Conner Roulette and Berkly Catton seem to have a friendly rivalry when it comes to leading the Spokane Chiefs in goals scored this season.
The duo entered Friday night tied for the team lead with six goals apiece. Both scored against Kelowna at the Arena, but Roulette got bragging rights, for one night anyway, with three power-play goals – and four in total – that lifted the Chiefs to an 8-5 Western Hockey League win.
The win ended the Chiefs’ three-game losing streak.
“Losing three in a row is never fun, especially in this league,” Roulette said. “You gotta find ways to bounce back and as a team, that’s what we did. We had great energy all week.”
It was Roulette’s fourth career hat trick.
“Power play, you get the opportunity,” he said. “Yesterday at practice we practiced the power play, and we were tipping it around, moving the puck really well.”
“He played quite well tonight,” Chiefs coach Ryan Smith said of Roulette. “He’s playing a little more direct, shooting the puck more. He did it over the weekend…and it paid off with some goals tonight.”
Spokane ripped off three straight goals in the opening period, including two by Roulette, to seize an early lead. Catton’s goal 8½ minutes into the second period gave the Chiefs a 5-2 edge, but the Rockets made quick work of that deficit.
Kelowna’s Andrew Cristall, a Washington Capitals prospect, scored all three of his goals in the middle stanza, including a buzzer-beater with 1 second left that evened the score at 5-5. Cristall has 11 goals on the season.
“The last (goal in the second) was a little hard to swallow,” Smith said. “But we settled down and regrouped in the third.”
Roulette scored the go-ahead goal – another power play marker – midway through the third on assists from Brayden Crampton and Ty Cheveldayoff (goal, two assists). He added an empty net goal with a minute and a half left.
Goalie Cooper Michaluk made 28 saves for Spokane. The teams combined for 24 penalties – Spokane was 3 for 4 on the power play while Kelowna went 1 for 4.
“There were a lot of ups and downs, a bit of a rollercoaster,” Smith said. “When it was going well you felt really good. But similar to last weekend we sort of self-sabotaged ourselves and gave up some opportunities.”