Kelowna Rockets rebounded to even best-of-seven series with Wenatchee

Rockets even series

The Kelowna Rockets dug deep and found a way to even up their best-of-seven series with the Wenatchee Wild Saturday night.

Just 24 hours after blowing leads of 4-1 and 5-2 in the series opener, the Rockets kept their composure and stayed disciplined in a 3-1 victory to even the series at a game apiece.

Given the circumstances, it was likely their best performance of the season.

"That could be the back breaker. We're up 4-1, we're up 5-2 and we lose that game," said assistant coach Josh MacNevin on the post game radio broadcast.

"But good on the guys...resiliency. We've shown it all year. That's why you need those struggles during the regular season."

As they did in the opener, the Rockets got on the board within the first 70 seconds.

Tonight, it was Andrew Cristall's turn to notch his first of the series.

The Wild were unable to clear their own end and eventually the puck squirted toward Caden Price who tracked it down near the left point and threw it toward the net.

Cristall, providing a screen in front of Wenatchee netminder Daniel Hauser was able to redirect the puck into the net to put the Rockets up a goal.

They made it 2-0 11 minutes later and, as was the case on the first goal, it was set up by Price at the point.

Hauser got his pad on Price's point shot but the rebound went directly to Trae Johnson who deposited his first of the post season.

It proved to be the game winner.

Unlike the series opener when penalties allowed the Wild to climb back in, the Rockets stayed disciplined, taking just a single minor penalty when Max Graham was called for shooting the puck over the glass.

The Rockets, who led 2-1 at the time, were able to kill that penalty off and keep the Wild at bay the rest of the way.

The Rockets shut things down in the final period allowing the Wild just four shots over the last 20 minutes and sealed it when Luke Schelter hit the empty net with two-and-a-half minutes left.

Jari Kykkanen, who allowed all eight goals Friday bounced back making 21 saves in the victory.

"He was excellent tonight," said MacNevin who thought Kykkanen was good Friday despite allowing the eight goals.

The Rockets essentially played the game with five defencemen after Carter Kowalyk was forced to miss the game after being handed a one-game suspension for a slew foot penalty assessed Friday night.

Sixteen-year-old rookie Lachlan Staniforth, who suited up in just one regular season game, dressed but didn't see a lot of action Saturday.

With the win the Rockets now assume home-ice advantage in what is essentially now a best-of-five affair.

Games three and four will be at Prospera Place Tuesday and Wednesday.

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