Rockets drop OT heartbreaker, down 3-0
The Kelowna Rockets deserved a better fate but, bad fortune or not, they still find themselves down 3-0 in their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series with the Kamloops Blazers.
JC Lipon scored the game winner at 3:43 of the extra period giving the Blazers a come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Rockets and a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.
They can wrap it up on home ice Wednesday night.
The Rockers were the better team over the course of 60 minutes and had a chance to put it away early in overtime, however, Cole Cheveldave made a spectacular pad save off Zach Franko on the doorstep to give the Blazers a chance.
Lipon converted on that chance moments later.
Brendan Ranford and Cole Ully did all the dirty work behind the Rockets net and caused a turnover.
Ranford got control at the side of the net and spotted Lipon who's one-timer from about 15 feet out beat Jackson Whistle to the glove side.
Whistle had replaced starter Jordon Cooke who allowed three goals on 11 shots during a wild opening 20 minutes.
Ranford got the Blazers on the board first nearly 12 minutes into the game on a Blazers power-play. It was his fourth goal of the series, all coming in the opening period.
The Rockets, who came out flying in the opening period would get that back - and then some.
JT Barnett, making his first appearance since game one of the Seattle series, got the Rockets on the board when he took a soft feed from rookie Nick Merkley at the blue line and wired a wrist shot to the far side past Cheveldave.
Ryan Olson gave the Rockets their first lead of the night nearly two minutes later when, while shorthanded, he put a double move on Ranford at the blueline, slipped the puck between the Blazers' feet, then made a nice deke on Cheveldave for his first of the playoffs.
The Blazers would re-take the lead before the end of the period with two quick goals of their own from Dylan Willick and Kale Kessy.
The goals would put an end to Cooke's night who was replaced by Whistle to start the second period.
The Rockets would again jump out to a one goal lead when Cole Martin and Barnett with his second of the night scored 90 seconds apart to put Kelowna up 4-3.
That lead wouldn't last long as Willick potted his second of the night, deflecting home Joel Edmundon's point shot to knot the score at 4-4.
Both teams had good chances to score in the third but both goaltenders came up big.
Whistle got his shoulder on a Willick breakaway late in the third while Cheveldave managed to get his pad on Barnett's bid for his third of the night.
The Rockets outshot Kamloops 37-29 but were unable to connect on six opportunities with the man advantage.
The last chance came in the dying moments of regulation time.
The Rockets, who became just the second team in league history to come back from a 3-0 hole last series against Seattle, will need to duplicate that feat if they are to advance to the Western Conference final.
If they are successful in extending the series beyond four games then game five would be played back at Prospera Place Friday night.
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