For one day the Kelowna Rockets, were supplanted from the driver’s seat in the WHL’s BC Division by the rival Victoria Royals.
On Monday afternoon, with no love lost between the clubs, the Rockets took top spot right back from the Royals with a 5-4 victory over Victoria at Prospera Place.
Kole Lind had two goals and an assist and Dillon Dube had three points as the Rockets rebounded from back-to-back losses to the hometown Royals on Friday and Saturday.
Kelowna (34-17-4-1) leads Victoria (34-20-3-1) by one point with the Rockets holding two games in hand.
“Obviously it’s good for the group to bounce back after a couple of disappointing games in Victoria,” said Rockets head coach Jason Smith. “We played a pretty solid game, did some good things, I think the game was really competitive.”
Still, the win may have come with a cost for the Rockets who lost both Lind and netminder James Porter to injury.
Midway in the second period, Lind left the game and didn’t return after taking a hit from Royals defenceman Ralph Jarratt.
Lind, who was down on the ice for several minutes, appeared dazed had to be helped off to the Rockets dressing room.
“Kole’s an elite player and he’s been really good for us the the whole year,” Smith said of the injury to Lind. “It’s tough for your lineup when you lose a guy like him.
“I don’t really have any comment on the hit because the league will look at that and there might be decisions on what they thought, whether it was a clean hit or non-clean hit,” said of the check delivered by Jarratt. “It was a physical game with lots of pace. I think it was a little marginal because I think his feet were in the air…other than that, it’s hockey.”
Porter left the game with 8:40 left in the third period after Dube checked a hard-charging Igor Martinov into the net on top of the Kelowna goaltender. Smith didn’t have an immediate update on the status of either Porter or Lind.
Brodan Salmond replaced Porter in the Kelowna and needed to make just one save the rest of the way, preserving the Rockets’ one goal lead.
Porter had just returned to the lineup Friday night after being sidelined since Jan. 13 with an upper body injury.
Dube finished with a goal and two assists, while Carsen Twarynski, with his team-leading 34th, and Gordie Ballhorn also scored for the Rockets.
The Royals won both games in Victoria, 6-1 Friday and 4-3 in overtime on Saturday.
The Rockets return to action Wednesday night when they host the Red Deer Rebels. Face off at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.