Victoria’s Matthew Smith (9) ties up the Rockets’ Carsen Twarynski in front of Royals goalie Griffen Outhouse during Saturday night Western Hockey league action in Kelowna. The Rockets used big first and third periods to score an 8-4 victory. Kevin Light/

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Kelowna opened up a 3-0 lead in the first period and added three more goals in the third en route to an 8-4 win over the visiting Victoria Royals in Western Hockey League play Saturday.

The B.C. Division-leading Rockets (29-14-2-1) extended their slim lead over the second-place Royals (27-17-3-1) to three points, while ending Victoria’s winning streak at four games.

Jack Cowell scored twice and Kole Lind tallied four points for the winners, while Matthew Phillips added to his team-leading total with three points on a goal and two assists. He now has 75 points on the season, good for fifth overall in the WHL.

With one game left in their current road swing, the Royals have gone 2-1 with wins over Vancouver and Portland. Victoria plays the Giants again in Langley on Jan. 26, followed by two straight home games against Calgary – Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday at 5:05 p.m.

After Tyler Soy’s power play marker got the Royals on the board late in the first period against Kelowna, Victoria fell behind 4-1 to start the second on a goal by Kyle Topping. But back-to-back power play goals by Phillips and Dante Hannoun made it 4-3 in a span of 1:51 later in the period.

That was as close as the visitors would get, as Leif Mattson scored shorthanded for the Rockets to make it 5-3 in the dying minutes. Cowell and Carsen Twarynski scored in the first minute of the third to make it 7-3 Kelowna. After Cowell tallied into the empty net with five and a half minutes left, Igor Martynov scored on a penalty shot for the Royals.

Kelowna outshot Victoria 42-27 overall.

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