The Kelowna Rockets are looking to bounce back into the win column Friday night in Calgary after taking it on the chin in Lethbridge on Wednesday evening.
Two days ago, Kelowna’s modest three-game winning streak came to an end in a 5-1 setback to Lethbridge. The Hurricanes outshot the Rockets 37-27 despite Kelowna being handed seven power plays. Kelowna scored just once with the extra man, while Lethbridge was 0-for-3.
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“[Wednesday] was a tough game,” said Kelowna rookie defenceman Cayde Augustine “We were battling back-to-back [games] plus bus travel, which is always hard, but we need to put that game behind us and move on. We have two big games here in Calgary and Medicine Hat that are important for us to win. We need to refocus on the task at hand and be ready to go for the next two.”
Wednesday’s game was the second of a four-game Central Road trip, one that began Tuesday with a 3-1 victory in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice.
Tonight, Kelowna (15-15-2-0) will visit Calgary (14-14-2-1). The Rockets are 6-3-1-0 in their past 10 games and are second in B.C. Division standings with 32 points. Kelowna is 12 points behind first-place Vancouver (21-6-2-0, 44 points) and three head of third-place Victoria (14-13-1-0, 29 points).
The Hitmen are 7-2-0-1 in their past 10 games and are fifth out of six in the Central Division with 31 points. Calgary is 11 points up on last-place Kootenay (7-21-5-1, 20 points) and four behind fourth-place Medicine Hat (16-14-1-2, 35 points).
Kelowna’s games against Calgary and Medicine Hat will be the only time the Rockets will face those franchises this season. Last season, Kelowna was 1-1 against Calgary, losing 4-3 at Prospera Place on October 17th, then winning 3-1 in Calgary on January 7th.
Game time against Calgary is 6 p.m. PT.
Meanwhile, Augustine, who hails from Airdrie, Alta., has had family following the Rockets’ road trip.
“My family has been at all of the games so far on this road trip. I have a lot of family and friends coming to watch me play in my hometown [Friday],” said Augustine. “It’s exciting because my family doesn’t get the chance to come to very many games in Kelowna, so when they get the chance to see me play, it’s really special for me and them. They are my biggest supporters and get me through a lot.
“The game [Friday] is going to be one of the most special ones of my career, not only because I grew up watching hockey at the Saddledome, but also because all of my friends and family will get to watch. I’m very excited.”
A trio of Kelowna Rockets – Nolan Foote, left, Lassi Thomson and Kaedan Korczak – were invited to play in next month’s CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Red Deer, Alta.
Rockets trio invited to 2019 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
Three Rockets will be playing in January’s CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The annual game features 40 of the CHL’s top prospects for next year’s NHL entry draft. The three Rockets invited to the game were left winger Nolan Foote plus defencemen Lassi Thomson and Kaedan Korczak. The game will take place January 23rd in Red Deer, Alta., and will also feature players from the OHL and QMJHL.
Foote is rated as an A prospect by the NHL Central Scouting on its ‘Players to Watch’ list. That translates into a likely first-round section at the NHL draft in Vancouver. Foote is a 6-foot-3 winger who is third in team scoring with 31 points (18 goals, 13 assists) in 31 games this season. Foote, who is from Engelwood, Colo., but now calls Kelowna home, also recently played for Team WHL at the recent Canada-Russia series last month in Kamloops and Vancouver. He had four penalty minutes in the two games.
Thomson, from Tempere, Finland, has a B rating, which likely means a second-round or third-round selection. At six feet and 187 pounds, this is the puck-moving defenceman’s first season in North America. Thomson is sixth overall in WHL rookie scoring with 22 points (7 goals, 15 assists) in 33 games. Thomson was added to Finland’s World Junior Hockey Champoinship preliminary roster and will leave for their pre-tournament camp on Saturday.
Korczak, from Yorkton, Sask., also has a B rating. The 6-foot-3 rearguard is sixth in team scoring with 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists) in 33 games. Korczak also played for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton in August, helping his country win gold.
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