The Kelowna Rockets knew they’d be challenged to get the puck past Eric Comrie in the opening round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.
And while the Tri-City Americans’ netminder has been solid—and at times, even spectacular—the Rockets have found enough cracks in the armour to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
On Sunday at Prospera Place, Ryan Olsen’s goal late in the opening period stood up as the winner, as the Rockets downed the Americans by a 3-1 score for the second straight night.
While it was a duplicate of Saturday night’s final score, Rockets head coach Ryan Huska liked more of what he saw from his club in Game 2.
“We were skating more and were around pucks a little more than before,” said Huska, whose team outshot the Ams 47-25. “By the end of the night we were able to wear them down a little bit. They’ve played well, they haven’t given us much and as expected, when we have gotten opportunities their goaltender has been there to make saves.”
After Tri-City’s Phillip Tot opened the scoring midway through the first, Myles Bell’s second power play marker of the series at 14:40 of the first evened the count.
Olsen then connected at 17:18 of the first to put the Rockets ahead to stay.
“We wanted to get pucks on the net, we knew (Comrie) wasn’t going to give us too many opportunities,” said Olsen, the game’s first star. “That was our game plan, to just keep shooting the puck. We just stuck with it and came out with the win.”
Joe Gatenby provided the Rockets some insurance with his first ever WHL goal at the three-minute mark of the second period on a shot from the point.
Gatenby, a 16-year-old defenceman, had no goals and six assists in his first 45 WHL games. “When it went in it felt pretty nice,” he said. “I went the whole season without getting one, so it felt pretty good to get it out of the way.”
At the other end of the rink from Comrie, Jordon Cooke allowed just one Ams marker for the second straight game and made 24 stops in the victory.
The series now shifts to Kennewick, Wash., where the Rockets and Americans will meet for Game 3 on Tuesday night, and Game 4 on Wednesday. A fifth game, if necessary, will be played Friday in Kelowna.