Rockets continue dominance in Victoria, now 15-1-1

in Other News, regular season

Kelowna RocketsKelowna Rockets’ centre Rourke Chartier and goaltender Jackson Whistle eye the puck during WHL action against the Victoria Royals Wednesday night at Prospera Place.

— Image Credit: Warren Henderson/Capital News

by Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist, with files from Warren Henderson, Capital News

November 5, 2014 10:05 PM – 


The Kelowna Rockets may have been knocked down a peg, from No. 1 to No. 2, in this week’s Canadian Hockey League top-10 poll released Wednesday afternoon, but they proved as potent as usual later in the day at Prospera Place.

The Rockets used a quick start to defeat the visiting Victoria Royals 5-1 to move to 15-1-1. The Royals (9-8-2) scarcely knew what hit them in the first period as goals by Nick Merkley, Justin Kirkland and Tyson Baillie gave Kelowna a 3-0 lead. Second-period goals by Madison Bowey and Rourke Chartier put it away for the Rockets.

Merkley, 2013-14 WHL rookie of the year and only 17 years old, pushed his league-leading total to 30 points by adding two assists, while Chartier extended his league lead in goals to 15 and Baillie moved into second place with 12. Bowey, a second-round NHL draft pick and under contract to the Washington Capitals, leads all WHL defencemen in scoring with 25 points after a three-point night.

Brandon Magee, who has four goals and 12 points in the seven games since returning from a 12-game suspension to start the season, scored for Victoria in the third period. The goal came with a man advantage, making it the eighth consecutive game in which Victoria’s league top-five power play has scored.

The run of the play seemed relatively equal, with each team managing 28 shots, even thought the scoreboard told another tale.

“We had some chances. But you can’t make critical [defensive] mistakes against one of the top teams in the country, and that’s what happened,” said Royals head coach Dave Lowry.

“Falling behind like that in the first period is a hard hole to climb out of against a team like this.”


Victoria Royals forward Regan Nagy, left, chases after Kelowna Rockets winger Tomas Soustal during WHL first period action at Prospera Place on Wednesday evening.   Photograph By Gary Nylander - See more at:

Victoria Royals forward Regan Nagy, left, chases after Kelowna Rockets winger Tomas Soustal during WHL first period action at Prospera Place on Wednesday evening.   Photograph By Gary Nylander 


Jackson Whistle, a 19-year-old native of West Kelowna who came into the game with a 2.14 goals-against average and .923 save percentage, made 27 saves in net for the Rockets. Dressed as backup for the Rockets was Michael Herringer of Comox.

Coleman Vollrath blocked 17 shots and allowed all five goals in two periods of work for Victoria. Recently-signed Jayden Sittler mopped up with a six-stop third-period. Sittler’s only previous WHL game was last season — a start for the Kootenay Ice that was a shutout — so he has yet to allow a goal in four periods of WHL action.

The game turned unruly in the last five minutes of the third period, with Kelowna’s Colton Heffley and Victoria’s Travis Brown and Austin Carroll all receiving 10-minute misconducts, while the Rockets’ Riley Stadel and Royals’ forward Regan Nagy squared off in a fight.

Rockets’ assistant coach Kris Mallette, who thought the Royals were taking a few too many liberties with certain Kelowna players, was happy with the way his club responded.

“As we continued to score I thought the liberties continued to escalate,” Mallette said on AM 1150 following the game. “I love the pushback we had at the end. That’s team building, that’s great. It’s first time this year, for sure, and I think the guys are going to bond around it.”

Tyson Baillie and Justin Kirkland also scored for the Rockets who lost all four games to the Royals at home last season.

The Rockets, now a WHL-best 15-1-1, will host the Spokane Chiefs on Friday night, 7 p.m. at Prospera Place.

Forward Tyler Soy rejoined the Royals roster after missing three games due to injury.

The Royals now head north for a set Friday and Saturday against the Prince George Cougars (10-8).