Kelowna Rockets WHL News

Rockets take 2-0 series lead into Seattle for Game 3

Seattle Thunderbirds
Seattle Thunderbirds' centre Mathew Barzal attempts to score on Rockets' goalie Jordon Cooke. Cooke faced 39 shots in Kelowna's 6-3 victory over Seattle.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

The Kelowna Rockets will travel to Seattle with a 2-0 series lead thanks to an abundance of offense and solid goaltending.

The Rockets were able to put six goals in the Thunderbirds' net for the second straight game for a 6-3 victory at Prospera Place Saturday night, despite being outshot 39-30.

Rockets' head coach Ryan Huska said the result could've been different if it weren't for several key saves by goaltender Jordon Cooke.

"I thought (Seattle) played very well in the first period and Jordon was ready," said Huska.

"That's what you rely on your goaltender for. He was there for us tonight."

The Rockets opened the scoring at the eight minute mark after defenceman Riley Stadel buried a two-on-one pass from Carter Rigby.

Nick Merkley extended Kelowna's lead just under four minutes later.

But Seattle's barrage of first period shots on goal helped them tie the game before the first intermission, with goals from Roberts Lipsbergs and Scott Eansor.

Huska said his team started slow but was able to play "a much smarter second half of the game."

"When we had a tough first period, we were trying to make all of our plays standing still and we were having no success."

 

Kelowna took the lead back in the second period with goals from defenceman Damon Severson, Cole Linaker and Rourke Chartier.

The Thunderbirds would get one back early in the third, but the Rockets were able to hold on and tighten their grip on the second-round series.

Cooke said he was happy with his 36 save performance.

"I thought I had a pretty good game," said Cooke.

"We were lucky to come out even after the first, but I think we did a great job bouncing back after that. We really took it to them and pressed hard on their goalie."

Huska said his team's offensive output so far this series has been nice, but added the team will have to focus on defence if they're going to be successful in Seattle.

"We have to keep defending well, I think that's the most important thing for us…because when we defend well typically the offense follows."

Merkley was the game's first star, finishing with a goal and two assists. He credited the team's netminder for keeping the Rockets in the game.

"Cooke held us in there for sure in the first and then kind of got us into the game a little bit in the dressing room," said Merkley.

"I thought we came out flying after that."

The Rockets will try to hand Seattle its first 2014 home playoff loss Tuesday, 7:05 p.m., at ShoWare Center.

 

Twitter: @PatersonWade

 

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