WHL notes: Kelowna rockets to the top
The honor was held by the Spokane Chiefs when they started the Western Hockey League season 10-2.
The Portland Winter- hawks took it away from the Chiefs by winning 11 consecutive games.
Now the Kelowna Rockets boast the best winning percentage in the league.
Kelowna (14-2-0-2, 30 points) has won seven consecutive games and nine of 10 to improve its winning percentage to .833.
Win No. 7 came Saturday night, 2-0 over the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Rockets have defeated both of last season’s WHL finalists, Edmonton and Portland.
“We are getting better and that’s a really positive thing that’s happening,” Rockets coach Ryan Huska told Warren Henderson of the Kelowna (British Columbia) Capital News. “We are seeing improvement in areas we’ve asked our players to focus on, so that leaves you with a good feeling. We still have areas of development we need to work on, but we like a lot of what we see.”
Kelowna goalie Jordon Cooke leads the league in goals-against average (2.03) and is second in save percentage at .932. The Rockets have allowed two goals or less in nine of their last 10 games.
Before the Rockets’ hot streak, the Chiefs defeated them 6-3 on Oct. 8 at the Arena.
Kelowna has played the fewest games in the league and has had 11 at home. Nine of the Rockets’ next 15 games will be on the road, but their next game is Saturday at home against Eastern Conference co-leader Medicine Hat (13-3-3-0, 29 points).
Ready for spotlight
Prized prospect Tyler Benson is scheduled to make his debut with the Vancouver Giants Saturday, when the Tri-City Americans come to town.
Benson, 15, a left winger who was the top pick in last May’s WHL bantam draft, can play five games with the Giants as an underage call-up until his midget team in Kelowna has finished its playoffs.
After that, he can be a full-time member of the Giants.
Around the league
Jujhar Khaira celebrated his return to Everett’s lineup Monday by setting up the winning goal in overtime during a 4-3 home victory over Vancouver. Khaira, 19, missed 10 games with an upper-body injury. … The Calgary Hitmen were rolling along until a four-game losing streak dropped them to 10-6-1-3, tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference with 24 points. Calgary has been held to six goals during the skid. Calgary’s next game is Friday at home against Swift Current, which has moved into a tie with Medicine Hat (29 points) for first place in the conference with an eight-game winning streak.
Jake DeBrusk, the son of former Edmonton Oilers pugilist Louie DeBrusk, accounted for three assists and one goal during a span of 7 minutes last Friday as Swift Current posted a 6-3 win at Brandon. … Edmonton’s Tristan Jarry was named Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Week for the week ending Sunday after posting two shutouts and a goals-against-average of 0.67. … Saskatoon Blades right winger Brett Stovin has five goals and two assists this month. … The Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday promoted Shaun Sutter from senior scout to assistant general manager/director of player personnel.