The Kelowna Rockets are already well-acquainted with the Victoria Royals. By Monday night, it’s unlikely there will be any mysteries left between the longtime B.C. rivals.
With top spot in the WHL’s B.C. Division on the line, the Rockets and Royals will meet three times in a four-day span—Friday and Saturday in Victoria, then again on Monday afternoon at Prospera Place.
The Rockets (33-16-3-1) head into the weekend with a two-point lead on Victoria (32-19-3-1), with Kelowna holding a pair of games in hand.
“I’m sure it’ll be exciting,” said Rockets head coach Jason Smith, whose team was an 8-4 winner over Victoria in the previous meeting between the teams on Jan. 20. “The last time they played in here there was some physicality, some excitement, both teams were prepared to play and compete.
“I think these next three games will be the same way,” added Smith, “I think there’s going to be lots of energy, I’m sure there’ll be some animosity and it’ll be exciting for our guys to raise their play to that challenge.”
The Rockets opened a stretch of four games in six days against divisional opponents with a 4-1 victory over the Giants Wednesday at Prospera Place.
The win came on the heels of a pair of setbacks to the Everett Silvertips in a home-and-home battle for top spot in the Western Conference. Smith said with a key series of games coming up against the Royals, it was vital for the Rockets to get their game back in order.
“We were disappointed with our weekend (against Everett), our compete and execution wasn’t where it needed to be,” he said. “But (Wednesday’s win) was a good bounce back and some momentum in the right direction.
“We need to be ready to go into Victoria, start the game the right way and make sure we compete,” he added. “They’re a team that’s playing well, they’re right on our heels. We need to be focused and prepared to play 60 minutes.”
Face off Monday at Prospera Place between the Royals and Rockets is 2:05 p.m.