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Rockets take aim at Saskatoon Blades, 6-game Prairie sweep
The remedy for Myles Bell's offensive funk turned out to be a road trip to the Prairies.
The 20-year-old forward has tallied six times and added a pair of assists as the Kelowna Rockets have rolled up five straight victories on their tour of the WHL's Eastern Division.
Bell and the Rockets will try close out their Prairie visit at a perfect 6-for-6 when they visit the Saskatoon Blades on Tuesday night.
Bell, who led the team in scoring last season, had just one goal in his last eight games prior to climbing on the bus Dec. 8.
"This trip has been very good for him," head coach Ryan Huska said of Bell, who scored overtime winners in both Brandon and Regina. "He's found a way to get his offensive confidence back, and he has a real jump in his step. It's a good thing for him, but even better it's been a very good thing for our hockey club."
Centre Tyson Baillie has been the most productive Rocket with two goals and 10 points on the trip, while Ryan Olsen has also been effective with four goals and eight points.
As much those three have been key catalysts for the Rockets, Huska said his club's success in Saskatchewan and Manitoba has been very much the result of a team effort.
Kelowna has trailed in every game but one during the trip, but has found ways to rally back for the win each and every time.
"More than anything, I think it's our resolve that's made the difference," he said. "We've found ourselves behind the 8-ball in pretty much every game, but it didn't seem to phase our guys at all. There were situations where we should have been fatigued, but the guys found a way to win. Earlier in the season, it was our goaltending that was lights out. That hasn't been the case on this trip, so it's good to see our guys step up."
With 10 consecutive victories, the Rockets (27-3-0-2) have pushed their league-leading win total to 27—more than halfway to the club record of 52 victories set last season.
While Huska tends not to focus on the numbers, he admits the Rockets's success through the first half of the WHL season is an encouraging sign.
"We've done a very good job to date," said Huska. "We're still going to face some challenges as we move along, but things have been good. The guys are excited about what they've been able to do, and they should be. Hopefully we can finish off the trip with another win, then the guys can take some time off, refocus and come back ready to go after Christmas."
The Rockets first action following the Christmas break is Friday, Dec. 27 at home to the Kamloops Blazers.