Not many people were giving the Kelowna Rockets much of a chance against the Portland Winterhawks in the team’s second round WHL playoff series.
But after a convincing 5-1 win over the top team in the WHL Western Conference on Thursday night, the Rockets will look to come home from the opening two games of the series with a 2-0 series lead.
The Rockets and Winterhawks meet at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Rose Garden in Portland in game two of their WHL Western Conference semi-final series.
“Obviously the media and everyone is doubting us but in the dressing room we are having a positive mental outlook,” said Rockets forward Shane McColgan after a three goal performance on Thursday night. “I think we just believe in ourselves and believe we can be the best team on the ice.”
On Thursday the Rockets were the best team on the ice, handing Portland a rare home loss to open the series in what was an intense, fast-paced and entertaining hockey game. McColgan had four points in total to move in the playoff scoring lead all by himself, while goalie Adam Brown stopped 45 of 46 shots to shut the potent Winterhawks offense down.
McColgan says the Rockets will have to continue to get better as the series moves on.
“Usually game one in a series is the easiest one to play in and in games two and three and on and on the games get harder,” he said.
The teams had Friday and Saturday off after Thursday night’s win as the Winterhawks stadium was being used for basketball on the weekend. Friday night the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers took on the LA Lakers before a major high school tournament took place on Sunday in the 20,000 seat Rose Garden.
The ice is back in today and the Rockets and Hawks have had a couple days to think about game one and get ready to get back at it.
Rockets captain Tyson Barrie said the break wasn’t going to be a factor for his team.
“Honestly I don’t think it’s going to be a factor,” said Barrie. “It’s nice to regroup and get the body feeling better. Anytime you have days off in the playoffs it’s nice.”
Following tonight’s game the Rockets and Winterhawks will play games three and four at Prospera Place on Tuesday and Wednesday. There are still tickets available through Select Your Tickets.