone, If we're in the D-zone we play hard so we're able to get the puck back. That's the biggest thing," Crickard said. "Number two is that guys are supporting each other, that helps a lot. And number three is that guys are invested enough in the game, and are focused enough on what they have to do that they're able to make the adjustments that we as coaches ask them to make."
The Rockets and Americans have met three times already this season. On October 17th Kelowna fell 2-1 in Tri-City, but the two met again Kelowna 10 days later, and the Rockets edged the Ams 4-3 in OT. Their third and most recent meeting came just five days after the second meeting on November 1st, and Tri-City squeaked out their own 4-3 overtime win. This is the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between these two clubs.
Kelowna enters Wednesday night with a record of 23-11-2-1 that gives them 49 points. That's good enough for first place in the B.C. Division, three points ahead of the second place Victoria Royals, and four ahead of the third place Vancouver Giants. The Rockets currently sit in first place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the second place Everett Silvertips, and two ahead of the Portland Winterhawks.
Tri-City comes into the game on Wednesday with a 20-10-5-0 record giving them 45 points and placing them third in the U.S. Division, two back of the Portland Winterhawks, and two ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. The Americans currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference.
Kelowna will be without Rockets Captain Cal Foote and Rockets Assistant Captain Dillon Dube as they are in Buffalo, NY taking part in the World Junior Championships for Team Canada. With Dube captaining the squad, they are competing in the semifinal on Thursday after defeating Switzerland 8-2 in the quarterfinal on Tuesday afternoon. Dube scored his second power play goal of the tournament in that contest. Team Canada clinched first place in their group in round robin play.
It's Hat-Trick Wednesday at Prospera Place which means if you purchase your ticket before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, $19.99 gets you a hot dog, pop, and your ticket to the game!
Kelowna is back in action following Wednesday night when they host the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday, January 5th. Puck drop for Wednesday and Friday are both at 7:05pm.
Tickets are available for Rockets home games through selectyourtickets.com, at the Prospera Place box office or by phone at 250-762-5050.
Images from this story
Rockets Clash with Americans at Prospera Place