Consider Pavel Novak acclimatized to the North American game.
The crafty Czech forward scored once and added two assists as his Kelowna Rockets beat the Tri-City Americans 6-1 on Wednesday night at Prospera Place in WHL play.
Novak earned first-star status for the effort.
Kyle Topping, Dillon Hamaliuk, Nolan Foote, Liam Kindree and Alex Swetlikoff also scored for Kelowna. Foote added three assists, and Leif Mattson had two helpers of his own.
Roman Basran made 19 saves on 20 shots.
Edge Lambert scored for Tri-City as Beck Warm, the reigning WHL goaltender of the week, made 36 stops on 42 shots.
Kelowna improved to 3-1-1 this season thanks to a three-goal outburst in the second period, and a crucial penalty kill to start the third. They will look to keep the good times rolling when they play twice in Prince George this weekend against the Cougars (0-3-1).
They breezed through a scoreless first period like they had somewhere to be after the game. Outside a few minor penalties and the odd offside call, there wasn’t much between them.
Tri-City’s Samuel Huo forced Basran into an acrobatic save during a scrum with about eight minutes to play. Foote had a wicked one-timer saved, but that was as close as they got.
It wasn’t until the final seconds of the first that the tide turned for Kelowna. The Ams’ Mitchell Brown took a late cross-checking penalty trying to stop a hard-working Ethan Ernst along the boards behind Tri-City’s net.
It gave Kelowna a minute worth of four-on-three power-play time. Thirty seconds after the intermission ended, Novak took a pass at the blue line, skated into the Ams’ slot and ripped a wrist shot past Warm’s glove.
The Rockets doubled their lead on a strange, bouncing shot seven minutes later. You’d need super slo-mo replay to figure out how Swetlikoff’s shot went from the right faceoff circle, through a crowd and jumped past Warm.
The third came off another fortunate bounce in front, but the Rockets earned the puck luck at 14:16. Mattson charged down the left wing heading behind the Ams’ net. He centered on the short side where Novak took a stab at it. It bounced right to Kindree alone with the open net at the far post for a 3-0 advantage.
Tri-City pulled one back less than two minutes after that when Lambert tipped a point shot past Basran, but that was all the Kelowna netmider would allow despite what came next.
A body check-gone-wrong as the middle frame expired put Tri-City on a four-minute power play. Michael Farren collided awkwardly with a Tri-City defenceman behind the Americans’ net. The scary looking collision left both players on the ice needing help from their respective trainers, and Farren in the box for boarding.
Kelowna killed the double minor, however, and rode that momentum to three more goals in the third.
Foote muscled his first of the season past Warm before Novak wowed the crowd again a few minutes later.
With the puck in the faceoff circle to Warm’s left, Novak threaded a nearly no-look pass through a maze of players to Hamaliuk alone at the far post. It was an easy tap-in from there.
It just wasn’t Warm’s night, as was obvious to the 4,215 fans in attendance. With seven minutes to play, Topping appeared to be heading behind the Ams’ goal. Instead, he backhanded a pass out front where Warm somehow deflected it back into his own net.
Tri-City will certainly wonder what happened in this one. They were physical, but had no answer for the speedier Rockets.
AFTERBURNERS — Kelowna is now 3-0 against U.S. Division teams: Tri-City, the Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips. All three of their wins have come on home ice. ... Kelowna was 2-for-6 on the power play; Tri-City was 0-for-3. ... Kelowna is on the verge of a trying 10 days. After the P.G. trip this weekend, they will travel to Seattle on Oct. 11 before returning home to face the Kamloops Blazers on Oct. 12.
Americans 1 at Rockets 6
Penalties — Novak, Kel. (high-sticking) 5:17; LaJoie, TC (hooking) 12:53; Brown, TC (slashing) 16:39; Liwiski, Kel. (slashing) Kushniryk, TC (roughing) 19:09; Brown, TC (cross-checking) 19:52.
1. Kelowna, Novak (1) (Mattson, Foote) :30 pp
2. Kelowna, Swetlikoff (1) (Farren) 7:30
3. Kelowna, Kindree (2) (Novak, Mattson) 14:16
4. Tri-City, Lambert (1) (Cadieux) 16:06
Penalties: Bell, TC (tripping) 4:49; Cadieux, TC (interference), Wong, Kel. (embellishment) 7:59; Farren, Kel. (double minor, boarding) 18:57
5. Kelowna, Foote (1) (Hamaliuk, Comrie) 3:29
6. Kelowna, Hamaliuk (4) (Novak, Foote) 6:57 pp
7. Kelowna, Topping (4) (Foote) 12:31
Penalties: LaJoie, TC (slashing) 5:39; Lee, Kel., Greenway, TC (10-minute misconduct) 17:31; Brown, TC (charging) 18:29
Shots on goal:
Kelowna — 12-18-12--42
Tri-City — 6-10-4--20
Power plays (goals-chances)
Kelowna — 2-6. Tri-City — 0-3.
Kelowna, Basran (20-19); Warm, TC (42-36)