The Kelowna Rockets came out firing on all cylinders Friday night in their first pre-season game of the year.
In a 4-0 victory over the Victoria Royals, both the young returning Rockets players, draft picks and prospects got a solid look in the first WHL action of the year.
Returning forward Alex Swetlikoff opened the scoring for the Rockets in the first period. Swetlikoff had a slow start in his inaugural year with the Rockets last season after getting picked up out of the BCHL, but the hard-hitting forward finished with 14 points in 32 games last year, and will be an essential depth player for Kelowna this year.
Young Rockets star Trevor Wong was back on the ice in Kelowna colours Friday night. The 16-year-old played in four games last season and notched one goal. Wong had a quiet start to the pre-season against Victoria with just two shots on goal and a penalty.
Cole Schwebius got the start for the Rockets. Schwebius was acquired in a trade at the bantam draft in May. The former Seattle Thunderbird stopped all nine shots he faced in his first game with the Rockets. 17-year-old Cole Tisdale replaced Schwebius halfway through the second period and stopped all five shots he faced.
Though both teams elected to test out some of their young prospects, it was Kelowna’s depth that shined through. A total of eight 2004-born players dressed between both teams Friday night. Rockets’ prospects Nolan Flamand, John Babcock and Rilen Kovacevic got their first look at what playing in Prospera Place will look and feel like.
Kelowna’s Elias Carmichael, Dallon Wilton and Kyle Crosbie added the additional goals for the Rockets. Babcock notched is first WHL point with an assist on Swetlikoff’s game-winning goal.
Kelowna continues their pre-season in Kamloops on Sunday to take on the Blazers. It’s the second of five pre-season games leading into the home-opener on Sept. 21.
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