B.C. title on line as Rockets battle Blazers
The math is pretty straightforward: Three wins in their last five games and the Kelowna Rockets will be the B.C. Division champs for the second time in three years.
The Rockets can take a big step in that direction this weekend with at least a split against the rival Kamloops Blazers.
The teams face off Friday at the Interior Savings Centre, before meeting again Saturday night at Prospera Place.
Kelowna (47-16-3-1) leads the Blazers (45-18-2-3) by three points for the division lead and second overall in the Western Conference, with the Rockets holding one game in hand.
The Blazers have won the last four meetings between the teams.
"It's a big weekend for a lot of reasons and we have to play accordingly," said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. "It's an opportunity for us to do something special and win the division, but we also may have to go through Kamloops again in the playoffs, so we need to show we can compete and play well."
The Rockets are coming off a 4-3 shootout win over Victoria Wednesday, a game in which Huska thought his team played tentative and, at times, appeared to be afraid to make mistakes.
With the playoffs just around the corner, Huska said those tendencies need to be eliminated.
"Sometimes when you want something so badly (division title) you don't play the way you should," said Huska. "We have to handle the situation better than we have been. The game is meant to be fun and the guys need to get back to playing that way."
The Rockets expect the return of forward Myles Bell to the lineup this weekend. Bell missed Wednesday's game against Victoria with a lower body injury. JT Barnett remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
The Rockets will wrap up the regular season with three games in three nights next weekend, beginning with the Prince George Cougars Thursday night at Prospera Place.
Kelowna will then play a home-and-home set against the Giants—Friday, March 15 in Vancouver and the following night in Kelowna.