February 24, 2019
The Kamloops Blazers did all they could to run the Kelowna Rockets out of their own building early in Saturday's WHL tilt at Prospera Place.
But, when the Rockets stood their ground, it was the Blazers who offered little to nothing in the way of push-back.
Rockets get crucial 2 points (WHL)
In a game more important to the Blazers, it was the Rockets who pushed back hardest in a 2-0 victory, and a seven-point bulge in the BC Division standings.
"We knew what they were going to do. They started this year in pre-season trying to bully us, and if worked for a while," said head coach Adam Foote.
"Guys are starting to believe we can get through things like that. I actually think our guys are starting to like playing that style of game."
Foote said to win in the league the team needs to learn how to play in any type of game, and playing a more physical team like Kamloops was much different than Friday's win against a speedy team in Spokane.
After a scoreless first period in which neither offence looked particularly dangerous, the Rockets came out with a bit more offensive jump in the second.
Nolan Foote banged home what would turn out to be the game-winner.
Lassi Thomson led the rush into the Kamloops end and sent a drop pass to Liam Kindree. His shot from the right circle was stopped by Dylan Ferguson, but Foote pounced on the loose puck for his 31st.
Mark Liwiski doubled the lead four minutes later on a similar play, converting a rebound off Michael Farren's shot.
They are the type of goals coach Foote has been preaching since he took over the reins four months ago.
"(When) you are down to the playoffs and you are playing against good goaltending, good structure, you have to get to the dirty areas.
Louie's (Liwiski) been doing it a lot, and other guys are following and starting to learn how to do it. We got two dirty goals and that was the game."
Roman Basran took care of the rest, turning away just 18 shots for his second shutout of the season.
Kindree has provided a bit of an offensive spark for the Rockets since returning from the injury list Tuesday in Victoria.
He's chipped in with assists in each of his three games while playing on a top line with Foote and Lief Mattson.
"Missing time is not fun. I've done it way too much during my time in this league," said Kindree of returning to the lineup.
"The biggest part is coming back in stride as much as possible. The Rockets do a great job of keeping me in tip-top shape while I'm off the ice, so it's pretty easy to come back.
The Rockets have the better part of the week now to prepare for a tough three game weekend.
They're in Vancouver next Friday before returning home to host Portland Saturday and Sunday.
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