Rockets bring out the brooms
The Kelowna Rocket made sure there would be no repeat of last year's playoff series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Kelowna completed a sweep of the T-Birds Wednesday night with a 5-2 win in Seattle advancing to the Western Conference final for the first time since 2009 - the last time they advanced to the Memorial Cup.
The Rockets also ensured the T-Birds would not author a comeback similar to the one written a year ago when Kelowna stormed back from a 3-0 series deficit to win in seven.
As he has done all series long Damon Severson led the way offensively with a goal and an assist. Severson had four goals and seven assists over the four games.
The T-Birds took their only lead of the series when Ethan Bear connected on a power-play 14:22 into the first.
The goal stood up until late in the second when Kelowna scored two quick goals to take the lead for good..
Severson tied it with his fourth of the series at 16:11 on a point shot that deflected in off a T-Bird and past Taran Kozun.
Cole Linaker gave the Rockets the lead 2:03 later.
The Rockets finally pulled away late in the third. Marek Tvrdon scored what proved to be the winner at 12:46 before Tyson Baillie made it 4-1 15 minutes in on a power-play.
The T-Birds got that one back 12 seconds later and thought they had the 4-3 goal, however, it was waved off for a Seattle penalty.
Nick Merkley sealed it into an empty net in the final 30 seconds.
"I'm really surprised. Seattle is a really good hockey team but saying that I am extremely proud of the way the guys played," assistant coach Dan Lambert stated on the post game radio show.
"The guys really played a composed game. The special teams were outstanding through the whole series. That was probably the difference."
Special teams were the difference in the series, especially the penalty kill in Seattle.
The Rockets allowed the T-Birds just two goals on 17 chances with the man advantage during the two games in Seattle. They went 2-22 over the four games.
The power-play went 8-19.
Of all the key performers, Severson was the one that stood out all series long.
"Damon played a ton for us not only tonight but last night. When you are killing a lot of penalties you shorten your bench. He played a lot of minutes and he played great," said Lambert.
"The way he played in this series there is no doubt he will play in the NHL especially if he plays the way he did in this series."
The Rockets will get a well deserved rest before hosting the first two games of the Western Conference final sometime next week.
Kelowna will face either the Portland Winterhawks or Victoria Royals.
Portland lead that series 3-1 with game five Thursday night in Portland.
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