Recap | Feb. 7 | Royals @ Rockets
Kelowna, BC – It was a mid-week battle at Prospera Place as the visiting Victoria Royals (25-18-4-4) faced off against the Kelowna Rockets (23-24-3-0) in the CHL Game of the Week. Not only was it a crucial matchup for playoff positioning, but fans across the CHL were able to tune in via national broadcasting as TSN showcased the game on their streaming platforms. Both teams aimed to break two-game winless streaks, with Victoria falling 5-3 to the Seattle Thunderbirds in their most recent game and the Rockets losing 8-5 to the Spokane Chiefs.
Jayden Kraus earned the start for Victoria between the pipes, while Jari Kykkanen got the nod for the home side.
The home side capitalized first in the opening stanza as Tij Iginla (35) grabbed the first of the contest with a powerplay marker. Iginla showcased persistence on his team-leading tally, following up with a loose puck after his own shot was blocked before beating Kraus. Gabriel Szturc and Andrew Cristall tallied the assists on the early goal as Kelowna notched it just over seven minutes into the period.
Kelowna would extend their lead to a pair as Hiroki Gojsic (14) found the back of the net. Gojsic was the recipient of a perfectly placed pass from Michael Cicek, who carried the puck over the blue line before carefully chipping it to the streaking forward, who did the rest with a quick snap shot that evaded the shoulder of Kraus.
That would be the final entry in the first period as Kelowna carried their two-goal lead into the middle frame. Neither side found a way through during the second period as Kraus and Kykkanen kept the shooters at bay.
Included in the flurry of saves was a highlight of the night candidate from Kraus. The 17-year-old netminder displayed brilliance with a ten-bell save on Gabriel Szturc, stretching his right arm to knock down the shot with the paddle of his stick.
The game headed into the third period with Kelowna maintaining a two-goal lead, and it remained that way as the Rockets shut down the Royals’ offensive prowl.
Jayden Kraus did all he could, stopping 39 of the 41 shots he faced, but Victoria fell short as the Rockets claimed a 2-0 victory on home ice.