The Kelowna Rockets were victorious in Kris Mallette’s debut as the Rockets interim head coach. Kelowna downed the Victoria Royals 3-2 on Friday night at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
After a scoreless opening twenty minutes, the Rockets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period. The Royals clawed their way back twice to make it a one-goal game, but the Kelowna was able to hold on for their 25th win of the campaign.
Dillon Hamaliuk (12) got the Rockets on the board first 14:21 into the second period. The San Jose Shark prospect wrapped his way around the net and fired a backhand past Royals starter, Connor Martin. Three minutes Jake Lee (5) extended the Rockets lead to two, Matthew Wedman picked up his 2ooth WHL point on the goal with an assist.
Brandon Cutler (16) banked his shot from below the goal line off of Roman Basran and into the Rockets net to cut Kelowna’s lead in half with 8:39 to play in the third. Rookie import forward Pavel Novak (21) kept his hot streak going, netting the eventual game-winner. Royals captain Phillip Schultz (15) pulled them back within one 39 seconds after Novak’s goal.
Both teams were 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
Victoria outshot Kelowna 36-28.
Nolan Foote (lower-body), Liam Kindree (upper-body), Steel Quiring, Michael Farren (upper-body), Tyson Feist (upper-body) and Sean Comrie (upper-body) were the Rockets scratches.
Goaltender Roman Basran stopped 34 of 36 shots to pick up his 25th win of the season and first star honours.
The Rockets will be back in action tomorrow night when they take on the Royals again tomorrow in Victoria.