A true test
The Kelowna Rockets get set to take on the Everett Silvertips on Friday night at Prospera Place in Kelowna before heading south to the XFINITY Arena in Everett for a rematch the following evening.
Following a 5-2 victory over the Central Division leading Medicine Hat Tigers, the Rockets prepare to face another division leader in the Everett Silvertips. Having dealt with their fair share of injuries and setbacks in their lineup already this season and coming up against arguably the toughest opponent in the Western Conference, Rockets Assistant Coach Travis Crickard says Friday night will be a good test.
"We're approaching this game with the mindset that it's good for our team to face this team and find out what we're made of," said Crickard. "Since Christmas we've had a lot of adversity with the goaltending carousel, guys out injured, and we're still finding ways to win even if our top guys are missing or we're not playing our best game. So we're going to learn whether or not we're as good as we've shown tomorrow night against a very good team."
This is the second of four meetings between these two teams this regular season. The first time they met was on September 29th in Kelowna. Everett escaped with a 4-3 shootout victory as Tips goaltender Carter Hart made 35 saves in the win. It was a milestone night for Rockets import rookie defenceman Libor Zabransky as he registered his first point in the WHL collecting the secondary assist on Captain Cal Foote's second goal of the season. Before the night was through he ripped a slap shot from the point for his first career WHL goal, making that evening his first career multi-point evening as well. The Rockets and Tips meet again on Saturday in Everett for the third quarter of the season series before their final meeting of the season in Everett on Friday, March 2nd.
The Rockets enter Friday night with a record of 32-14-3-1 giving them 68 points, placing them in first in the B.C. Division. The Victoria Royals trail the Rockets by four points but Kelowna has played two fewer games. The Vancouver Giants sit in third in the division with 60 points.
Everett enters Friday night with a record of 32-17-1-2 giving them 67 points and placing them in first in the U.S. Division, three points ahead of the second place Portland Winterhawks. The Tri-City Americans are eight points back of the Tips and sit in third in that division.
The Rockets currently sit one point ahead of the Silvertips for first place in the Western Conference.
Puck drop on Friday night is at 7:05pm.
Kelowna and Everett play again on Saturday night at 7:05pm in Everett.
The Rockets are back at home on Wednesday, February 7th when they host their divisional rivals the Vancouver Giants.