Kelowna Rockets eyeing back-to-back wins over Victoria Royals

The Kelowna Rockets are eyeing a sweep of Victoria this evening after posting a 5-2 win over the Royals on Monday.

On Family Day, the Rockets broke open a 2-2 game by scoring three unanswered goals in the final half of the third period. Lassi Thomson, Schael Higson, Kyle Topping, Mark Liwiski and Conner Bruggen-Cate scored for Kelowna (24-28-4-1), which led 1-0 and 2-1 at the period breaks.

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Kody McDonald and Kaid Oliver replied for Victoria (29-24-1-2), which was outshot 32-28. Notably, the Royals are 5-4-0-1 in their past 10 games while the Rockets are 5-4-1-0.

The two B.C. rivals will meet Tuesday night for the eighth time this season. Kelowna is 5-2 against Victoria this season, including a perfect 3-0 on Vancouver Island. The Rockets are 2-2 when the Royals visit Prospera Place.

In B.C. Division standings, Vancouver (39-14-2-1) leads the five-team pack with 81 points. Victoria is second with 61 while Kelowna is third with 53. Kamloops (22-28-4-1) is fourth with 49 while Prince George (16-34-4-3) is last with 39.

On Monday, Thomson, in his rookie season, opened the scoring at 9:04 of the first period with his 16th goal of the season.

The Royals answered with a power-play goal, McDonald with his 16th goal of the season at the 4:20 of the second.

Eleven minutes later, Rockets defenceman Schael Higson, playing in his 300th WHL game, restored Kelowna’s lead at 15:32 with his fourth of the season.

In the third, the Royals levelled the score at 2-2 when Oliver netted his 25th of the season at 8:33.

After that, though, the Rockets took over, scoring three unanswered goals. Topping, with his 21st goal of the season, netted what stood up as the game winner at 10:07. Liwiski, at 16:32, and Bruggen-Cate, at 17:53, added insurance markers.

James Porter stopped 26 shots for Kelowna, as his record improved to 7-12-2-1. Brock Gould made 27 saves for Victoria. The Rockets were 0-for-3 on the power play while the Royals were 1-for-4. The attendance was 5,198.

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Kelowna Rockets shut out by visiting Vancouver Giants at Prospera Place

The Kelowna Rockets were shut out by the visiting Vancouver Giants in WHL action at Prospera Place on Saturday night.

The Giants won 2-0 thanks to goals from Jared Dmytriw and David Tendeck.

Kelowna goalie Roman Basran was named the third star of the game for keeping the team in contention, turning away 26 of the 24 shots he faced.

The loss extends the Rockets’ losing streak to two games.

Watch: Kelowna Rocket defenceman Lassi Thomson ranked 14th overall by NHL Central Scouting

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On Friday, the visiting Everett Silvertips bested the Rockets 3-1.

Both the Vancouver Giants and Everett Silvertips have clinched playoff births.

Kelowna is headed to Vancouver Island for a double-header on Monday and Tuesday against the Victoria Royals.

The Rockets are back on home ice on Saturday, Feb. 23 against their regional rival, the Kamloops Blazers.

With only 12 games left in their regular season, the Rockets are sitting in the third and final playoff spot in the B.C. Division.

If they fall out of third place, they’ll have to battle it out for the two Western Conference Wild Card playoff berths.

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Olympic hockey star responds to 4-year-old girl inspired by her historic NHL All-Star performance

After a young Canadian girl saw professional hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield stun in the NHL skills competition, it inspired her to do a little on-ice drill of her own.

The Olympic gold medalist saw a video of 4-year-old Demie Latham attempt to break Coyne Schofield’s skating time and thought it was “amazing.”

The Team USA star recently made history as the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 26 and skated around the entire perimeter of the ice in 14.3 seconds.

Video showed the young skater taking off on a frozen pond turned makeshift hockey rink, circling past the first small net followed by the second, and returns to her starting point “without falling,” she exclaimed in the video.

Demie’s mom, Catherine Lathem, posted the video accompanied with the hashtags “skate like a girl,” “hockey” and “girls can do anything.”

The video quickly garnered over 100,000 views, including by Coyne Schofield herself.

“Amazing! You can’t be what you can’t see…Keep up the great work Demie” she said on Twitter.

Lathem told ABC News she thinks her daughter was “a little overwhelmed by all the attention” and hailed the hockey star for her response.

“It was very kind of Kendall to reach out and respond. She is an absolute class act and a role model,” Lathem said.

The young girl’s mom also applauded the NHL for the impact its inclusion of women has had on young girls.

“I praise the NHL for showcasing women, it’s very clear to see what kind of impact it has had on girls, and on our daughter,” she said. “Demie hopes to start playing hockey next year.”

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Calgary Flames lose 4-3 to Ovechkin-less Washington Capitals

No one man can possibly replace Alex Ovechkin for the Washington Capitals. So, forced to play without their captain and leading scorer, the defending Stanley Cup champions used contributions from just about everyone to make up the difference.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a power-play goal with 57 seconds left, and Washington shook off the absence of its finest player to end a seven-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.

Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 37 goals, received a one-game suspension from the league for skipping the All-Star Game. He had played in 214 consecutive games, a streak that began in October 2016.

Facing the best team in the Western Conference, the Capitals also had to overcome a lower-body injury to centre Lars Eller, who played only six minutes. Undaunted, Washington got goals from unheralded role players Nic Dowd and Dmitrij Jaskin, along with Tom Wilson, before Kuznetsov notched the game winner.

Without Ovechkin, the NHL’s 10th-ranked power play unit was 0 for 3 until Kuznetsov connected.

“We knew that there was going to be an opportunity for some guys with Ovechkin out of the lineup,” coach Todd Reirden said. “It was a big team effort from top to bottom.”

With Calgary’s Mikael Backlund off for holding, Kuznetsov weaved his way into the Flames’ zone before firing a wrist shot past goaltender Mike Smith.

“I was just in a bad position to pass the puck,” Kuznetsov said. “So I decided to shoot.”

An instant after the final horn sounded, several players traded punches before finally skating off the ice.

“There was a lot of emotion on both sides. Two good teams that want to win,” Wilson said. “We were playing hard right until the end there and it’s loud. We were doing whatever it took to get the job done. That includes defending each other and sticking together at the end.”

It was the first of six straight home games for the Capitals, who hope to get back on track after their longest losing streak since 2013-14 dropped them behind the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division.

“We’re looking forward. We’re not looking back,” Wilson said. “That was a good team effort tonight. Pretty fun to go out that way at the end. Guys are happy.”

Calgary trailed 3-2 before Elias Lindholm notched his 22nd goal of the season at 12:01 of the third period. Lindholm eluded Capitals defenceman Michal Kempny to get free in front of the net, where he deflected a shot by Johnny Gaudreau into the net.

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Calgary Flames’ 2018-19 season.

Backlund and Garnet Hathaway also scored for the Flames, who came in with the second-best record in the NHL. It was Calgary’s first defeat in regulation since Jan. 3, and it ended a run of nine straight games with at least one point.

“They were a little more desperate than us, a little hungrier early,” coach Bill Peters said. “We got better as it went along.”

Dowd opened the scoring with three minutes elapsed, deflecting a shot by John Carlson past the screened Smith.

Backlund tied it with at 17:37 of the first period, zig-zagging past defenceman Jonas Siegenthaler after two Capitals got tangled up in the neutral zone. Less than two minutes later, Jaskin tapped in a rebound for Washington.

Wilson made it 3-1 with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle in the opening minute of the second period, and Hathaway quickly answered for the Flames.

Smith finished with 36 saves, but it wasn’t good enough.

“Anytime you lose a game with less than a minute left, it stings,” he said. “It definitely hurts after coming back and making a game of it.”

NOTES: Calgary D Travis Hamonic left with a lower-body injury. … Carlson extended his point-scoring streak to four games and reached 40 assists in a second straight season for the first time in his career. … Ovechkin will have to wait until Sunday for the opportunity to pass retired Sergei Fedorov as the highest scoring Russian-born player in NHL history. Both have 1,179 career points. … Calgary has scored an NHL-best 81 goals in the third-period and remains plus-39 in the period. … Washington was outscored 36-18 during its skid. The last time the Capitals lost eight in a row was in December 2010.

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Junior hockey: Rockets fall in overtime to Thunderbirds

Henrik Rybinski scored two minutes in overtime for Seattle as the Thunderbirds rallied to defeat the Kelowna Rockets 3-2 on Wednesday evening.

Matthew Wedman and Tyrel Bauer also scored for Seattle (19-22-5-1, 44 points). The T-Birds trailed 1-0 and 2-1 but tied the game twice with two late goals. Wedman scored at 19:06 of the first period to make it 1-1, with Bauer levelling the score at 2-2 at 19:15 of the second.

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Mark Liwiski, who opened the scoring at 8:03 of the first, and Kyle Crosbie, with a shorthanded marker at 15:02 of the second, replied for Kelowna (20-24-4-1, 45 points). The Rockets were outshot 38-28.

The third period was scoreless, with Seattle outshooting Kelowna 12-8. In overtime, the shots were 3-1 for the Thunderbirds.

Roman Basran (14-14-2-0) stopped 35 shots for the Rockets while Roddy Ross (6-1-0-1) kicked aside 26 shots for the Thunderbirds.

Both teams were 0-for-3 on the power play. The attendance was 4,690.

In other WHL action on Wednesday night, Spokane clubbed Portland 7-2. The Winterhawks (30-14-3-2, 65 pts.) were outshot 47-21.

Spokane (25-17-2-3, 55 pts.) outshot Portland 16-7 in the first, 16-8 in the second and 15-6 in the third.

Spokane was 3-for-7 on the power play. Riley Woods had a five-point night for the Chiefs with a goal and four assists.

On Friday, Kelowna visits Spokane. Game time at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena is 7:05 p.m.

On Saturday, the Rockets will host the Kamloops Blazers (19-25-3-1, 42 pts.).

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Mika Zibanejad hat trick powers Rangers past rival Devils

No, there was no guarantee. And this was hardly Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals 25 years ago.

But Mika Zibanejad did his best Mark Messier impersonation, completing the first hat trick for a Ranger in New Jersey since the captain’s epic 1994 playoff performance, this one resulting in a mid-winter 4-3 victory over the Devils on Thursday night in Newark.

Rather than finishing it off into the empty net and moving on to win the franchise’s only Stanley Cup since 1940 — like Messier — Zibanejad’s third goal broke a tie with just 4:36 remaining in regulation, a highlight-reel move when he took a great pass off the wall from Mats Zuccarello and then went forehand-to-backhand twice in the blink of an eye, roofing it for the game-winner.

“I just looked up on the time to see how much time was left, hoping it was like a minute left so we could just kill the game,” said Zibanejad, who now has 20 goals on the season. “It’s nice to be able to contribute, and it’s nice to have Zucc back again.”

The top line, with Chris Kreider on the left, was back together again after a foot infection had kept Zuccarello from playing the first game back after the break, a 1-0 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday night. But they were flying around in this one, combining for eight points.

When all three are together, they now have 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in the past six games, and 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in the past four games.

“They certainly were dominant tonight, and they have been for a while,” coach David Quinn said. “All three of those guys are playing on an extremely high level. It’s nice to see.”

As an organization, the Rangers (22-21-7) are happy to see Zibanejad play so well, eight goals in his past five games that paint him as that coveted top-line center. It also helps that a healthy Zuccarello is again playing with some jump, the free-agent-to-be’s trade value before the Feb. 25 deadline increasing with each of his now 12 points in his past six games.

It just might be a little tough for his teammates to see Zuccarello on his way out the door, none more than Zibanejad, his good buddy and recipient of some of those great passes.

“We’ve seen the chemistry before, and we saw it again tonight,” Zibanejad said. “It’s a fun line to play with. We’re playing, I would say, fun hockey.”

On nights like this, it’s possible for the Blueshirts to have the optimistic view, winners of four of their past five and five of their past seven, bridging the 10-day break that encompassed the bye week and the All-Star Game. But general manager Jeff Gorton is not going to break from script when it comes to this rebuild. It’s just that performances like this will make the final two-plus months of the season quite a bit more tolerable — and definitely a better developmental ground for some of the young players as opposed to losing every night.

“We can’t look at the standings every night,” said goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made 19 saves in his first start back after the All-Star weekend in San Jose, none better than the right-pad stop on Kevin Rooney with about three minutes remaining in regulation to preserve the one-goal lead. “We just have to look at every game like an opportunity to improve ourselves, and then we’ll see where we end up.”

The teams traded two power-play goals apiece in the first two periods, with the Devils (19-24-7) going up 2-0 on tallies from Nico Hischier and Marcus Johansson before Zibanejad got his first with just 1.8 seconds remaining in the first period, the next at 16:36 of the second period to tie it, 2-2.

Goals from Kreider and Egor Yakovlev in the third made it 3-3 before Zibanejad went all Messier on everyone.

“We talked about how when goals come, they come in flurries,” Quinn said. “They’re coming in a snowstorm rate right now for him, which is good for us.”

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Junior hockey: Rockets fall in overtime to Thunderbirds

Henrik Rybinski scored two minutes in overtime for Seattle as the Thunderbirds rallied to defeat the Kelowna Rockets 3-2 on Wednesday evening.

Matthew Wedman and Tyrel Bauer also scored for Seattle (19-22-5-1, 44 points). The T-Birds trailed 1-0 and 2-1 but tied the game twice with two late goals. Wedman scored at 19:06 of the first period to make it 1-1, with Bauer levelling the score at 2-2 at 19:15 of the second.

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Mark Liwiski, who opened the scoring at 8:03 of the first, and Kyle Crosbie, with a shorthanded marker at 15:02 of the second, replied for Kelowna (20-24-4-1, 45 points). The Rockets were outshot 38-28.

The third period was scoreless, with Seattle outshooting Kelowna 12-8. In overtime, the shots were 3-1 for the Thunderbirds.

Roman Basran (14-14-2-0) stopped 35 shots for the Rockets while Roddy Ross (6-1-0-1) kicked aside 26 shots for the Thunderbirds.

Both teams were 0-for-3 on the power play. The attendance was 4,690.

In other WHL action on Wednesday night, Spokane clubbed Portland 7-2. The Winterhawks (30-14-3-2, 65 pts.) were outshot 47-21.

Spokane (25-17-2-3, 55 pts.) outshot Portland 16-7 in the first, 16-8 in the second and 15-6 in the third.

Spokane was 3-for-7 on the power play. Riley Woods had a five-point night for the Chiefs with a goal and four assists.

On Friday, Kelowna visits Spokane. Game time at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena is 7:05 p.m.

On Saturday, the Rockets will host the Kamloops Blazers (19-25-3-1, 42 pts.).

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Winnipeg Jets recall defenceman Sami Niku from AHL Moose

The Winnipeg Jets recalled defenceman Sami Niku from the Manitoba Moose on Sunday.

Niku, 22, has two assists in 10 games for the Jets this season after making his debut last year.

He collected both of his assists on Jan. 17 in a 5-1 win against the Nashville Predators.

Niku has played 19 games for the Moose this season, registering three goals and nine assists.

Niku was drafted by the Jets in the seventh round (198th overall) in the 2015 NHL draft.

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College hockey: How to watch No. 2 UMass vs. Maine games on CBS Sports Digital

At 18-4-2, UMass currently finds itself No. 2 in the country behind St. Cloud State University. The team just dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 this week, and it will be fighting to get that top spot back. UMass is first in the Hockey East conference, which is incredibly competitive with teams like Northeastern and Boston College right behind them.

Maine is currently eighth in Hockey East, but it will have a back-to-back games against UMass to help its cause. Maine is 8-11-3 and 4-5-3 in the conference, whereas UMass is 10-2 with 20 points within the conference.

It’s a tall task for Maine, but it will be hosting both games. UMass is coming off of a split home and home with No. 8 Northeastern, and next week it will have another home and home against Boston University.

UMass is 7-3 on the road vs. 11-1 at home, so Maine does have that edge. The question is whether or not it will be enough against the No. 2 team in the country.

Here’s how to watch UMass vs. Maine in a double feature.

No. 2 UMass vs. Maine

  • Dates: Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26
  • Times: 7:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Location: Orono, Maine
  • Stream: SportsLive (Friday) (Saturday)

The SportsLive streaming service, powered by the CBS Interactive Advanced Media division of CBS Sports Digital, gives subscribers unlimited access to thousands of live events and on-demand videos across high school, college and professional sports. SportsLive features over 30,000 live streams per year, including coverage of hundreds of colleges and universities from all divisions and across the entire country, competing in a variety of sports.  

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Streaking into break: Rangers get Quinn a win in Boston return

BOSTON — There was no shying away from David Quinn, who said when the schedule came out for his first season behind the Rangers bench, this was a game he circled.

And Quinn’s return to Boston was a successful one, his team taking a heartening 3-2 victory over the Bruins on Saturday night.

It was also the final game before a nine-day break that encompasses the bye week and the All-Star Game, which made its importance even greater for the psyche of a young Blueshirts team that has already been through a lot.

“The one thing that is different is we have to live with this result for 10 days,” Quinn said before the game. “Usually, if you have a tough night, you have a chance to recover quickly. We’re not going to have that. So our guys are certainly aware of that and we want to build on the things we’ve been doing.”

The Rangers (21-20-7) were actually pretty happy about their recent play, having won two in a row and three of their past four which followed a brutal five-game losing streak. It happens that the one loss in there was a real dud, a 7-5 defeat in Columbus that might have been a low point of Quinn’s early tenure.

The Bruins (27-17-5) had been going through a bit of a rough patch, 2-2-1 in their previous five and also going into their bye week. But with three of Quinn’s former players in Boston’s lineup — Charlie McAvoy, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (known as JFK), and Matt Grzelcyk — it was still a special game.

“Coaching college hockey is unique,” Quinn said. “The relationships you build and rear and lifelong. Those guys are friends of mine. I follow them closely. It’s going to be little different, but I think once the game gets going, you put all that past you.”

The game was going pretty well for the Rangers by the time they started the third period up, 2-1. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist was starting his third straight game in the lead-up to the break, and he had been solid in making 15 saves to that point.

But Lundqvist had nowhere to go with the puck when he played it behind his net early in the third, and that resulted in a Brad Marchand goal at 3:24 that tied it up. The Blueshirts then got a little lucky when Boston captain Zdeno Chara took a delay-of-game penalty, and Mika Zibanejad was able to score on a power-play snipe from the left circle to give his team a 3-2 lead at 9:05.

It was Zibanejad’s second of the game and his fifth in the past three games, and after some contentious moments in the final few minutes of regulation, it eventually stood up as the game-winner.

The game had started with the Rangers struggling to gain any traction by taking two penalties in the first 6:19. But they managed to kill both of them, with a couple good saves from Lundqvist. There wasn’t a lot he could do when Danton Heinen got a good look from the right post and flicked it into the far side of the net at 17:28 for a 1-0 lead.

But it didn’t last very long, as Rangers rookie Filip Chytil scored almost an identical goal to one he scored in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Blackhawks at the Garden. He flew up the right wing, left a flat-footed defender in the dust — this time, David Pastrnak — then roofed a shot from close quarters at 18:32, tying it 1-1.

After the puck went in, Chytil was shoved by McAvoy and he went barreling into Tuukka Rask, giving the Boston netminder a concussion and bringing in former Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak as a replacement.

But Halak couldn’t stop the hot streak of the Rangers’ top line, Zibanejad getting his first of the night on a deft tip at 5:42 of the second period to give his team a 2-1 lead going into the third.

“That’s the way it’s been going now, and that’s one of our main focuses, contributing offensively,” Zibanejad said. “It’s working out right now, so we just have to stick to it.”

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