Three straight second period goals were the difference as the Kelowna Rockets came from behind to defeat the Portland Winterhawks 5-3 in a wildly entertaining game at Prospera Place in Kelowna on Friday night.
Zach Franko’s second goal of the game was the winner as the Rockets erased a 3-1 deficit and roared back to defeat the Winterhawks with a great second period and a solid third to shut down the Winterhawks high flying offense.
Franko put Kelowna ahead with a beautiful goal late in the second period, giving Kelowna its first lead of the game. Franko took a nice feed from Brett Bulmer, cut to the net and backhanded a shot high into the top corner for his second goal of the game.
The goal capped a great period for the Rockets, who entered the second period down 3-1 to the Winterhawks. Prior to Franko’s goal it was the Geordie Wudrick show as the big 20-year-old had a goal and an assist to erase the two goal deficit.
Wudrick’s 23rd goal of the season at 7:54 of the second period brought Kelowna within a goal of Portland. it was a thing of beauty as he ripped a hard wrist shot into the top corner on a Rockets power play to make the score 3-2 in the second period. The Rockets were on a 4 on 3 power play when Wudrick found himself all alone in the slot, firing a wrist shot into the net.
Later Wudrick made a nice move around the Portland defense to get in on Hawks goalie Mac Carruth. Carruth made the save but was wiped out by his own defenceman and Shane McColgan snapped home the tying goal at 11:59 of the second period. Wudrick added an empty netter to seal the win.
The game was 1-1 until the final minute of the first period when Hawks’ players Sven Bartschi and Nino Niederreiter scored two quick goals late to break a the tie.
Instead of deflating the Rockets it set the stage for one of the biggest wins of the season.
“I had a little bit of mental lapse and lost my focus,” said Kelowna goalie Adam Brown, on SHAW TV’s post-game show after being named the first star, making 43 shots. “We responded really well in the second and third. The guys really bailed me out there. We showed so much emotion and a lot of character coming back against one of the top teams in the league. We had a really good night.”
Portland’s Troy Rutkowski opened the scoring 2:23 into the first on an early power play goal. Franko tied the game at 1-1 at 5:42 of the first on a 5-on-3 power play. Standing in the slot Franko banged away at a loose puck, then kicked it up his stick and forced it through Portland starter Mac Carruth.
Kelowna will host Medicine Hat Saturday night.