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Western Hockey League News

Rockets open 2-0 series lead

The Kelowna Rockets got away with one.

After a lacklustre first period the Rockets exploded with three unanswered goals in the second then held on in the third in a 6-3 win over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.

The win gives the Rockets a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as the teams get set to head south to Seattle for games three and four Tuesday and Wednesday.

Despite being outplayed in the opening period the Rockets actually managed to open up a 2-0 lead on goals from Riley Stadel and Nick Merkley - their first of the playoffs.

Seattle got those back when Roberts Lipsbergs and Scott Eansor scored two minutes apart late in the first.

Rockets head coach Ryan Huska says the team was fortunate to get out of the first tied.

"It's wasn't fun but that's what happens when you try to makes plays without moving your feet," said Huska on the post game radio broadcast of the opening 20 minutes.

"That's the one thing we really did in the first period. When we did have pucks we were standing still and then we were holding on to it for a long period of time. When you add the two things together not moving pucks quickly and not moving your feet you get the first period we had."

Huska says the team was much better in both areas during a dominant second period.

Damon Severson on a power-play, Cole Linaker and Rourke Chartier all scored in the second staking the Rockets to a 5-2 lead.

Alexander Delnov got one back early in the third but were unable to get anything else past Jordon Cooke who was rock solid throughout the game stopping 36 or 39 shots fired his way.

"We were fortunate Jordon was very good. Fortunately he kind of held us together so we could get it together in the second and third."

Tyrell Goulbourne sealed the deal with his first of the playoffs into an empty net.

Severson and Merkley each had a pair of assists to go along with their goal while Madison Bowey also chipped in with a pair of helpers.

The Rockets went 1-3 on the power-play giving them four goals in nine opportunities with the man advantage in the series. The T-Birds went 0-2 and have not scored in five chances with the power-play in the series.

Huska says he knows his team will have to have a better start especially on $2 beer night Tuesday.

"We need to learn a lesson from tonight. We are going to see a Seattle team on Tuesday night that is going to come out I think even a little bit harder than we saw here tonight and you are going to have their $2 crowd that's going to be a factor."

If a fifth game in the series is needed it will be played back at Prospera Place Friday night.

Meantime the Portland Winterhawks lead the other Western Conference semi-final 2-0 after a 6-3 win over the Victoria Royals.

That series moves to Victoria for games three and four Monday and Tuesday.


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