WEDNESDAY'S WHL MATCH-UPSWed Jan 16
ROCKETS BATTLE CHIEFS – Zach Franko and the Kelowna Rockets (31-10-2-1) welcome Brenden Kichton and the Spokane Chiefs (28-14-1-0) for a battle between top Western Conference clubs in WHL action on Wednesday.
The Rockets are coming off a 4-3 overtime setback in Vancouver to the Giants on Saturday night, putting a halt to an eight-game winning streak, but remain in first place in the B.C. Division standings. The Rockets have won 17 straight games on home ice. Franko has four goals and 11 points over his last seven games, and ranks second on the team in scoring with 52 points.
The Chiefs doubled up the visiting Kootenay Ice 4-2 on Saturday night for their fourth victory over their last five games, and currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. The Chiefs are 3-3 over their last six games on the road. Kichton leads all WHL defencemen in scoring with 53 points through 43 games this season.
Wednesday’s match-up marks the second meeting of the season between the Rockets and Chiefs. Spokane is one of just two teams to beat the Rockets in Kelowna, having handed them a 6-4 loss on October 10th.
Elsewhere on Wednesday night, Mark McNeill and the Prince Albert Raiders (26-15-0-3) take on Sam Reinhart and the Kootenay Ice (18-25-1-0).
The Raiders edged the visiting Red Deer Rebels 4-3 in overtime on Saturday night for their second victory over their last three outings, and currently sit in first place in the East Division. McNeill has two goals and five points over his last two games.
The Ice managed a 4-3 win in a shootout in Saskatoon on Tuesday night for their eighth victory over their last nine games, and currently sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Reinhart hit the 20-goal mark with a tally versus the Blades on Tuesday night.
In Vancouver, B.C., Jackson Houck and the Vancouver Giants (12-32-0-0) host Michal Plutnar and the Tri-City Americans (25-16-1-2) on Wednesday evening.
The Giants snapped a four-game losing skid with a 4-3 overtime victory versus the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Saturday, but remain in 10th place in the Western Conference. Houck has three goals and four points over his last two contests.
The Americans are coming off a 6-1 victory over the Silvertips in Everett on Tuesday night for their second win in a row and third win in four games, and currently occupy fifth place in the Western Conference. Plutnar has scored in each of his last three games.
In Victoria, B.C., Steven Hodges and the Victoria Royals (22-17-1-2) host Colin Smith and the Kamloops Blazers (29-13-2-2) for the second meeting in as many nights between the B.C. Division rivals.
The Royals posted a 6-4 win over the visiting Blazers on Tuesday night for their second straight triumph, and currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. Hodges scored two goals in Tuesday’s win over the Blazers.
The Blazers fell for the third time in four games with Tuesday’s setback in Victoria, and currently sit three points back of Kelowna for first place in the B.C. Division. The Blazers’ penalty killing unit is operating at 76.9% efficiency on the road this season.