The defending Western Hockey League champs are facing an uphill climb.
Scott Eansor scored twice, including the game winner with 3:06 remaining in the third period, to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 3-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets Saturday in Game 2 of the Western Conference final at Prospera Place.
The Thunderbirds head home to Washington with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Late in the third period, a clearing attempt by Rockets’ goaltender Michael Herringer deflected off Eansor’s leg to put the T-Birds ahead to stay.
Reminiscent of Friday’s series opener, Seattle scored twice in just 37 seconds—Matthew Barzal, on the power play, followed by Eansor—to give the Thunderbirds an early 2-0 lead.
But the Rockets responded as Cole Linaker’s second goal of the post season late in the first cut the lead to one.
Rourke Chartier got the Rockets back on even terms at 14:52 of the second with a highlight-reel goal, beating Thunderbirds goaltender Landon Bow with a backhand high to the glove side.
There were few scoring chances in a defensive-oriented third period before Eansor’s goal decided the issue.
Rockets’ head coach Brad Ralph was disappointed by the final result but not by his team’s effort.
“The guy battled hard, after we fell behind 2-0, we really dug in and the guys layed it on the lne for each other,” Ralph told AM 1150’s Regan Bartel. “We fought our way back into the game.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the bounces we needed, but if we come with that effort you have to believe good things will happen. I was proud of our work ethic tonight, it just didn’t seem to go our way.”
Chartier, who scored his sixth of the playoffs, thought perhaps the Rockets deserved a better fate in the first two games.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, I think we played pretty well both games,” Chartier said. “I thought we did a great job, going down 2-0 tonight, coming back there, I thought we made a pretty good push.
“Now we’ve got our work cut out for ourselves in Seattle.”
Games 3 and 4 are set for Tuesday and Wednesday nights at the ShoWare Centre in Kent, WA.