Mitch Prowse had no trouble feeding the feud between his visiting Victoria Royals and his hometown Kelowna Rockets.
Prowse, who is from Kelowna but plays for Victoria, scored the winner midway through the game as the Royals edged the Rockets 6-3 on Wednesday night at Prospera Place in WHL play.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Prowse, who now has two goals this season. “Growing up watching hockey in this barn, and just to be able to play in front of all my friends and family, and get the win and score a goal, it’s really special.”
It was a sometimes chippy, sometimes sloppy affair between two teams playing for the third time in nine days. Victoria is now 2-1 in those head-to-head contests.
“They came into our barn and beat us with that 1-0 game,” Prowse said of their Oct. 30 matchup. “We came in with a little extra fire tonight, and it worked out.”
Alex Swetlikoff, Jake Poole and Pavel Novak scored for the Rockets, and Jake Lee had two assists. Kelowna started with Roman Basran in net, but pulled him in favour of Cole Schwebius midway through the first period.
Basran allowed three goals on six shots while Schwebius made 11 saves on 14 shots.
Prowse, Tarun Fizer, Sean Gulka, Keanu Derungs, Ty Yoder and River Fahey scored for Victoria. Brock Gould made 27 saves for the win in goal.
Gould and the Victoria power play made a big difference. Gould was good, and the Royals scored twice on four chances with an extra man.
Kelowna, on the other hand, was 1-for-4 on the power play.
It was a game that started slowly after a roughly 10-minute delay due to technical trouble with the P.A. system.
The Rockets, maybe, wished this game never started at all.
They tried to make up for the delay with an action-packed opening period. Victoria scored one early, and then two more late, for a 3-2 advantage at the first intermission.
Derungs opened the scoring just over a minute into the game with Nolan Foote in the box for boarding. He converted a one-timer deep in the faceoff circle to Basran’s left 13 seconds into the power play.
The Rockets returned fire almost immediately. It appeared Leif Mattson used a glove or high stick to score during a goalmouth scramble, and the ref immediately waved it off.
Video review showed Novak’s shot hit a defenceman’s elbow and bounced into the net.
A nifty backdoor pass from Jake Lee led to Poole making it 2-1 three minutes later.
But Yoder and Fahey retook the lead for Victoria and chased Basran from the net.
The Rockets just couldn’t break from their own zone without Victoria there to make life miserable.
“We were cheating a bit tonight,” Swetlikoff said. “That’s the word I’d use. Our centre support wasn’t there. Guys were looking trying to look for offence, and we just weren’t breaking out as cleanly as we usually do.”
Yoder, alone on the left wing, snapped a one-timer past Basran after a Kelowna turnover. Fahey banged in a loose puck from in close less than three minutes later, and Schwebius replaced Basran in the Kelowna net.
That Basran couldn’t keep the puck in his glove, and was beaten from distance, made for an early night. Early goaltending didn’t provide many highlights on either end, however. They combined for five goals on 13 shots.
Kelowna tied it up 3-3 early in the second. With Mark Liwiski screening, Swetlikoff’s wrist shot beat Gould cleanly. They had a chance a few minutes later to take the lead on a three-on-one break. But Novak’s quick shot hit iron behind Gould.
Prowse worked a give-and-go with Gulka, and then Gulka scored one of his own on a rebound in close two minutes later and Victoria led 5-3 heading into the final period.
Fizer piled on late in the third after Lee took an interference penalty. Fizer slapped a shot that Schwebius got a piece of, but it dribbled under him to end the scoring.
Rockets coach Adam Foote said his club was its own worst enemy. When a player made one mistake, the team compounded its impact by making another one in quick succession.
“We out-chanced them, we outshot them,” he said. “Our big mistakes ended up in the back of our net. They didn’t have too many big mistakes. It’s hard to come back from that.”
Victoria (7-7-1) will leave happy, having snapped a two-game slide. Kelowna (9-5-2) allowed a two-game winning streak burn up, although they remain tied with the Kamloops Blazers for top spot in the B.C. Division.
The Rockets are back in action on Friday when the Medicine Hat Tigers (10-5-1) arrive at Prospera. The Tigers beat the Prince George Cougars 5-4 on Wednesday.
AFTERBURNERS — The three stars were Gulka, Kaid Oliver and Swetlikoff. … Attendance was 4,885. … The 50-50 was $6,205. ... F Vladislav Mikhalchuk has returned to the Prince George Cougars from the KHL. He led P.G. in scoring last season with 25G and 25A in 68 games. The Cougs traded F Matej Toman to the Saskatoon Blades to make room. Saskatoon flipped a 6th-round pick back to P.G. … Saskatoon traded D Libor Zabransky to Moose Jaw for a 7th-round pick. Zabransky played 107 games for Kelowna, scoring four goals and 28 points. … A malfunctioning P.A. system delayed the game 10 minutes.