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Kelowna Rockets season continues after 2-1 win over PG Wednesday

Rockets live to fight on

The Kelowna Rockets are not done yet.

The Rockets gutted out a 2-1 win over the Prince George Cougars Wednesday to stay alive in their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series.

The Rockets still trail 3-1 with game five now set for Prince George Friday night.

It was a tight game through much of the first 40 minutes with neither team giving up much and when there were chances, Jari Kykkanen in the Rockets net and Vancouver Canuck prospect Ty Young at the other end were unbeatable.

Kykkanen as he has throughout much of the post season kept the Rockets in it and gave them a chance to get on the board first.

He stood his ground during a wild scramble around his goal crease early in the second which the officials needed to review before confirming the puck never entered the net, then flashed a quick glove to deny Zac Funk from the slot.

That allowed the Rockets who broke through first with two late goals in the second period then hung on for dear life over the final three minutes to extend the series.

"Last night we played our tails off and today was a carryover," said head coach Kris Mallette.

"Our guys came prepared and did what we needed to do obviously."

And they got the breaks.

With the game still awaiting its first goal spark plug Max Graham entered the zone down the right wing. His centering pass deflected off the stick of a back checking Borya Valis and into his own net.

The goal brought the crowd of 3,852 to life and gave the bench a huge lift.

"That's normally how it goes when the games are tight like that," said Graham.

"I just tried to send one in front to (Luke) Schelter and I think one of their players touched it and it went five-hole. It was lucky but in games like that those are the goals that always end up going in.

"It's always a little deflating when a goal like that goes in on you but to put one in like that gives the team a little bit of energy."

Four minutes later, still riding that wave of energy, captain Gabriel Szturc wired a shot from the slot at the end of a pretty three-way passing play with Caden Price and Andrew Cristall to give the Rockets their largest lead of the series.

The first 40 minutes weren't pretty, but as Mallette reminded us after the game playoff hockey doesn't have to be pretty.

The Cougars tried to mount an offensive in the third with Kykkanen sliding to his left to deny Jett Lajoie's one-timer from the right circle. Then Terik Parascak fanned on the puck with a wide open net from the corner of the crease.

They finally broke through when, with the teams playing four-on-four, Hudson Thornton entered the offensive zone, made a nifty toe drag toward the middle and beat Kykkanen on the short side with three-and-a-half minutes left.

"It was stressful," Mallette said about those final three-and-a-half minutes, "but again some big sacrifices, simple plays and some saves when you need them."

The Rockets now head back to Prince George where they failed to generate much offence and failed to score during the first two games of the series.

A win Friday would extend their season and bring the series back to Prospera Place for game six next Sunday afternoon.



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