Leif Mattson and the Kelowna Rockets may have found the blueprint for success this season.
Despite losing in overtime on Friday night in Kamloops, an energized Mattson had two assists as the Rockets thwarted the Everett Silvertips 5-1 on Saturday night in WHL action at Prospera Place.
For a team playing its second game in 24 hours, it was an inspired, all-around effort.
"We didn't get the results we wanted last night in Kamloops," Mattson said. "We knew we had to come out and play a hard 60 (minutes) today. We came out of the gates flying at them for the full 60 and ended up getting the two points."
It sounds so simple. But it took a tremendous amount of effort and discipline against a physical, dangerous Everett (1-2-0) team.
The 5,011 fans watched what could become a familiar script for Kelowna (2-0-1): attacking in waves, active sticks in front of good goaltending and timely contributions from all four lines.
Sean Comrie, Liam Kindree, Trevor Wong, Kyle Topping and Jake Lee scored for the Rockets. Roman Basran made 26 saves. Kaedan Korczak, Michael Farren and Pavel Novak also had two assists each.
Dustin Wolf turned aside 23 shots for Everett before being replaced to start the third period. Keegan Karki allowed one goal on six shots.
For Comrie and Lee, it was there first goals since joining the Rockets in the off-season.
"People are really going to start noticing how deep our team is," Mattson said. "We've got four lines that can contribute, and bringing those guys in really contributes to our roster. Everybody is firing on all cylinders, and when that happens, good things happen."
Lee opened the scoring midway through the first period. He picked up a Farren pass, crossed into Everett's zone and — with few good options — fired a wrist shot on goal.
It didn't appear to deflect of anyone, and it didn't make its way through a screen. It beat Wolf under the arm on the blocker side for a 1-0 lead.
Everett wasn't without its chances in the first, but Basran's glove, and quick sticks in front of him, kept the Silvertips off the scoresheet.
The Rockets broke out with three goals in the second.
Topping doubled Kelowna's lead two minutes into the period much the same way as the first goal. He circled into the slot from along the boards. Without any Silvertips in his face, he simply leaned into a wrist shot that beat Wolf — you guessed it — on the blocker side.
Wong scored his first of the season thanks to a heads-up play from Farren, who faked going behind the net and instead centred out front. Wong dove at the puck and poked it into the empty net.
The pass must have impressed Novak, who duplicated the play a few minutes later.
On the power play, Novak glided deep into Everett's zone along the right wing. Rather than shoot, he swept a pass against play to Kindree alone in the high slot. Kindree had all kinds of time and leaned into his own wrist shot that beat Wolf (to the glove side this time).
It must have left Wolf wondering what he'd done to tick off his defence, because they left him alone far too often on Saturday night. It was too much for Everett coach Dennis Williams, who pulled Wolf to start the third in favour of Keegan Karki.
The end of the second and start of the third was proof Everett's frustration was boiling over. Dillon Hamaliuk took down a Silvertips player along the boards at Kelowna's blue line. It was a dangerous looking hit, and Everett's Dawson Butt took exception.
He jumped at Hamaliuk immediately, dropping his gloves and taking two quick pops at the Rockets' forward.
The refs slapped Butt with a double roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct.
Hamaliuk was slow to leave the ice, but returned later. According to the Rockets, he wasn't injured on the play.
Everett broke Basran's shutout bid with about seven minutes to play. Wyatte Wylie lobbed a pass to Berezowski, who corralled it and beat Basran through the five-hole on the breakaway.
Comrie took it back with 30 seconds to play in the game, however. He took a pass from Nolan Foote to Karki's right and unleashed a blast the goalie couldn't control. The puck squeezed through on the short side.
Saturday night's game was a welcome sign the Rockets can rebound from a loss, head coach Adam Foote said.
"We were pretty hard on them, we didn't like out game in Kamloops," he said. "Our players are probably going to gain some confidence that when we play the right way, good things are going to happen. We weren't greedy. We weren't too selfish. ... I thought our players handled themselves well."
Kelowna will have no time to enjoy this one, however. They're on the road this afternoon for a 4 p.m. tilt against the Vancouver Giants.
It's a tough test for the Rockets against the defending Western Conference champions.
"They're a big, heavy team," Foote said. "They're a veteran team, so we're going to have to make sure that we don't come in too high and be ready for a team that plays very hard."
Silvertips 1 at Rockets 5
1. Kelowna, Lee (1) (Farren, Korczak) 11:31
Penalties — Farren, Kel. (high-sticking), 3:23; Vitelli, Eve. (interference), 4:07; Lee, Eve. (interference), 13:00; Lee, Kel. (high-sticking), 15:42.
2. Kelowna, Topping (3) (Novak, Mattson) 2:16
3. Kelowna, Wong (1) (Farren, Swetlikoff) 3:11
4. Kelowna, Kindree (1) (Novak, Korczak) 17:16 pp
Penalties — Kindree, Kel. (cross-checking) 4:26; Lee, Kel. (high-sticking) 9:55; Lambert, Eve. (interference) 16:38; Sutter, Eve. (boarding) 18:53; Hamaliuk, Kel. (interference) 18:57; Topping, Kel. (tripping) 19:09
5. Everett, Berezowski (2) (Wylie) 13:11
6. Kelowna, Comrie (1) (Foote, Mattson) 19:35
Penalties — Butt, Eve. (roughing, 10-minute misconduct) 1:35; Comrie, Kel. (cross-checking) 3:52; Lee, Eve. (hooking), Patterson, Eve. (10-minute misconduct–mouthguard) 9:03; Butt, Eve. (charging) 19:01
Kelowna: 2/7. Everett: 0/7.
Shots on goal
Kelowna, Basran: 27-26
Everett, Wolf: 27-23; Karki (to start third) 6-5