RECAP: Rockets suffer 4-2 loss to Royals
The Kelowna Rockets losing streak grew to six games with a 4-2 loss to the Victoria Royals on Tuesday night at Prospera Place in Kelowna BC.
Tied at two headed into the third period, the Royals jumped ahead while on the power play early in the third. The Rockets once again found themselves in the box late in the game, with the Royals striking again this time on a five-on-three power play.
“You’ve got to hate to lose,” said Rockets head coach Kris Mallette in his postgame interview. “Our group, I think they don’t like losing but I don’t think they hate it. Right now it’s just easier for them to say ‘oh well, it’s just another game,” but it’s not just another game. The mistakes we make, the ill-advised plays or penalties that we’ve taken end up in the back of the net it seems like. We can’t buy a goal and yet every mistake we make seems to be in the back of our net.”
Mallette was asked about the latest addition to the Rockets roster, 17-year-old import defenceman Marek Rocak. Selected 43rd overall by the Rockets in the 2022 CHL Import Draft back in June, the Czechia product has spent the majority of this season with HC Frýdek-Místek in the men’s Czechia2 league, appearing in 14 games. He could potentially make his debut this weekend against the Victoria Royals.
“He’s a right shot defenceman, he’s been playing in the men’s league for half of the season so I assume he’s had to compete being that he’s a younger player playing against men. I watched him at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he’s a puck mover that I know will be a welcome addition.”
The Royals thought that they had scored just before the midway point of the first, but it was waived off after it was deflected past Talyn Boyko with a high stick. Alex Edwards and Ismail Abougouche dropped the gloves before the end of the first, with both receiving game misconducts.
No review was needed after Brayden Schuurman (9) sped up the left wing weaving through traffic to beat Boyko 2:29 into the second. Andrew Cristall (24) picked off Braden Holt’s glove side corner to tie the game up once again. Exactly one minute after Cristall’s goal Jake Poole (20) pushed Victoria ahead again. Elias Carmichael’s (3) wrister from the blueline found its way into the back of the net to tie things up at two.
With a Rocket sitting in the penalty box, Marcus Almquist (4) capitalized on the man advantage 1:56 into the final frame. Max Graham took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking, while killing the man advantage Caden Price flipped the puck into the stands giving Victoria a five-on-three power play with just over five minutes to go in the game. Poole (21) took advantage of the pair of Rockets sitting in the box, netting the insurance goal with three minutes left on the clock.
- Kelowna outshot Victoria 33-30
- The Rockets were 0/3 on the power play, while the Royals were 2/6
- Brayden Schuurman was the game’s first star, Jake Poole was the second and Andrew Cristall was the third star
- The Rockets record is now 12-19-3-0
- Talyn Boyko made 26 shots on 30 saves
- It was 18-year-old John Babcock’s 100th WHL game
- The Rockets shared earlier in the day on Twitter that captain Colton Dach, who was injured at the World Juniors on Saturday, will remain with Hockey Canada at the tournament. Following the conclusion, he will head to Chicago where he will be evaluated by the Chicago Blackhawks medical team
- The Royals now hold a 3-2 lead in the eight-game season series, the two will meet again next weekend in Victoria on January 13th and 14th
The Rockets will be back in action on Friday at Prospera Place when they kick off a home-and-home series with the Kamloops Blazers, pick drop is set for 7:05 pm.
Single-game tickets for Friday’s game and all Rockets home games are on sale at Select Your Tickets. Tickets can be purchased online through www.selectyourtickets.com, at the Prospera Place box office, or by phone at 250-762-5050.