Reece Klassen pitched his first shutout as a member of the Spokane Chiefs, stopping all 25 shots the Kelowna Rockets could muster on Friday night.
Klassen’s efforts, with the help of two goals from Adam Beckman and singles from Jake McGrew and Nolan Reid, resulted in a 4-0 win for the host Chiefs (26-17-2-3).
For the Rockets (20-25-4-1), it marked the fifth time this season that they have been blanked.
Goaltenders James Porter and Roman Basran split the game for Kelowna, allowing two goals each. Porter started and stopped 13-of-15 shots over 36 minutes 49 seconds before being replaced by Basran, who blocked 15-of-17 over 23:11.
Klassen, who was acquired by Spokane from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Jan. 2, now has a 2-1-0-1 record with the Chiefs, including a .940 save percentage and a 1.47 goals-against average.
Klassen became available after Lethbridge landed Kelowna product Liam Hughes from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Jan. 1 in a goaltending shuffle ahead of the WHL’s Jan. 10 trade deadline.
The Rockets are back home tonight to face the rival Kamloops Blazers (20-25-3-1) — 7:05 p.m. at Prospera Place — in what should be a barnburner, with playoff positioning at stake in the first of five more head-to-head meetings.
Kelowna is just one point up on Kamloops for third place in the B.C. Division standings, with the Blazers holding a game in hand on the Rockets. Kelowna is also only one point ahead of Seattle for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Those three teams will be battling for two playoff berths down the stretch. Kelowna has 18 games remaining, Kamloops has 19 and Seattle has 20.
Looking upwards, the Rockets trail the second-place Victoria Royals (25-20-1-1) by seven points. Victoria also has three games in hand on Kelowna.
The Vancouver Giants (32-13-2-1) nearly have the division wrapped up with 20 games to go, leading the Royals by 15 points for first place.