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Preview: Rockets At Blazers

December 3, 2021 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Kelowna Rockets News Release


Kelowna Rockets right wing Jake Poole (left) vs. the Kamloops Blazers
Kelowna Rockets right wing Jake Poole (left) vs. the Kamloops Blazers
(Kelowna Rockets, Credit: Steve Dunsmoor)

The Kelowna Rockets will have a tall task on Saturday night when they kick off a three-game road trip against the second-ranked major junior hockey team in Canada, the Kamloops Blazers.

Kamloops leapfrogged the Everett Silvertips to move up from third to second in this week's Kia CHL Top 10 on Wednesday.

The Blazers were last in action on the road last Saturday against the Silvertips, handing the 'tips their first loss in regulation with a 3-2 victory. As of Friday afternoon, the Silvertips sit atop the Western Conference Standings - two points in front of the Blazers - with a record of 17-1-1-1 and 36 points, having played one more game than Kamloops.

They'll face the Vancouver Giants on Friday night in Langley before returning home to host the Rockets.

The Rockets will be looking to bounce back from a 5-3 loss to the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday at Prospera Place. It was the first loss in regulation on home ice for Kelowna this season, the Rockets are now 7-1-0-1 at Prospera Place through nine games this season.

Kelowna peppered Vegas Golden Knight prospect Jesper Vikman with 41 shots; Mark Liwiski, Colton Dach and Pavel Novak were the three Rockets to beat the Swede. Talyn Boyko made the start for the Rockets, stopping 19 of the 24 shots fired his way.

The Rockets will welcome back head coach Kris Mallette, forward Andrew Cristall and defenceman Caden Price. The trio were away at Hockey Canada's Capital City Challenge. Price and Canada Black defeated Kris Mallette's Canada Red 5-4 in overtime to claim gold. Cristall and Canada White downed the Canadian Women's National Team 6-1.

Winger Rilen Kovacevic will be eligible to play in Saturday's game after serving a one-game suspension.

Kamloops Blazers (17-2-0-0 - 34 points)

1st B.C. Division

Power Play: 22/89 - 24.7%

Penalty Kill: 51/62 - 82.3%

Last Ten: 9-1-0-0 Streak: 6-0-0-0

GF: 91 GA: 37

PIM: 194

Kelowna Rockets (10-6-0-2 -22 points)

3rd B.C. Division

Power Play: 14/59 - 23.7%

Penalty Kill: 52/67 - 77.6%

Last Ten: 6-3-0-1 Streak: 0-1-0-0

GF: 63 GA: 60

PIM: 220

stats and records as of Friday afternoon

THE LAST TIME THESE TWO MET

The Blazers and Rockets have squared off twice so far this season, with both meetings taking place at Prospera Place. The Rockets are the only team to have defeated Kamloops in regulation this season, doing it twice: 4-2 on October 15th and 3-2 on November 10th.

In the November 10th meeting, Kamloops jumped out to a 1-0 lead 37 seconds into the game thanks to Daylan Kuefler. Mark Liwiski responded for the Rockets in the final minute of the first, Colton Dach then push Kelowna ahead early in the second. While still in the middle frame Josh Pillar and Nolan Flamand traded goals. The Rockets were able to hold off a Blazers third-period comeback. Talyn Boyko made the star for Kelowna, making 27 saves.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Kelowna:

After being held off the scoresheet the last five games, overage winger Mark Liwiski scored the opening goal of the game against the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night. The 6'1, 193-pound winger has nine points (4G, 5A) through 17 games this season.

Czech product Gabriel Szturc is starting to find his footing after adjusting to the North American game. He's posted three points over his last two games, including two assists against the Giants on Wednesday.

Kamloops

The Rockets have faced netminder Dylan Garand in both games this season. The New York Ranger prospect was named to Canada's 2021 National Junior Team Selection Camp earlier this week. He has appeared in 16 games this season, posting a record of 14-2-0-0, 1.76 GAA and .935 SAV%.

Dallas Star prospect Logan Stankoven was also invited to Canada's 2021 National Junior Team Selection Camp. The Blazer co-captain has posted 29 points (12G, 17A), 4 penalty minutes and a +16 plus/minus rating over 19 games this season.

B.C. DIVISION STANDINGS

# Team GP W L OTL SOL PTS

1 Kamloops Blazers 19 17 2 0 0 34

2 Vancouver Giants 19 11 7 1 0 23

3 Kelowna Rockets 18 10 6 0 2 22

4 Prince George Cougars 20 7 13 0 0 14

5 Victoria Royals 18 4 11 3 0 11

as of Thursday afternoon

SEASON SERIES

Oct. 15 vs Kamloops 4-2 W

Nov. 10 vs Kamloops 3-2 W

Dec. 4 @ Kamloops 7:00 PM

Dec. 18 vs Kamloops 7:05 PM

Dec. 28 @ Kamloops 7:00 PM

Dec. 29 vs Kamloops 7:05 PM

Feb. 25 vs Kamloops 7:05 PM

Feb. 26 @ Kamloops 7:00 PM

Mar. 11 @ Kamloops 7:00 PM

Mar. 12 vs Kamloops 7:05 PM

Mar. 18 vs Kamloops 7:05 PM

Mar. 19 @ Kamloops 7:05 PM

Mar. 25 @ Kamloops 7:00 PM

Mar. 26 vs Kamloops 7:05 PM

WATCH AND LISTEN

You can watch all Rockets games on WHL Live on CHL TV. More are details available by visiting watch.CHL.ca. You can also listen to the game on AM1550.

Mini Packs for the 2021-22 season are on sale now, get yours today in a six or twelve game pack.





Images from this story

Kelowna Rockets right wing Jake Poole (left) vs. the Kamloops Blazers
Kelowna Rockets right wing Jake Poole (left) vs. the Kamloops Blazers

(Steve Dunsmoor)
  

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