No rust on Rockets game

The Kelowna Rockets didn't look like a team that had gone six days between games.

The Rockets scored twice in the game's opening 4:32 Thursday and cruised to a 6-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds in game one of their second round WHL playoff series.

Defenceman Damon Severson led the way with his first two goals of the playoffs and two assists.

Cole Linaker and Ryan Olsen each had a goal and an assist while Rourke Chartier and Madison Bowey added singles. Nick Merkley picked up a pair of assists.

Despite the time off the Rockets came out hard against a hard hitting T-Birds team.

"Our practices all week have been very productive. We've had a lot of energy in practice," says Tyrell Goulborne who added there was a concerted effort to come out of the gate quick.

"We wanted to get our feet under us very quickly and I think we did a good job with that tonight."

Along with the two quick goals to open up the game the Rockets also scored goals in the last minute of the first and second period and the first minute of the third.

"We challenge our players with the fives we call it (first and last five minutes of each period). We want to win the last five and the first five of every period," says Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.

"If you can do that you have a tendency to put a team on their heels. I thought our guys did a pretty good job of that."

Severson got two of those key goals. He beat Seattle netminder Taran Kozun with a high wrist shot on a power-play at 19:42 of the first period and again with a similar shot 24 seconds into the third.

"It was one of those nights where I felt I was feeling it. A couple of lucky goals and I have thank my teammates for some good screens in front of them on both of them," says Severson.

"Both goals I think there was just a guy in front of the net with a d-man. It was just one of those things where I saw an opening and just tried to fire it high."

The T-Birds, as advertised, tried to take the physical play to the Rockets.

Along with a good push back the Rockets also made Seattle pay when they did get overly aggressive and took a penalty.

Kelowna went 3-6 with the man advantage while holding Seattle scoreless on their three opportunities.

"It was huge for us. I think we really stepped up," says Severson of the power-play.

"Over the season against these guys I think we didn't do too bad but tonight we really stepped up. It struggled a little bit at times on the breakout but in zone we did a really good job."

Thursday's game was a 360 degree turnaround from a year ago when the Rockets found themselves in a 0-3 hole against the same Thunderbirds in the first round of the playoffs.

Game two in this series goes Saturday night at Prospera Place before the teams travel to Seattle for games three and four Tuesday and Wednesday.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More WHL articles