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Winterhawks flex their mighty muscles

This time there would be no comeback - this time it wasn't even close.

The Portland Winterhawks dominated the Kelowna Rockets from start to finish Saturday in a convincing 5-1 victory.

As they did Friday Portland got on the board early and built up a sizable lead.

Unlike Friday the Rockets would not mount a comeback - in fact, they didn't put up much of a fight at all throughout the balance of the contest.

Scouts who have followed the Winterhawks thought Saturday was the best they had seen the team play all season long.

"We've had some games this year where we we okay and still won. We've been looking forward to this match up for a while because we knew the compete level would have to be high or we wouldn't get the result we needed," says Portland head coach Travis Green.

"We knew they needed to come out and establish a strong game right from the get-go and our compete level was high tonight. It was good to see - it was as close to a playoff compete level as you are going to see."

The Winterhawks top line of Nic Petan, Ty Rattie and Brendan Leipsic showed why they are arguably the number one line in the Western Hockey League.

The trio accounted for all five Winterhawk goals.

Petan picked up the natural hat trick scoring the first three of the contest. Rattie had a goal and three assists while Leipsic chipped in with a goal and two assists. 

"Last night they weren't great. They had a real rough first period and they answered the bell tonight," says Green.

"They responded with a real good game and that's what good players do."

The Winterhawks got on the board 1:21 in when Petan's shot from a sharp angle managed to squeeze through Jordon Cooke and into the net.

Rockets head coach Ryan Huska says that early goal deflated his club.

"We looked very lethargic right from the start of the game and when that goal went in early it was not a good goal to give up. I thought it kind of deflated us a bit and gave them more energy," says Huska.

"From that point on I thought they were doing all the skating and we were doing all the watching."

Petan doubled the lead 12 minutes later when he converted a two-on-one with Rattie while the Rockets were on a power-play.

He completed the hat trick 64 seconds into the second when he made a couple of nice moves down low before beating Cooke to up the lead to 3-0.

Rattie on a power-play midway through the second and Leipsic on  a breakaway upped the margin to 5-0 after the second.

Colton Sissons ruined Mac Carruth's shutout bid 13 minutes into the third when he tapped in a smooth feed from Zach Franko on the back end of a two-on-one.

Cooke turned aside 18 shots over 40 minutes before being relieved by Jackson Whistle to start the third.

Whistle made a spectacular glove save off Leipsic seconds into the third period prompting the loudest ovation of the night from the crowd of more than 6,000.

Whistle will get the start in goal Sunday when the Rockets look to get back on the winning track when they complete a three game weekend in Everett.

After winning 23 straight on home ice the Rockets have now dropped two in a row and three straight overall It's the first time the Rockets have dropped three straight in regulation time all season.

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