View Full Version : Feb 28th artical

03-01-2005, 03:32 PM
From the Rockets web site.

Rockets Climb Back into Top Spot
February 28, 2005

A week ago at this time, the Rockets were 5 points behind and just looking to get back into their season-long battle with the Kootenay Ice for first place in the BC Division and the overall WHL standings. Today, it's the Ice who are looking up at their rivals thanks 4 consecutive Kelowna wins including Saturday's dramatic 4-1 victory over Kootenay that has the Rockets on top with 8 games to play.

There wasn't a seat or a standing room spot to be had Saturday as Rockets' Director of Marketing, Gavin Hamilton, spent most of the day finding seats for the many families, billets and other team personnel anxious to take in the 'game of the year'! The Rockets had pushed their way to within a point of Kootenay thanks to a 4-3 win in Vancouver, Friday, that was coupled with Prince George's 5-2 upset of the Ice the same night. A play-off atmosphere permeated the sunny Okanagan sky leading up the game and the teams were greeted with an energy-filled, jam-packed Prospera Place that was laced with anticipation.

"The fans were awesome," said Rockets' forward Gary Sylvester who contributed 2 huge goals in the back to back, weekend wins. "After every big hit or a penalty kill they cheered madly and that really kept the guys pumped up on the bench. It was electric!"

To add more fuel, an early game announcement reminded everyone that Saturday's game was the 1,000th in Rockets' franchise history and that the Kelowna fans had just been named the best of their lot in the WHL for the 3rd consecutive season. However, Kootenay star, Nigel Dawes suddenly ended that celebration when he fired home an ankle-high drive that beat Derek Yeomans to open the scoring just 42 seconds into the game.

"That goal didn't phase us one bit," said Sylvester. "We just knew we had to battle back that much harder."

Before the first period was out, Kelowna had enough goals to win. Tyler Spurgeon, the Rockets' leading scorer and a burgeoning WHL star in this, his third season, tied the game when he fired home a snap shot from the slot on a Kelowna power play. Then Sylvester duplicated Dawes' effort when his hard slap shot from just inside the blue line beat Jeff Glass. During Friday's win, the truculent Penticton-native, connected on a beautiful stop-and-fire play that saw his laser-guided slap shot whistle into the top corner.

"It feels good to score," he said. "Scoring isn't something I do everyday but it's nice to score a big goal in a big game."

In the second period Latvian rookie Lauris Darzins picked up his 18th of the year after Chris Ray's deflection of a point shot slid fortuitously to give Darzins an easy tap in. Justin Keller closed out the game's scoring with an empty net marker with just over a minute to play.

After their triumphant but dizzying week just past that featured five 'must win' games, the Rockets enjoyed a bright and sunny Sunday off as they look ahead to games this week - at home Wednesday versus Spokane and back in Vancouver next Saturday. Meanwhile, the Ice trekked home to Cranbrook after their defeat that marked the end of a 6-game road trip. They'll host Kamloops next Saturday.