Junior hockey: Rockets get revenge over Blazers in preseason home-opener

A round-up of junior hockey results from teams in the Okanagan and area.


Kelowna 4, Kamloops 2

After falling to the Kamloops Blazers on the road in their first taste of preseason action on Friday night, the Kelowna Rockets quickly earned their revenge on Saturday, this time in front of their home crowd.

It was almost as if someone flipped the script. On Friday, it was the Blazers who were victorious over the Rockets 4-2, but just 24 hours later, it would be the Rocket who put up four goals, and the Blazers, two.

The win marks Kelowna’s first of the 2023/24 preseason, in what was a big night for a pair of veterans. Max Graham and John Babcock both had three points on the night, while netminders Nathan Kam and Jari Kykkanen split time in the crease.

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The Rockets jumped out to a two goal lead courtesy of Max Graham and Logan Peskett, before Blazers’ forward Shea Van Olm would cut the deficit in half on the powerplay in the second frame. In the third period, Lake Country, B.C. product Tij Iginla would restore the two-goal lead for the Rockets on the powerplay. As it would stand, Iginla’s tally was the eventual game-winning goal.

Rockets defensemen John Babcock would add another insurance marker to make it a 4-1 game, but Van Olm would double down for his second of the night just over three minutes later to pull the Blazers within two goals.

Kelowna’s next game is Friday, September 15 when they host the Vancouver Giants, while Kamloops hosts the Victoria Royals that same night.

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Vernon 3, Salmon Arm 0

In Vernon, the Vipers blanked the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the second time in as many nights to start off the preseason.

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Midway through the first frame, Vipers forward Julian Facchinelli would open the scoring with an even-strength goal, his first tally of the preseason. Then, just over a minute into the second period, Liam Payne would bury a powerplay goal to put the home team up 2-0.

In the final period, with just under six minutes remaining in regulation time, Erik Pastro would seal the deal, putting the Vipers up 3-0. The Vipers improved to a 3 and 0 record in exhibition, while the Silverbacks still search for their first preseason victory after dropping their first two games.

Penticton 3, Chilliwack 1

In Chilliwack, it was the visiting Penticton Vees who came away victorious, after taking a 3-1 decision over the Chiefs.

Neither team could find the back of the net in the first period, but in the second, Chiefs defenseman Brian Morse did just that on the powerplay. The Vees would remain scoreless until just 9:20 remained on the clock in the third period, thanks to a goal Jake Bakker to even things up.

Less than three minutes later, Connor MacPherson would strike with the go-ahead goal for the Vees, before they would eventually add an empty netter. Vees goaltender Andrew Ness turned aside 18 of 19 shots he faced, as Penticton improved to 2 and 0 in exhibition.

West Kelowna 5, Merritt 2

In Merrit, the West Kelowna Warriors knocked off the Centennials for the second time in as many nights.

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In those two contests, the Warriors have totaled 11 goals. In Saturday night’s affair, the visitors managed to score three goals in the first period. Less than a minute into the second, the Centennials scored to make it a 3-1 contest courtesy of Jacob Smith scoring his first of the preseason. Both teams exchanged goals at the end of the second period, and the score was 4-2 heading into the third.

In the final minute of the final frame, Warriors forward Simon Hogue would deposit his second goal of the contest, to make it 5-2. Netminder Matthew Dellarusso stopped 26 of 28 shots he faced.

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