Marissa Baecker/Shoot the BreezeJake Elmer (left) and the Lethbridge Hurricanes will battle Kole Lind and the Kelowna Rockets Wednesday in WHL action in Southern Alberta.

Rockets launch three-game Alberta tour

B.C. Division leaders play in Lethbridge Wednesday, Medicine Hat Friday and Red Deer on Sunday

  • Jan. 23, 2018 12:00 a.m.

The Kelowna Rockets headed to Southern Alberta this week sitting atop the WHL’s B.C. Division.

If all goes as planned, Jason Smith’s club will be in the same position when the Rockets return home in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Kelowna (29-14-2-1) opens a three-game, four-day road trip Wednesday night in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes. Stops will follow Friday night in Medicine Hat against the Tigers, then Saturday in Red Deer against the Rebels.

“I think it’s an exciting challenge for us,” Smith said of the games ahead. “Obviously we want to come out and play well right from the start and hopefully carry that through the trip.

“It’s an opportunity for us to play some good road games, we had a disappointing effort last week in Seattle, so we’d like to be a lot better.”

Kelowna fell 7-2 to the Thunderbirds on Friday in Kent, WA but rebounded nicely with an 8-4 victory over the Victoria Royals the following night at Prospera Place.

Rookie goaltender Cole Tisdale picked up his first win in his first WHL start against the Royals. With injuries to both James Porter and Roman Basran, veteran Brodan Salmond and Tisdale will tend to the Kelowna net this week in Alberta.

Salmond is 1-1 with a goals against average of 5.00 in his first games back since a knee injury sidelined the 19-year-old in November.

“(Brodan) played well in his first game back (against Lethbridge), then struggled at times against Seattle,” said Smith. “He had been out a long time so we’re looking for him to continue working on getting his game back where it can be. Tisdale gave us a good start against Victoria, so that was a positive for us.”

The Rockets next home action is next Tuesday against Medicine Hat. Game time at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.

Two Rockets ranked…

A pair of Kelowna Rockets have been cited among the top North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings.

Forward Kyle Topping is rated 64th, while defenceman Libor Zabransky is ranked 110th in advance of the NHL entry draft June 22 and 23 in Dallas.

In his second season with the Rockets, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Topping has 17 goals and 30 assists in 46 games.

A WHL rookie from the Czech Republic, Zabransky has a goal and 16 points in 46 games.

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