Despite a 6-2 loss in Calgary on Sunday, there haven’t been too many glitches in the Kelowna Rockets’ game over the last six weeks.
One of the Western Hockey League’s hottest teams heading to holiday break, the Rockets have won 16 of their last 20 games, including taking four out of five on a gruelling six-day tour of the Central Division.
At 23-10-1-1, Kelowna has pulled to within six points of the Kamloops Blazers for top spot in the B.C. Division and into third spot overall in the Western Conference.
Head coach Ryan Huska commended his players for a solid first half as the club heads into a well-deserved Christmas respite.
“There’s no doubt it’s very positive right now and it’s important for the guys to feel good about themselves and what they’ve done here in the first part of the season,” said Huska. “They also know that after Christmas the stakes go up and the league takes a big jump. They’ll need to continue working hard and raise their intensity as the season progresses. So far, the guys have been doing a very good job.”
The Rockets brushed aside the first four opponents on their recent eastern trip, outscoring Kootenay, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer by a combined total of 17-5.
Those wins followed a streak of 12 straight victories at home as the Rockets continue to play a solid team game with a consistent work ethic.
“The guys are doing a good job of all working the same way and playing as a team,” Huska said. “We also have four lines that can contribute and we have different people stepping up for us every game. When you have all those things going for you, you’re going to have success.”
Injuries to goalies Jordon Cooke (lower body) and Jackson Whistle (bruised knee) complicated issues on Rockets’ eastern tour as 15-year-old prospect Jake Morrissey was pressed into service in the third period in Calgary.
Still, the break has come at a good time and Huska said both Cooke and Whistle should be fit and ready to go when play resumes after Christmas.
As for captain Colton Sissons, Huska hopes he’ll rejoin the team for practise on Dec. 26.
The 19-year-old North Vancouver native has been sidelined since Nov. 30 with an upper body injury.
The Rockets return to action Thursday, Dec. 27 when they host the Kamloops Blazers.