The Okanagan Rockets stumbled out of the gate on Boxing Day at the Mac's as they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Alberta leading Calgary Buffaloes before a sizeable crowd at Max Bell Arena.
The Rockets simply had no answer for Victoria Royals draft pick Matthew Phillips who posted 3 of the "Buffs" 5 markers. Phillips, a 16 year old forward would remind many Rockets fans of alumni Liam Finlay. Phillips is listed at just 5' 7" and tips the scales at 140 pounds.
The Rockets actually opened the scoring as defenceman Carter Rhine snuck a seeing eye point shot to the back of the net just before the half way mark of the opening period.
After that it was all Buffaloes as they would score the games next 4 goals to take control.
Nolan Kneen offered a glimpse of hope with just under 5 minutes to go in the 3rd period as he unleashed a big league blast that found the back of the net to make it 4-2. Phillips however would complete the hat-trick with a short handed beauty to put the game away for Calgary just a couple of minutes later.
The Rockets power play was a dismal 0-9 and came up empty on a pair of lengthy 5 on 3 chances.
"When the power play isn't willing to out work the penalty kill, you can't expect results" said a disappointed head coach Simon Ferguson. "Calgary did their best to let us back into the game, but didn't take advantage, we have to have a short memory on this one and come out with a better effort against the California club tomorrow."
Jordan Reynolds was tremendous in goal for the Rockets and made several eye popping saves to keep the Rockets in the hockey game. In total the Rockets were outshot 37-19 in the game, including 15-4 in the opening period.
The Rockets will face the Ontario Avalanche tomorrow morning at 10:45 am Pacific Time at Father David Bauer Arena. The Avs dropped a 5-4 decision to the Regina Pat Canadians earlier in the day.