Last Friday night, the Kelowna Rockets jumped on the hometown Seattle Thunderbirds early en route to a convincing 6-2 win.
A week later, the T-Birds will undoubtedly be looking for payback when the teams face off once again tonight in Kent, WA.
Rockets’ head coach Jason Smith said replicating last week’s first period will be key for his team.
“We went in there last time and got off to a good start in the game,” Smith said. “It’s important when you spend that much time on the bus and going into a building that’s hard to play in.
“It’s about starting the game the right way, making sure you’re ready to compete and do things that allow your team to have success.”
With rookie goaltenders James Porter and Roman Basran both sidelined, veteran Brodan Salmond will shoulder the netminding load, at least through the weekend.
Salmond, who had been recovering from injury, played his first game since early November on Wednesday as the Rockets edged the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime.
“I think he’s excited about the challenge,” Smith said of Salmond, 19. “Any time you’re out hurt and you have the chance to come back, you’ve got that energy and that burst, and he was excited (Wednesday). Now it’s about getting food, rest, and being ready for the next one.”
Porter is sidelined on a day-to-day basis with an upper body injury, while a lower body injury will keep Basran out for the long term.
Cole Tisdale, who plays midget AAA in Lethbridge, will serve as Salmond’s back up.
Meanwhile, in his first game back since the world junior championship, Dillon Dube had a goal and an assist for the Rockets, while fellow gold medalist Cal Foote netted the overtime winner. Both were honoured for their world junior victory prior to Wednesday’s game.
Connor Bruggen-Cate scored twice Wednesday for the Rockets (28-13-2-1) who stretched their lead to three points over Vancouver atop the B.C. Division.
The Rockets will be back home Saturday to host the Victoria Royals.