It's now 23 and counting for the Kelowna Rockets. Can they make it 24? Possibly 25?
At Kelowna, Jordon Cooke recorded his fifth shutout of the season for the Rockets, and Myles Bell scored twice, as the hosts clubbed the Vancouver Giants 5-0 in WHL action at Prospera Place on Saturday night. The win pushed Kelowna's winning streak on home ice to 23 games, one short of the franchise record.
Up next is a road game, Wednesday in Spokane. After that, though, are two home games, where the Rockets could set a new record. Maybe records, including one for
attendance, as the league-leading Portland Winterhawks will be in town for back-to-back games at Prospera Place.
Though the Rockets aren't looking past the Chiefs, one can't help but look at Kelowna's next two home games against Portland (43-7-1-2).
"Spokane is a very tough building to play in; we were there just a short period of time ago," said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.
"It's important for us to get as many points as we can if we want to have a chance at (catching) Portland as we move down the stretch here. So we need to make sure we're focused on Spokane.
"As much of a challenge as that may be, I know our players have had a circle around Feb. 8-9, because they look at it as our only opportunity to kind of get closer to Portland right now. But we have a job to do first, and it's important to make sure that we're focused on that.
"And then we can turn our attention to Portland once we get to Thursday."
Dylen McKinlay, with his 19th goal of the season, Ryan Olsen, with his 27th, and blue-liner MacKenzie Johnston, with his fourth, a shorthanded marker to close out the scoring midway through the third period, also scored for Kelowna (40-10-3-1). Bell's goals were his 30th and 31st of the season.
The win also marked the ninth time the Rockets reached 40 or more wins in the franchise's 22 seasons. The last time was 43 wins in 2010-11, with the highest being 51 wins in 2002-03. The Rockets have 18 regular-season games remaining, including 10 at home.
Vancouver (13-40-0-0) suffered its 40th loss of the season, the second worst in franchise history. The team's worst season was 2001-02, which was the Giants' expansion season (13-49-6-4). Vancouver has also been shutout eight times this season, with seven of those taking place in road games.
Payton Lee made 19 saves for Vancouver, which trailed 3-0 after the first and second periods. Cooke made 22 stops for the Rockets, who improved to 5-0-1-0 against the Giants this season.
"There were a couple saves in the first period that were key for us," said Huska. "But both of our goaltenders - Jordon tonight and Jackson Whistle on Friday - were really good."
The game was also Kelowna's seventh contest in 10 nights.
"This isn't anything we're using (as an excuse)," said Huska. "We've given the guys ample time off over this stretch. The one scary thing for coaches is we don't have much practice time, because we're giving them more rest time, and you can see certain areas that can creep in a little bit. It would be nice to get a little bit of practice time under our belt, but the important thing for our players in this situation is to make sure they have the proper rest."