Jackson Whistle (right) and the Kelowna Rockets will try to eliminate Brandon Magee and the Victoria Royals from the WHL playoffs when the teams meet in Game 5 Friday at Prospera Place.

Rockets a win away from conference final

Kelowna loses Wednesday in Victoria, but still holds 3-1 lead heading home for Game 5 Friday

After seven straight playoff wins, it just might be the law of averages caught up with the Kelowna Rockets.

But even though Wednesday’s loss prevented them from a sweep of the Victoria Royals, the Rockets are still very much in the driver’s seat in their second-round WHL playoff series.

Kelowna returns home to its fans Friday for Game 5 with a 3-1 lead, and a chance to move on to the Western Conference final for the second year in a row.

“We have to make sure we bring our A game because we certainly don’t want to go back to Victoria,” Rockets’ head coach Lambert said.

“It’s a small bump in the road, certainly nothing to panic about. Sure it would have been nice to sweep, but in a hockey season you’re not going to win 80 games in a row. We’ve been a team that’s rebounded well all year, so if we can do that and win (Friday) obviously we’ll be in good shape.”

The Rockets had built up a 3-0 series lead before the Royals averted elimination with a 5-4 overtime victory on Wednesday at Save on Foods Memorial Centre.

Kelowna led 4-2 midway in the third period before a pair of quick goals turned the tide in Victoria’s favour.

While not being as sharp as usual on the power play (0-for-8), Lambert wasn’t unhappy with his team’s overall effort.

“To be honest, I thought we didn’t give them a whole lot,” he said. “We had a lot of opportunities to put them away, but didn’t. Until that third period, I thought we were in a good position. But then they score two goals in 24 seconds and that’s the difference. It’s playoff hockey…it happens.”

On the upside, the Rockets still have three chances to put the Royals away.

Understandably, Lambert hopes the Rockets can get the job done on their next try on Friday night in front of what should be a vocal and supportive hometown audience.

“It should be a lot of fun,” he said. “Victoria’s a good team that’s making us work for things. The fans will be behind us, so the guys should be excited to play.”

Defenceman Josh Morrissey and forward Justin Kirkland both sat out Wednesday’s game for the Rockets with lower body injuries and remain day-to-day.

A sixth game in the series, if needed, would be played Sunday in Victoria.

Game 7, if necessary, would be back in Kelowna next Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Leon Draisaitl and Tyson Baillie continue to lead the Rockets’ offensive attack in the post-season.

Draisaitl has three goals and 12 points, while Baillie has six goals and five assists in eight games.

Nick Merkley (2-8-10), Rourke Chartier (6-3-9) and Madison Bowey (4-5-9) are also averaging better than a point per game.



Just Posted

Lightning strikes West Kelowna condo

Fire crews were called to a building on Carrington Road Tuesday night

UPDATE: Smoke rising from Okanagan Mountain Park hills

Lightning may have sparked a fire in the hills across from Peachland

Lightning strikes across B.C. Interior

Residents are being asked to go inside until last rumble of thunder

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Crews battle wildfire near Big White Road

Joe Rich Fire Department responding alongside Big White Fire Department and provincial crews.

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Lightning sparks wildfires in Vernon

Tuesday night storm causes wildfire in BX and residential fire in East Hill

Crash closes Highway 5A in both directions

A collision has shut down Highway 5A about 22 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 97C

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Pike Mountain fire continues to grow – quadruples in 24 hours

Fire threatens area consumed in 2017 by a 3,500 hectare blaze

Vernon Knights hire Van Horlick

New head coach of Junior B franchise in Armstrong

St. Albert knocks down Canadians

Finals of Valley of the Champions

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Most Read