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October 27, 2017 7:02 pm

Rockets Blast Cougars

Sunday, February 5, 2017 @ 6:48 AM

The Kelowna Rockets are heading home with all four points from the weekend after a 5-1 victory Saturday night at CN Centre.

Reid Gardiner and Kole Lind each had three points while Nick Merkley chimed in with two goals for the visitors while Jesse Gabrielle had the lone goal in response for the Cougars who are now 0-2 on their current six game home stand.
Two first period goals from Nick Merkley staked the Rockets to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. His first of the game came at 8:11 and then the Arizona Coyote’s first rounder added his second of the game via the power play at 18:01. Kelowna outshot the Cougars 13-6 in the opening period.

Early in the second the Cougars came within an eyelash of making it a 2-1 game, but Rockets goaltender Michael Herringer dove to his left and somehow got the paddle of his stick on Nikita Popugaev’s shot from the left circle to keep his team ahead by two.

Jesse Gabrielle got the Cougars on the board moments later when he dashed down the left wing, raced wide on the Kelowna defender and tucked home his 25th of the season through the legs of Michael Herringer. It was Gabrielle’s 100th career goal in the WHL and it had the crowd of over 4300 jacked up!

89 seconds later though the Rockets restored their two goal cushion when Reid Gardiner knocked down a Cougar clearing attempt, skated into the slot and wired his first of two on the night past Cougars starter Ty Edmonds. Kelowna led 3-1 after 40 minutes and held a 22-17 lead in shots.

Prince George outshot the Rockets 11-8 in the final period but the Rockets would tack on two more. Kole Lind snuck his third goal of the weekend past Ty Edmonds on a backhand at 7:23 to make it 4-1, and then Reid Gardiner made it 5-1 on a power play at 11:28 to cement the 5-1 final.

Kelowna’s power play finished two-for-four while the Cougars went zero-for-three.

The Cougars loss coupled with the Blazers win in Spokane means that the Cougars hold a six point lead on the B.C. Division. Everett were also winners on Saturday meaning the Cougars lead in the Western Conference is now down to three points.

Now the Cougars will put their 36-16-3-0 record on the line Tuesday against the Vancouver Giants who are in town for a week-night double-header. The Cougars have yet to lose more than two games in a row all season, and they’ll look to continue that trend Tuesday against the G-Men.


Is this our post Xmas slump?? We were dominated .The big Europeans need to be exactly that and start to take the body! Morrison not playing to potential–maybe injured. Too much chipping the puck out of our end and it going to the opposition player, rather than a Cougar–IE. a desperation move to get the puck out of our end under a relentless forecheck and we give up possession–this happened in both games. I can see a BAG SKATE. What do other fans see???

What’s with all the puck passing during a power play?

    Perhaps they’ve been watching too many Canucks’ games on TV.

So why the obvious difference between road trip wins and home game losses ? Maybe home life hasn’t been as disciplined as a bus ride and hotel room curfews. Cougars are getting out worked now at home and whining about penalties when dumped on their butts ! Their power play is non existent ! Work ethic and discipline !

They didn’t look good for sure, but there is one big difference this year. Our guys aren’t used to being chased and gunned at every single game. Other teams are hitting and playing harder against the Cougars than in previous years. New territory for them, having the target on their back.

This season’s post Christmas record resembles last years which isn’t a good sign with March approaching quickly. I love PG’s depth up front but why is Brad Morrison playing 3rd/4th line minutes? Morrison was flying at the start of the season when expected to produce offensively. I understand the teams desire to get bigger in order to compete with the WHL heavyweights however GM Harkins trading for two big bodied Europeans who don’t finish their checks doesn’t appear to be the answer. What a waste of size! Reunite Morrison with Harkins and give the players who got the team into the CHL’s Top 10 the icetime they deserve!

It was a chippy game at times, and lots of things that could have been called were not. Seemed like it really got the Cougars off their game as they spent a lot of time chirping at the ref looking for calls instead of just playing the game and getting back to business. Kelowna just wanted it more this weekend.

Not sure if it’s possible, but would be great if they could bring in a power play specialist coach to switch things up. Too much passing, not skating hard enough, and not enough one timers. They skate like crazy when killing off a penalty, and then once the power play starts everything just slows right down. Need to start just blasting it from the point if nothing else works and then bury the rebounds.

Twelve 19 year olds in the line up this year. If they don’t have a strong playoffs. It’s going to be painful for the next few seasons after

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