The Portland Winterhawks defeated the Kelowna Rockets 5-3 on Saturday night at Prospera Place in Kelowna, evening the team’s best-of-seven WHL Western Conference final at one game apiece.
The Rockets jumped out quickly in the game, leading 2-0 after the first period, but the Winterhawks came out flying in the second period and took the game over.
“I think things shifted in the second period, they scored on the first shift and there were a few shifts where they came at us hard,” said Rockets coach Ryan Huska on the AM1150 post game show. “Momentum changed, we never got a push back shift and we ended up standing around.”
Nick Merkley and Riley Stadel staked the Rockets to a first period lead, but Dominic Turgeon’s early second period goal got the Winterhawks going. Madison Bowey gave Kelowna a 3-1 lead a few minutes later, but Portland turned on the offense and scored three more times in the period to lead 4-3 through two periods.
Nic Petan had a goal and two assists as the Winterhawks outshot Kelowna 51-26.
Huska said the team wasn’t physical enought
“We were taking hits tonight and we were slow in our own zone,” said Huska. “We didn’t get anything done after the first. Once they got going we couldn’t stop the momentum. We have to get back to doing what we do best.”
Attendance in Kelowna was 6,341 as Kelowna fans packed into Prospera Place for the second straight night, selling out the building on back-to-back nights.
The series now shifts to Portland for games three and four in Portland on Tuesday and Wednesday nights as the teams will make the cross border trek to Oregon.
“We have to make some adjustments and play the way we can,” said Huska. “Portland is not an easy place to play but if we play the right way we will give ourselves a chance to win.”
Game five will be back in Kelowna on Friday, April 25 at Prospera Place and tickets for game 5 will go on sale on Monday morning at 9:30 through www.selectyourtickets.com, at the box office or at 250-762-5050.