Tyson Baillie (left) celebrates his game and series-winning goal with Justin Kirkland and Cole Martin as the Kelowna Rockets defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 3-2 in overtime Wednesday at Prospera Place.

Rockets complete comeback with O.T. win in Game 7

Tyson Baillie nets hat-trick, including game winner, as Kelowna recovers from 3-0 deficit to beat Seattle in WHL first-round series


In a word, that’s what Kelowna Rockets’ head coach Ryan Huska insisted his club never lost—even at the bleakest of moments.

Riddled by injuries and down 3-0 in their WHL first-round playoff matchup, the Rockets fought back to defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds in seven games, clinching the series with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory Wednesday night at Prospera Place.

Tyson Baillie, with his third goal of the night, scored for Kelowna at 5:10 of the extra period as he converted a cross-ice pass from Madison Bowey, sending the Rockets on to the second round of the post-season.

It was the fifth time in the series the Rockets and Thunderbirds needed extra time to decide a winner.

“It’s unbelievable,” an elated Baillie said after the game. “Being down 3-0 in the series, we came back and won three hard games. Of course, this one had to go to overtime. We had the character to pull it off.”

The Rockets were poised to settle the issue in regulation play, but the Thunderbirds prolonged the drama when Luke Lockhart scored with just 7.3 seconds remaining in the third period to force O.T.

While momentarily deflated by the turn of events, head coach Ryan Huska said his team’s unshakable belief and resolve won out.

“We put ourselves in a bad spot by not getting off to the start we wanted in the series,” he said. “They never did lose their belief. They’re a group that has great spirit and that’s one thing, when we got our win in Game 4 you could almost sense some of our swagger coming back. And a credit to a lot of our older, injured guys, they made sure our room kept that belief.”

With four straight wins over Seattle, the Rockets now share of piece of WHL history with the Spokane Chiefs.

The 1996 Chiefs and 2013 Rockets are the only teams to recover from 3-0 deficits to win a series.

With seven regulars out of the lineup, the Rockets depth was put to the test throughout the series with Seattle.

After the loss of Jesse Lees to an upper body injury in Game 6, Kelowna was left with just four regular defencemen.

Huska said his club has overcome the adversity thanks to a complete team effort.

“It’s guys who feel like they’re a part of things, no matter who’s in our lineup players have a belief that on any given night they can be a difference maker for us and I think we saw that throughout the series.

“(Rookie) Justin Kirkland gets a helper on that overtime goal, that was a pretty cool thing, where everybody feels like maybe it’s my night where I’ll be the guy that makes the difference and I think that’s why we’ve continued to have success.”

The Rockets will face the rival Kamloops Blazers in the WHL Western Conference semifinal series. Games 1 and 2 are set for Saturday and Sunday at Prospera Place.


Just Posted

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Kelowna city councillor suggests bringing back photo radar

Gail Given says it could help generate traffic fine revenue for the city—and make roads safer

‘Game changer” research deal between three B.C. Interior universities

UBCO, TRU, UNBC say deal will help innovation, research, aid students and increase quality of life

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

Lind nets three in Rockets win; Dube and Foote named to Canada’s roster

Kole Lind returns from national junior camp to lead Rockets to victory in P.A.

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Annual Christmas meal held as Kelowna Gospel Mission

The meal will be held tomorrow from 12 to 6 p.m.

Michaels: Big Brother has become a big letdown

“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, but privacy should still have some appeal.”

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Most Read