Imagine that: Ryan Olsen has 30 goals and the Kelowna Rockets have 25 home wins midway through February.
Not many saw either statistic coming, with Olsen only scoring 15 goals in his NHL draft year with the Saskatoon Blades last season, while the Rockets mustered a mere 16 wins in Kelowna during the 2011-12 campaign.
Olsen scored two goals on Thursday, both on the power play, and added an assist for a three-point night in a 4-1 win over the visiting Everett Silvertips in WHL action at Prospera Place. That improved Kelowna's home record to 25-4 after finishing last season 16-18-0-2. This season featured a 23-game winning streak on home ice - one shy of the team record - that was halted last weekend by top-ranked Portland, which swept a two-game set 5-3 and 5-1.
But the B.C. Division-leading Rockets (42-13-3-1) rebounded for their second straight victory over the Silvertips, having also prevailed 3-2 in Everett on Sunday.
"They're a team we might play in the playoffs coming up here, so we wanted to give it to them and show them it's not easy to play us in this rink," Olsen said of the seventh-place Silvertips (21-32-1-4), a potential first-round opponent should the standings stay the same.
"We came out kind of slow, but, in the third period, we finished really strong."
Olsen had the finishing touch, netting his second on a tic-tac-toe passing play with set-ups from captain Colton Sissons and Zach Franko to round out the scoring at 16:26 of the third period.
Olsen also opened the scoring by redirecting Myles Bell's point shot past Silvertips goaltender Daniel Cotton at 9:01 of the first.
"We didn't expect him to get 30 goals this year," admitted Rockets head coach Ryan Huska, whose team acquired Olsen in a blockbuster off-season trade for last year's leading scorer Shane McColgan and Jessey Astles. "Down the road, you always kind of project to see what (Olsen) might do when he's 19 years old, but he had some success early and gained a bit of confidence this season. He's kind of found a spot on the power play that he's enjoying, so hopefully he'll continue (scoring) and continue to develop in other areas as well."
Sissons, with his 24th goal of the season, tallied on a two-man advantage as Kelowna went 3-for-5 on the power play, and J.T. Barnett, with an unassisted marker for his 12th, also scored for the Rockets.
At the other end, Jackson Whistle was solid in stopping 20 of the 21 shots he faced for his second win in a row over Everett.
The one shot that eluded Whistle went undetected by the on-ice officials but a lengthy video review following the second-period buzzer determined the puck did, in fact, enter the net with 31 seconds left in the second.
That Landon Oslanski goal spoiled Whistle's shutout, but his effort, which included a highlight-reel glove save to rob Logan Aasman's 2-on-1 chance with Kelowna leading 1-0 in the second period, was not lost on his teammates.
"Whistle played great again. He's been probably the best back-up you can have. We have confidence in him, and he comes in there and works so hard every time," said Olsen, who agreed with Huska that he's exceeded expectations this season. "I had a terrible year last year. I didn't produce as well as I wanted, but to come here and produce 30 goals . . . to get 30 goals in this league is something special. It's a big accomplishment. I'm only 18 (years old), but I've got a lot of confidence right now, so that helps a lot."
The Rockets are in the midst of a busy stretch in their schedule, playing three games in three nights this weekend after four games in a five-day span last week. Kelowna is in Kamloops tonight to open a home-and-home set, with the third-place Blazers (38-15-2-3) visiting Prospera Place on Saturday night. Puck drop is 7:05 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Kelowna scratched LW Carter Rigby (foot), D Mitchell Wheaton (upper-body), RW Austin Glover (illness) and D Riley Stadel. . . . Everett scratched Kelowna native D Ayrton Nikkel (lower-body, week-to-week), RW Lucas Grayson (lower-body), LW Joshua Winquist (upper-body) and D Austin Adam (upper-body).