Kelowna Rock­ets take on Tri-City Amer­i­cans tonight at Pros­pera Place

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Okana­gan Week­end Staff

Im­por­tant as it was im­pres­sive, the Kelowna Rock­ets may have turned a cor­ner on Fri­day night by earn­ing their sec­ond win of the sea­son, hang­ing on for a 3-2 vic­tory over the Tri-City Amer­i­cans on the road in Ken­newick, Wash.

Fol­low­ing it up with an­other strong out­ing in tonight’s re­match at Pros­pera Place — puck-drop is 7:05 p.m. — would go a long way in right­ing the ship af­ter the Rock­ets (2-8-0-0) got off to their worst start in fran­chise his­tory.

Per­haps sparked by a cou­ple of trades this week — send­ing the mes­sage that ros­ter spots are no longer safe — and surely mo­ti­vated to face Tri-City for the first time since the Amer­i­cans swept the Rock­ets in the first round of the play­offs back in March, Kelowna jumped out to a 2-0 lead and played from ahead through­out.

The Rock­ets were full marks for this ef­fort and de­serv­ing of the re­sult af­ter out­shoot­ing the hosts in ev­ery pe­riod for a 37-22 over­all ad­van­tage.

Kelowna got goals from Dal­lon Wil­ton, with the first of his WHL ca­reer to open the scor­ing, Li­bor Zabran­sky, with his first of the sea­son, and Kyle Top­ping, with his third of the cam­paign mak­ing it 3-1 at 5:30 of the third pe­riod and stand­ing up as the game-win­ner.

Ro­man Basran made 20 saves for his first win of the sea­son, a solid per­for­mance that in­cluded a few late stops when Tri-City pulled its goal­tender for an ex­tra at­tacker and a two-man ad­van­tage af­ter Zabran­sky was pe­nal­ized for hold­ing with 1:45 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion.

Erik Gar­diner blocked a shot in the fi­nal minute and Kelowna’s penalty-killers got the job done in front of Basran to halt a four-game los­ing skid.

Now, the Rock­ets will aim for their first home win of the sea­son af­ter an 0-5 start at Pros­pera Place that in­cluded a wild 9-6 loss to the Seat­tle Thun­der­birds on Wed­nes­day.

Kelowna’s only other vic­tory came in Prince Ge­orge on Sept. 29, a 5-2 win that was fol­lowed by a 5-0 shutout loss at home to the Van­cou­ver Gi­ants on Oct. 3 — the same day that the Rock­ets were awarded host­ing rights for the 2020 Memo­rial Cup to end next sea­son.

The Amer­i­cans (3-3-0-0) fell to .500 with Fri­day’s loss. Tri-City got goals from Isaac John­son, with his third of the sea­son and sec­ond power-play marker of the cam­paign, and Blake Steven­son, with the first of his WHL ca­reer to match Wil­ton’s mile­stone.

Goal­tender Beck Warm fin­ished with 34 saves in de­feat.

ICE CHIPS: Kelowna scratched over-age RW Lane Zablocki (lower-body, 10 days), over-age RW Ryan Bowen, RW Michael Far­ren, LW Wil Kush­niryk, RHD Devin St­ef­fler and LHD Kyle Pow . . . . Over-age LHD Dal­ton Gally made his Rock­ets de­but, pair­ing with Lassi Thom­son af­ter be­ing ac­quired from the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wed­nes­day for a 10th-round pick in the 2020 ban­tam draft . . . . Far­ren, the most re­cent trade ad­di­tion, is ex­pected to de­but tonight af­ter ar­riv­ing in Kelowna on Fri­day. The Rock­ets landed Far­ren on Thurs­day from the Saska­toon Blades for a third-round pick in 2020.


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