Kyle Crosbie had a goal and an assist and Kelowna’s goaltenders split a 14-save shutout as the Rockets beat the Victoria Royals 4-0 to open their WHL pre-season on Friday night at Prospera Place.
Alex Swetlikoff, Elias Carmichael and Dallon Wilton also scored for the Rockets. Jake Poole had two assists.
Cole Schwebius — making his Kelowna Rockets debut after an off-season trade from the Seattle Thunderbirds — started in net and made nine saves. Rookie Cole Tisdale took over midway through the game and stopped five more.
Keegan Maddocks was Victoria’s starter and left the game after stopping 11 of 12 shots. Backup Connor Martin faced 13 shots and made 10 saves.
Swetlikoff opened the scoring 7:33 into the game when he coolly slotted home a wrist shot over Maddocks’s glove. The Kelowna goal-scorer found himself alone at the far post when the puck caromed to him. He controlled it, picked his spot, and drilled it.
Both teams breezed through much of the first period before Kelowna’s Trevor Wong took a tripping penalty with about five minutes to play. But instead of giving Victoria the advantage, Kelowna’s Mark Liwiski took the ensuing faceoff the length of the ice. He barged down the right wing and nearly lifted the puck over Maddocks’s left pad, which he had pinned to the post.
Despite a few half-chances, the Rockets killed the penalty and came to life in the dying minutes.
Wong hit the crossbar with about 2:15 to play before he combined with Rilen Kovacevic in close. But the rookies couldn’t get a handle on a bouncing puck that stayed out of the net.
Victoria’s best chance came with 19 seconds to play when Carter Briltz one-timed a hard, cross-ice pass that Schwebius stretched to save. It was anything but a routine save, and reason for the 2,482 fans to cheer. At least those behind the net.
An energized Royals team emerged from the first intermission, but it was Rockets forward Nolan Flamand who nearly scored. His shot from in close was enough to bring fans to full voice, but the puck seemed ot hit iron.
Chances by Victoria’s Braden Smith and River Fahey sandwiched a terrific opportunity from Kelowna’s Crosbie in the early going. But the goals never materialized.
To give you some indication of Victoria’s frustrations, Tisdale didn’t face a shot in 10 minutes of work after both teams swapped tenders at 10:03 of the second period.
Kelowna padded its lead on the power play early in the third. Carmichael’s shot from just inside the left point beat a screened Martin deep in his net.
Wilton stretched it to 3-0 when he converted some great work by Steel Quiring from in close.
Crosbie made it 4-0 when he controlled a rebound and backhanded it past Martin.
Kelowna iced the more “veteran” lineup with eight WHL regulars from last season. Victoria had just four players with some WHL experience.
AFTER BURNERS — Kelowna was 1-for-6 on the power play; Victoria was 0-for-6. … Wong had the highlight of the night early in the third. Along the right boards in Victoria’s zone, he slipped the puck behind a defender, spun and charged alone into the heart of the Royal zone. He got a shot away, but didn’t get much on it with a Victoria defenceman hauling him down from behind. … Kelowna’s next preseason game is Sunday in Kamloops against the Blazers. They’re at home next Sept. 8 against the Prince George Cougars.
Royals 0 at Rockets 4
Kelowna – Scoring summary from the Victoria Royals at Kelowna Rockets pre-season WHL game at Prospera Place:
1. Kelowna, Swetlikoff (Babcock), 7:33
Penalties – Wong, Kel. (tripping) 14:59; Liwiski, Kel., Fahey, Vic. (unsportsmanlike conduct) 20:00.
Penalties – Spizawka, Vic. (tripping) 6:22; Cutler, Vic. (slashing) 15:52; Aquilon, Vic. (holding) 19:14.
2. Kelowna, Carmichael (Crosbie, Poole), 6:43 (pp)
3. Kelowna, Wilton (Quiring, Babcock) 10:06
4. Kelowna, Crosbie (unassisted) 13:16
Penalties – Crosbie, Kel, (hooking) 2:01; Newans, Vic. (slashing) 5:20; Dereniwky, Vic. (hooking) 8:56; Crane, Vic. (high-sticking) 14:10; Babcock, Kel. (tripping) 15:03; Carmichael, Kel. (interference) 15:43; Swetlikoff, Kel. (holding the stick) 18:49.
Goaltending (shots-saves): Schwebius, Kel. (9-9); Tisdale, Kel. (at 10:03 of second period) (5-5). Maddocks, Vic. (12-11); Martin, Vic. (at 10:03 of second period) (13-10).
Shots on goal:
Kelowna: 8-7-10 – 25
Victoria: 6-3-5 – 14
Power play (goals/chances)
Kelowna: 1-6. Victoria: 0-6.