Tri-City Americans at Kelowna Rockets

KELOWNA, BC - FEBRUARY 12: Talyn Boyko #31 of the Tri-City Americans makes a first period save on a shot by Kyle Topping #24 of the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on February 8, 2020 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)

Of all the accolades and flashy numbers, it was dependable defenceman Tyson Feist who got the shaving-cream pie in the face after the game.

Feist scored his first career WHL goal — in his 99th game — as the Kelowna Rockets defeated the Tri-City Americans 8-3 on Wednesday night at Prospera Place.

“After 99 games, it starts to bother you a little bit,” Feist said as he cleaned the soap from his eyes. “But I just try to take it off my mind and just play.”

It was Kaedan Korczak who snuck up behind Feist during his post-game interviews with a towel filled with shaving cream. 

Because Feist’s effort — he also had two assists and four shots on goal — was one of many worth celebrating.

Matthew Wedman scored a hat trick, Pavel Novak had a goal and four assists and Kyle Topping had a goal and three helpers.

The win ended a five-game slide for Kelowna (24-25-1-2), while Tri-City (15-31-4-1) has dropped four straight.

Mark Liwiski and Dillon Hamaliuk also scored for the Rockets while Roman Basran made 24 saves in front of 4,869 fans.

Tyson Greenway, Connor Bouchard and Edge Lambert replied for the Americans, who got 37 saves from Talyn Boyko. Kelowna outshot Tri-City 45-27.

Kelowna needed that victory, head coach Adam Foote said. He said he was happy the Rockets were rewarded, but that they didn’t try and do too much against the last-place Ams.

“The guys played well, did a lot of good things that we worked on in practice,” he said. “When you get up a few goals like that, you want to make sure that you’re doing the right things — playing playoff-style mentality. We have to gear up for that. … For the most part, we were dialled in.”

Aside from brief lapses to start the game, and to start the third period, Kelowna was in control throughout.

Tri-City actually opened the scoring on the power play 2:48 into the game. The refs booked Kelowna defenceman Elias Carmichael for holding — behind the play, long after the puck had left the zone — and the Ams capitalized.

Luke Zazula spotted Lambert in the slot, and he snapped a low shot just under Basran’s blocker.

Kelowna responded about 90 seconds later on a terrific play between Topping and Novak.

Topping held the puck at Tri-City’s blue line. Novak rushed at him, and Topping flipped a backhand pass into the zone. Novak picked it up with speed, held off a defenceman and scored on the glove-hand side.

Wedman gave Kelowna the lead at 15:48 on the power play, but again it was thanks to a Topping assist.

From the right wing, Topping snapped a hard pass into the slot that Wedman deflected for his 13th this season.

Tri-City was fortunate to head into intermission down 2-1. The Ams gave Kelowna three power-play chances, and trailed 15-5 in shots on goal. Wedman also rang a shot off the crossbar.

Hamaliuk kept the pressure on high 3:33 into the second period. He out-muscled an Ams’ defenceman along the right-wing boards, cut into the slot and — falling to his knees — scored on the forehand to make it 3-1.

Topping got one for himself at 14:23 when he cleaned up a rebound. Feist shot from the right side, and Boyko kicked out his right pad. The puck caromed to the left wing, and Topping banged it into the empty side.

Wedman made it 5-1 about a minute before the second intermission. He took a Novak pass along an empty right wing and flicked the puck across the face of goal, over Boyko’s shoulder and off a post.

Tri-City ate up some sloppy play to start the third. Eight seconds into the final frame, and killing a penalty, the Ams dumped the puck behind Kelowna’s net.

Nobody touched it, and it bounced out front where Bouchard scored past a surprised Basran to make it 5-2.

Wedman completed his hat trick three minutes later when he finished a two-on-one with Conner McDonald.

Feist’s came after Tri-City couldn’t clear its own zone. The puck came to Feist along the right-wing boards, and he sent a puck into the slot hoping to hit Wedman at the back door. Instead, it appeared to hit a defenceman’s stick and deflect into the net.

Greenway responded with a nice solo effort, stickhandling in tight and roofing his first WHL goal over Basran’s shoulder on the short side.

Liwiski ended he scoing at 11:35 of the third when he smashed a Novak pass into the far corner.

Kelowna will look to make it two straight on Saturday night against the Red Deer Rebels (18-29-2-3).

AFTERBURNERS — Kelowna scratched F Nolan Foote (LBI, day to day), F Michael Farren (UBI, day to day), F Liam Kindree (UBI, 8 weeks) and D Sean Comrie (UBI, indefinite). … Tri-City scratched four regulars and three affiliated players, most notably RW Krystof Hrabik, their captain. … Ams coach Kelly Buchberger played 1,182 NHL games, mostly over 12 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. He also played for the Atlanta Thrashers, LA Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. He amassed 309 points (105G, 204A) and 2,297 penalty minutes. … The Colorado Avalanche drafted Mutala in 2019 (5th round, No. 140). … Donna O’Brien handled the anthems. … The 50-50 was $5,297.50.