Rock­ets blank Roy­als

Bas­ran out­du­els Out­house for 1st shutout of sea­son

Penticton Herald - - SPORTS - By GLEN ERICK­SON

Mid­way through the Kelowna Rock­ets’ con­test against the divi­sion ri­val Vic­to­ria Roy­als, it be­came ap­par­ent that one of the teams was prob­a­bly go­ing to have to win ugly.

For the Rock­ets, now 14-15-2 on the sea­son, win­ning ugly on Fri­day night sure beat the al­ter­na­tive.

“It was one of those games, I thought the first 10 min­utes it didn’t seem like we had our legs,” said Rock­ets head coach Adam Foote. “We weren’t forecheck­ing or backcheck­ing, but once we fig­ured it out in the se­cond pe­riod, I thought we had a lot of good op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I thought their goalie played out­stand­ing.”

In­deed, goal­tend­ing was the key. The teams had com­bined for 27 goals in their first four meet­ings this sea­son, an av­er­age of al­most seven per game. But, on this night, the 4,822 in at­ten­dance at Pros­pera Place were treated to a puck-stop­ping clinic.

Ro­man Bas­ran con­tin­ued his solid play of late, turn­ing aside all 16 shots he faced. While the skaters con­tinue to try and find ways to score goals, the 17-year-old Bas­ran has done ev­ery­thing in his power to give the Rock­ets a chance to win each time out.

Grif­fen Out­house, an over­ager at 20, was steady through­out for Vic­to­ria (13-12), block­ing 31 shots, con­trol­ling re­bounds and gen­er­ally frus­trat­ing the Rock­ets’ shoot­ers.

The teams skated through an un­event­ful first frame, although the puck did sneak be­hind Bas­ran shortly af­ter the mid­way point. With the puck atop the net, Kaid Oliver swiped it off Bas­ran’s back and into the goal. Be­cause Oliver’s stick was above the cross­bar, of­fi­cials ruled it was knocked in by a high stick.

Later in the open­ing pe­riod, Bas­ran robbed Dante Han­noun from in close — snar­ing the one-timer to keep the af­fair score­less.

Bas­ran con­tin­ued to stand tall dur­ing the se­cond stanza, ston­ing Oliver on a short­handed break­away.

Mean­while, the Rock­ets pep­pered Out­house with 24 shots through 40 min­utes. The vet­eran net­min­der was able to shut the door un­til the 8:31 mark of the third pe­riod.

On a Rock­ets power play, Lane Zablocki gained the Roy­als’ blue line, drew both de­fend­ers and slid the puck across to Kyle Top­ping, whose shot went wide. Zablocki re­cov­ered the puck and shoved it to­ward the crease from be­hind the Roy­als’ net where de­fence­man Mitchell Prowse in­ad­ver­tently knocked it be­hind Out­house.

Zablocki, who was cred­ited with his third of the cam­paign, was ex­cited to score against his for­mer team.

“It was kind of a lucky goal,” he said. “But ev­ery time you play against a for­mer team, it’s fun. It gets your blood pump­ing a lit­tle bit.”

Nolan Foote added an empty-net­ter with 59 sec­onds to play, his 18th of the sea­son. Two sea­sons ago as a 16-year-old, Foote scored 19 times — his ca­reer high to date.

For Bas­ran, he earned his se­cond ca­reer shutout. The other came last sea­son in his first ca­reer start, a 38-save, 4-0 blank­ing of the Medicine Hat Tigers at Pros­pera Place.

Kelowna is now 2-2 in games they en­ter the fi­nal pe­riod tied. How­ever, the Rock­ets con­tinue to be good fron­trun­ners. When lead­ing af­ter 40 min­utes, Kelowna is 11-0 on the sea­son, and also 7-0-1 when lead­ing af­ter the first pe­riod.

ICE CHIPS: Three stars were Bas­ran, Out­house and Zablocki, who was ac­quired by Kelowna on Sept. 28, with Vic­to­ria get­ting two ban­tam draft picks in re­turn . . . . The Rock­ets were 1-for-3 on the power play. The Roy­als were 0-for-3 . . . . For the se­cond straight game, Kelowna scratched RW Michael Far­ren and D Cayde Au­gus­tine. . . . Through 15 home dates so far, av­er­age at­ten­dance is 4,570 per game . . . . Kelowna out­shot Vic­to­ria, 32-16. The Rock­ets are 7-5 when out­shoot­ing op­po­nents . . . . The Prince Ge­orge Cougars dropped a 5-2 de­ci­sion to the Win­ter­hawks in Port­land, while the Van­cou­ver Giants and Kam­loops Blaz­ers were idle on Fri­day . . . . The Rock­ets hit the road Mon­day and play four games in five nights against Cen­tral Divi­sion op­po­nents, start­ing Tues­day in Cran­brook against the Koote­nay Ice, who ap­pear to be mov­ing to Win­nipeg with an an­nounce­ment Mon­day.

MARISSA BAECKER/Shoot­the­breeze.ca

Kelowna Rock­ets for­ward Leif Matt­son, right, at­tempts to screen Vic­to­ria Roy­als goal­tender Grif­fen Out­house as Jame­son Mur­ray of the Roy­als de­fends dur­ing first-pe­riod WHL ac­tion on Fri­day night at Pros­pera Place. The Rock­ets won 2-0.

MARISSA BAECKER/Shoot­the­breeze.ca

Kelowna Rock­ets head coach Adam Foote, left, talks strat­egy with as­sis­tant coach Travis Crickard dur­ing Fri­day’s vic­tory over the Vic­to­ria Roy­als. The Rock­ets im­proved to 10-5-2-0 un­der Foote since he re­placed Ja­son Smith in a coach­ing change on Oct. 23.

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