Rockets takeoff delayed

A five-minute charging major and a game misconduct to Dillon Dube late in the middle frame turned around the fortunes of the Kelowna Rockets Thursday.

The Tri-City Americans connected twice on the ensuing power play and shortly after on another man advantage in a 5-0 victory to open their best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series.

With the Rockets enjoying a late power play, Dube beat defenceman Jake Bean wide and cut hard to the net. Dube was cutting toward the crease when Bean cross-checked the Rockets forward into goaltender Patrick Dea.

Both went down hard. Dube was assessed the penalty, much to the displeasure of the more than 5,100 fans in attendance.

"Obviously, it changed the momentum in the game. The refs made the call based on what they saw. The rule is what it is. We did some good things on that PK but one mistake turned into three and the puck ended up in our net," said Rockets head coach Jason Smith.

"I know he didn't go to the net with the intention of hitting the goaltender, that's for sure. We're past that, and we're moving on"

The Rockets came out quick, and were unlucky not to get at least one puck past Dea in the opening 20 minutes. They buzzed around the Tri-City net for much of the first period, peppering Dea with 19 shots, but couldn't find a way past the St. Albert, Alta. native.

I think we did some good things in the game. I think we got out battled and out playoffed (sic) in a playoff hockey game, with them blocking shocks and them winning faceoffs, and them getting to our net better than we got to their net."

It was the Americans who got on the board against the run of the play.

Following the media time-out, the Americans won a faceoff in Kelowna's end, got the puck to the front of the net and, after a wild scramble around James Porter, Morgan Geekie pounced on a loose puck, spun, and fired a shot that beat the Rocket netminder five-hole.

Another faceoff win five minutes into the second resulted in the 2-0 goal. Nolan Yaremko won the draw cleanly to Isaac Johnson, but cut towards the slot and bet a screened Porter to the far side.

Power play goals by Geekie and a pair from Michael Rasmussen closed out the scoring in the third.

Rockets captain Cal Foote said the Rockets did some good things, especially during a lively opening 20 minutes.

But, he admitted the team needs to find a way to get more traffic in front of Dea as the series moves on.

"We're going to need to get in this guy's face. We're going to want to make sure we're in front and not let him see all the pucks we're firing at him.

"It just have to find a way to finish it off."

Thanks to the hot start, the Rockets ended up the night outshooting Tri-City 39-32.

The Rockets were shutout on the power play going 0-4, while the Ams scored three times on five opportunities.

The teams get a day to rest as Hedley takes over Prospera Place Friday. The second game in the series is set for Saturday before heading south to Kennewick, WA for games three and four next Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday's late afternoon rain storm caused a few problems inside Prospera Place. Several buckets were seen inside the building catching water drops from a leak in the roof.

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