Old coach returns
The Kelowna Rockets get set to host a gold medal ceremony for the two Canadian World Junior gold medalists followed by a battle with the Spokane Chiefs at Prospera Place on Hat-Trick Wednesday.
The Rockets are coming off of a 3-1 win over the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday night. James Hilsendager(6) scored in the second period to tie the game before Marek Skvrne(2) and Conner Bruggen-Cate(9) each scored in the third to pull the Rockets ahead for the eventual win. Overall, the Rockets have won 6 of their last 7 games. Tomorrow is the first game back for Cal Foote and Dillon Dube since Team Canada's win at the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships. Rockets Goaltending Coach Adam Brown says having Foote and Dube back in the lineup will give the Rockets a welcome boost.
"Obviously adding two players of World Junior quality, that are NHL draft picks and NHL signed players back into your locker room and into your lineup it makes a huge impact," told Brown. "Not just on the ice but off the ice as well leading by example, really getting the team going, getting the team focused and ready to play. Obviously on the ice these guys help make sure the boys stay sharp. That added fire power is going to be huge for us."
This is the Rockets third of four games against the Chiefs this season. The previous two meetings left each team with a regulation win. On November 22nd the Chiefs beat the Rockets 6-2 in Spokane, but upon Kelowna's return on Dec. 1st., the Rockets found redemption winning 4-2. Chiefs Head Coach Dan Lambert is returning to Prospera Place for the first time since his departure as the Rockets Head Coach in 2015, Lambert led Kelowna to a WHL Championship before his team fell one goal short of the 2015 Memorial Cup.
The Rockets enter Wednesday night with a 25-12-2-1 record giving them 53 points. They currently sit atop of the B.C. Division, two points ahead of the second place Vancouver Giants, and three ahead of the third place Victoria Royals. The Rockets have two games in hand over the Giants and three over the Royals.
The Spokane Chiefs enter the game with a 21-16-1-2 record placing them tied for fourth place in the U.S. Division with the Seattle Thunderbirds, each team has 45 points. The Chiefs and Thunderbirds are sitting four points back of second place in that division, as the Portland Winterhawks and the Tri-City Americans are tied with 49 points each.
The Rockets will have a gold medal ceremony prior to the opening face off against the Chiefs on Wednesday night. The ceremony prior to puck drop will honour Rockets Captain Cal Foote, and Rockets Assistant Captain/Team Canada Captain Dillon Dube for winning gold with Team Canada at the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo, NY.
Puck drop on Wednesday is at 7:05 p.m.