The Kelowna Rockets raced out to a 4-1 advantage and then held off a late Chiefs’ rally and defeated Spokane 4-2 in front of 5,209 fans at the Spokane Arena Friday night. Alessio Bertaggia notched two assists in his home debut as the Chiefs fell to 15-6-0-0 at home and 28-16-1-0 overall.
The Rockets got on the board first at the 5:03 mark as Jesse Lees rebounded a shot in front of the crease and fired it past Garret Hughson for the score. Kelowna’s lead was short lived though as Brenden Kichton delivered the equalizer for Spokane at 8:45 with assists from Bertaggia and Blake Gal. The goal extended Kichton's point scoring streak to 10 games during which time the Chiefs' captain has scored six goals and tallied nine assists.
Kelowna regained the lead at 15:54 with Ryan Olsen beating Hughson with a top shelf goal. Spokane had two 1-on-1 breakaway opportunities in the waning minutes of the first but neither Todd Fiddler nor Mike Aviani were able to find the back of the net. The Rockets outshot the Chiefs 11-9 in the period.
The Rockets stretched their advantage to 3-1 at the 6:42 mark of the second as Olsen scored his second goal of the night, this time on the power play. Kelowna scored again at 11:50 with MacKenzie Johnston corralling a shot off the post and sneaking it past Hughson to put the Rockets ahead 4-1.
Blake Gal cut into Kelowna’s lead just 41-seconds into the third period as he fired a laser beam from the right circle past Cooke with assists from Bertaggia and Dylan Walchuk. Despite outshooting the Rockets 21-4 in the period, Gal’s score proved to be the last for the Chiefs, as Kelowna goalie Jordon Cooke stopped 20 shots in the third.
Hughson finished 24 of 28 on save opportunities while Cooke was 38 of 40. Spokane went 0 for 5 on the power play and 2 of 4 on the penalty kill.
Tonight’s three stars: Ryan Olsen (1st), Myles Bell (2nd), and Brenden Kichton (3rd).
The Chiefs are home again tomorrow night against the Tri-City Americans.