Mar 22, 2013 / 10:45 pm
Flat. Loose. Whatever word you want to use, the Kelowna Rockets simply weren't good enough in game one of their Western Hockey League opening round series against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds Friday.
Luke Lockhart scored the game tying goal then the winner off a scramble at 19:09 of overtime as the T-Birds upset the Rockets 5-4.
"I thought they were the hungrier team tonight and I thought that was evident for the full almost 80 minutes. They seemed to come out with a lot of puck battles and I thought they played a very good game," says Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.
"I don't think we matched the intensity we needed to have."
Huska says the Rockets gave the T-Birds far too many odd man chances off the rush.
"We didn't have enough of what we needed to be successful. We didn't have the buzz and I didn't think our forwards were committed to coming the other way as hard as they needed to."
While the mood was that of dejection in the Rockets room it was anything but down the hall around the Seattle locker room.
"We just wanted to come out and play our game tonight no matter what the score was we wanted to keep coming," says Lockhart.
"We really wanted to win when it came down to the end. In overtime we just wanted to keep chipping away and get pucks to the net. It paid off in the end."
Riley Sheen, Roberts Lipsbergs and Jesse Forsberg also scored for the T-Birds who guarantee themselves no worse than a split of the opening two games in Kelowna.
T-Birds head coach Steve Konowalchuk says he was proud of the way his team battled in game one.
“With such a tough opponent and the offence they can throw at you I thought our guys played pretty hard. To come into a building where these guys have a home record like they do and all the points they have I thought they went out and tried to play and did stand around,” says Konowalchuk.”
“That gave us a chance to win. Now we have to regroup for tomorrow.”
Damon Severson, Dylen McKinlay, Myles Bell and Tyson Baillie all scored for the Rockets who led 2-1 after one period but found themselves down 3-2 late in the middle frame.
After the T-Birds went down two men late in the second Huska called a time out to rest his power-play group.
The rest paid off as Baillie tied the score with 58 seconds left in the period.
Bell put the Rockets up one early in the third just after the T-Birds second penalty had expired as the Rockets jumped on the visitors for the first half of the period but were unable to beat Brandon Glover again in the Thunderbirds net.
Then, two lost draws in Rockets territory led to two Lockhart goals and a T-Birds upset.
“We're going to be a lot better. I think we've been playing playoff hockey for a while, that helped us a little bit,” added Konowalchuk.
“This was their first game of playoff hockey and they're not going to be happy obviously. They are going to crank it up and play a better game and we'll have to be a lot better.”
Bell who had a pair of assists to go along with his goal says the team needs to improve its compete level in game two Saturday.
“It's a long series and we have a young group in there. We're just getting the nerves out now but I think we can expect a much better effort tomorrow.
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