Divisional Battle Set to Heat up as the Rockets Host the Giants
The Kelowna Rockets prepare to host a B.C. Division rival in the Vancouver Giants at Prospera Place on Wednesday.
The Rockets are looking to bounce back after dropping their last two games to the U.S. Division leading Everett Silvertips last weekend. With the top three teams in the B.C. Division separated by only four points, and with both the Rockets and Giants included in that top three, Wednesday night is important for both squads. Rockets Assistant Coach Kris Mallette says the importance of divisional match-ups isn't lost on the team.
"Any divisional game is big for us down the stretch," said Mallette. "We play quite a few over the next month. First and foremost, our team needs to get back to playing hockey the way we were leading into last weekend's setback. Vancouver and Victoria have been playing some really good hockey lately but the divisional games are the biggest of the year. We've got to prepare and be ready to go."
Wednesday marks the fifth of eight meetings between the Rockets and Giants this season. So far, the teams have split the season series. The two teams first met on November 10th in Kelowna. Carsen Twarynski led the way in that one when he potted the overtime winner to secure the 5-4 win for the Rockets. The teams met again just over a week later on November 18th at the Langley Events Centre, but this time it was all Vancouver. Giants captain Tyler Benson racked up 2 goals and an assist to lead his team, while Rockets rookie Marek Skvrne scored his first ever WHL goal in the 6-1 defeat. The Rockets traveled to Vancouver again on November 24th when Kelowna goaltender James Porter made 30 saves in a 3-2 win. The Giants evened up the season series in the teams last contest on January 13th. Vancouver took a 2-1 lead into the third period of that game before Rockets forward Leif Mattson tied things up with his 14th of the season early in the final frame. The Giants took the lead back just a few minutes later and held on for a 3-2 victory. The two rivals have three games left against each other this season following Wednesday night. Vancouver will make their third trip to Kelowna on March 7th. Finally, the teams will play a two game home-and-home set on the last weekend of the WHL schedule starting in Vancouver on March 16th and ending in Kelowna on the 17th.
The Rockets enter Wednesday's game with a record of 32-16-3-1 giving them 68 points and tying them with the Victoria Royals for first place in the B.C. Division, but the Rockets have two games in hand on the Royals. Vancouver sits in third in the division coming into the game on Wednesday night with a 28-16-5-3 record, giving them 64 points with the same number of games played as Kelowna.
The Rockets are second in the Western Conference, only three points back of the first place Everett Silvertips.
Puck drop on Wednesday is at 7:05pm.
The Rockets will then prepare to face another divisional opponent in the Victoria Royals in back-t0-back-to-back meetings. First Kelowna will head to Victoria for games against the Royals on Friday and Saturday night before they close out the Family Day weekend with an afternoon game against the Royals at Prospera Place in Kelowna on Monday, February 12th. Puck drop for Monday is at 2:05pm.
Tickets are available for Rockets home games through selectyourtickets.com, at the Prospera Place box office or by phone at 250-762-5050.
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Kelowna Rockets vs. the Vancouver Giants
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