The Kelowna Rockets are stingier than The Grinch at Christmas.
The B.C. Division-leading Rockets limited the Tri-City Americans to just 19 shots on goal en route to a 4-1 win before a Friday night crowd of 4,118 at Toyota Center.
“They controlled the game from start to finish,” said Americans coach Jim Hiller. “We need to be more opportunistic, but we didn’t finish. This doesn’t feel good for anyone.”
Rookie Evan Sarthou finished with 42 saves for the Americans (14-11-0-2), who saw their six-game home win streak come to an end.
“Sarts gave us a chance,” Hiller said. “They had chances, but not a lot of second chances.”
At the other end, Jordan Cooke had a relatively quiet night with 18 saves as the Rockets improved to 17-3-0-2.
“I thought we played well tonight. It was a good response game,” said Kelowna coach Ryan Huska, whose team lost to Victoria 4-1 on Wednesday. “When we skate, things happen. We had chances, but their goalie played really well.”
Holding a 2-0 lead since the middle of the first period, the Rockets added to their lead early in the third as Madison Bowey fired a bullet from the point that flew past Sarthou for his second goal of the night at 5:27.
“I didn’t see that until it was at my shoulder,” Sarthou said of Bowey’s shot. “They have great shots and they will make you pay.”
The Americans looked to cut into the Rockets’ lead at 7:07 as Riley Hillis’ shot was stopped by Cooke, who then dropped the puck and it ended up in the net.
Under review, the whistle had blown.
Tri-City pulled Sarthou with just under 7 minutes left to play, but the only goal was a short-handed, empty-netter by Cole Linaker for a 4-0 Kelowna advantage.
On the tail end of the power play, Brian Williams rang the puck off the cross bar and into the net for his 20th goal and a 4-1 game.
The Americans’ penalty skill stifled the Rockets’ power play midway through the first period, but just as soon as the teams were back to full strength,
Kelowna’s Damon Severson sent the puck from the left point to the front of the net, where Rourke Chartier redirected the puck between Evan Sarthou’s pads at 11:16 to open the scoring.
Just 1:14 later, Sarthou stopped Kris Schmidli on a 2-on-2 breakaway, but the rebound went to the opposite side of the net, where Bowey banged the puck in for a 2-0 lead.
The Americans had seven shots on goal in the first, along with shots off the pipe by Devon McAndrews and Mitch Topping.
“Kelowna played really well defensively,” Sarthou said. “We didn’t get many chances.”
A scoreless second period had Kelowna with one power play and an impressive blocked shot by Tri-City’s Marcus Messier, who manned up and stopped a slap shot by Myles Bell, who has one of the hardest shots in the league.Notes: Americans F Jessey Astles was suspended by the WHL for two games for a charging major, game misconduct and for being a repeat offender against Vancouver on Tuesday. Astles has five fights and 42 penalty minutes this season. ... With an assist on Chartier’s goal, Damon Severson recorded his 99th career assist.