Being the leading scorer on a hockey team that is an all-round defensive team is a role Kelowna Rockets left winger Justin Keller just has to work with.
Last night at the John Labatt Centre, he didn't get any room to work as another top defensive team topped the Rockets 4-2 -- the London Knights.
"(The Knights) have a great defensive corps," said the 18-year-old from Summerland, B.C. "They're not that big and they move the puck well."
Keller, a left-hand shot and a power-play specialist who sets up on the right side of the faceoff dot, was stifled totally by the Knights.
Keller had just four chances on the power play last night and the London penalty kill reduced possibilities even more.
"If I get shut down on a shift I have to go out there and do better the next," he said. "I've got to find the open ice and get to the net."
But not only did the Rockets' leading offensive man get smothered, his ice time was limited as the Rockets had to kill seven penalties.
"We can't take penalties against a team like London and Rimouski," Keller said.
He wasn't sure, he said, if fatigue caused Kelowna to take seven penalties to London's four.
"We may have been physically tired but it shouldn't affect us mentally," he said.
Kelowna played a five period overtime loss to the Ottawa 67's just 24 hours earlier.
Keller compared London's defensive game to that of the rival Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. Kelowna beat out Brandon 4-1 in the Western final series to play in the Memorial Cup for the third straight year.
The team wasn't surprised at the Knights' defensive play, he said. "We knew coming in they get a great turn off the transition game with their skating and puck movement."
Prospects of defending the Cup look bleak for the Rockets, now 0-2 in the tournament.
Keller scored the Memorial Cup winning goal last year, but last night his chances were few and far between.