Newly acquired forward Gage Quinney recorded the winner as the Kelowna Rockets doubled the host Medicine Hat Tigers 4-2 in Western Hockey League play Friday night.
Quinney, a Las Vegas product acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders, scored his first goal as a Rocket, and seventh the season, midway through the third period to help the league-leading Rockets improve to 26-4-3-0. They are six points clear of the Brandon Wheat Kings (23-7-2-1).
Kelowna’s Tyson Baillie had a pair of goals to give him 20 on the season, while Justin Kirkland scored his 10th. Jackson Whistle earned the win as the Tigers outshot Kelowna 34-27.
Mark Rassell and Vernon’s Cole Sanford supplied Medicine Hat’s goals. The Central Division-leading Tigers are 22-8-1-1.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Sanford is fourth in league scoring with 21 goals and 44 points in 32 games.
Kelowna continues its four-game Alberta road trip today against the Calgary Hitmen. They visit the Edmonton Oil Kings and Red Deer Rebels Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
The Rockets return to Prospera Place for two home games during the Christmas season, hosting Kamloops on Dec. 27 and Vancouver on Dec. 30.
Quinney was part of a major four-player deal with Prince Albert on Thursday. It included one of the league’s top defencemen in Josh Morrissey coming to Kelowna.
Heading to the Raiders are Austin Glover and Jesse Lees, as well as WHL Bantam draft picks in 2016 and 2017.
Morrissey, 19, is a first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets (13th overall in 2013) and a member of the Team Canada World Junior selection camp. He played in every game for St. Johns in the AHL playoffs last season and nearly made the Jets NHL club out of main camp this year.
“We are getting arguably the best defenceman in the WHL in Josh Morrissey,” said Rockets’ GM Bruce Hamilton. “He’s been playing very well for Prince Albert and he made a strong point in Winnipeg’s training camp this year.
“I think we’ve done something very good for our hockey club. We’ve lost a couple of really good players in the deal, but I just thought we needed to add something to our young defence.”
Morrissey was the second-highest scoring defenceman in the Dub last season when he had 28 goals, 45 assists and 73 points in 59 games with Prince Albert. He has seven goals and 14 assists in 26 games so far this season. He is the older brother of Rockets’ backup goalie Jake Morrissey.
Quinney, 19, had six goals and nine assists in 31 games with the Raiders.
“We don’t make a lot of trades and when this came up we knew we would have to give up good players,” said Hamilton “We gave up two high quality players and people in Jesse and Austin. I think they are going to a team that will be very competitive and they are counting on them to go in and help bolster the lineup.”