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Blazers gain control of west semi-final

The Kelowna Rockets again find themselves firmly behind the eight ball after dropping the opening two games of a playoff series on home ice.

The Kamloops Blazers broke open a tight game with three unanswered goals in the third period en route to a 5-1 victory over the Rockets and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final with the next two games in Kamloops Tuesday and Wednesday.

Unlink Saturday's opening game the Rockets came out hard from the opening faceoff and took the game to the Blazers.

They were rewarded when Myles Bell wired home a one-timer from the left point on a Rockets power-play just 1:35 in.

They had countless opportunities after that, especially during a wild third period, but were unable to beat Cheveldave the rest of the way.

"I thought it was a better start for us for the first couple of periods - probably until they got that third goal - then I thought the wind came out of our sails a little bit," says Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.

"I really do think we were still kind of there and when their goaltender made some big saves on that power-play and then on Zach's (Franko) breakaway."

Brendan Ranford got the equalizer less than two minutes later when he muscled his way to the front of the net and powered the puck past Jordon Cooke on the Blazers first shot of the night.

Dylan Willick got what proved to be the game winner midway through the second converting a pretty three-way passing play with Ranford and JC Lipon.

Chase Souto gave the Blazers some breathing room five minutes into the third when he came off the left wing and wired a short side wrist shot past Cooke.

The goal came seconds after Cody Fowlie missed the net going the other way on a breakaway.

Kale Kessy and Aaron Macklin put an end to any thoughts of a Rockets comeback with goals late in the third.

The Rockets had their chances. Fowlie's breakaway and then, shortly after Souto made it 3-1, with the teams playing four-on-four, Cheveldave stopped Franko on another breakaway.

"You have to capitalize on your opportunities. They've been hard for us to come by, the opportunities to score like that, and we have to make sure we make do with those chances," says Huska.

Cheveldave put an exclamation point on his evening with a glove save while on his rear off Damon Severson.

Both teams were down a body for Sunday's second game.

Rockets forward Tyson Baillie was suspended indefinitely as a result of a hit on Blazers forward Colin Smith during the second period of Saturday's opening game.

Smith left the ice after the hit and did not return. He was not in the line-up Sunday with an undisclosed upper body injury.

His status for Tuesday is not known. Baillie will learn the length of his suspension Monday or Tuesday.

The Rockets did welcome a familiar face back into the line-up Sunday when Carter Rigby suited up for game two.

Like Mitchell Wheaton who dressed for game one, Rigby was thought to be gone for the season after the club announced back on Feb. 18 both were gone for the year.

Both require shoulder surgery that has not, as yet, been performed, if fact Rigby will get both shoulders looked at.

Rigby says he wasn't worried at all about the shoulders during the game and says they felt fine.

"I got the call this morning. They said take the warm-up and see how it feels, so, I might as well," says Rigby of the decision to play Sunday.

"We had to clear it with the doctor first and that was okay so it was up to me and my family to decide if it was worth it. Being down a game I thought I could hopefully go out and help the guys out."

The Rockets, who fell behind 3-0 to the Seattle Thunderbirds in round one before sweeping the final four games, will need to win at least once in Kamloops to bring the series back to Kelowna.

Game five, if necessary, would be played Friday night at Prospera Place.



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