Kelowna Rockets forward Rodney Southam (left) goes on the attack against Cameron Reagan and the Kamloops Blazers in WHL playoff action Friday at Prospera Place.

Rockets hold off Blazers for Game 1 victory

Lucas Johansen scores twice as Kelowna opens WHL playoffs with one-goal win Friday night at Prospera Place.

In the last three meetings of the regular season, the Kelowna Rockets didn’t have a solution for Connor Ingram and the Kamloops Blazers.

It took the high stakes of a Western Hockey League playoff game for the defending champs to find an answer.

Lucas Johansen scored twice to pace the Rockets to a 3-2 win over Kamloops Friday night at Prospera Place in the opener of the best-of-seven postseason series.

After being rebuffed by the Blazers’ staunch defensive game and the goaltending of Ingram over the last month of the season, Johansen said it was good to see a solid and committed effort from his teammates.

“It was good to come out strong,” said Johansen. “I thought top to bottom, we came to play and it showed. It was fun.”

Johansen put the Rockets on top with the lone goal of the opening period at 15:48.

In the second period, Dillon Dube and Johansen scored just 37 seconds apart—6:20 and 7:07— for what looked like a commanding 3-0 lead.

But former Rocket Gage Quinney put the Blazers on the board at 12:32 to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Late in the third, with Ingram on the bench for an extra attacker, Colin Shirley scored with 55 seconds left to make it a one-goal game.

But with goaltender Michael Herringer making a couple of key saves down the stretch, the Rockets held on to grab Game 1 between the B.C. Division rivals.

“Overall I was really pleased with the way we were skating, and our puck battle, and just overall our game plan was good,” said Rockets head coach Brad Ralph, who said his team fed off the playoff atmosphere and a crowd of 5,461 inside Prospera Place.

“It was exciting, the guys were pretty excited before the game, it was a great crowd. Definitely that’s part of home ice advantage, drawing from the crowd, I thought they were loud, they had the thundersticks going. It was a good game.”

Game 2 in the best-of-seven first round series goes Saturday night at Prospera Place. Face off is 7:05 p.m.

Just Posted

Lawrence Nagy ready for new role as Sun GM

The Sun legend aims to bring the basics back to football club

Rockets begin road trip with a win

Rockets defeated Kootenay on Tuesday night 3-1

Kelowna Family Hub celebrates 10,000th visit

The Central Okanagan Family Hub opened in 2016

Lake Country council questions tax hike for fire hall

Council asked about other options opposed to a 4.9 per cent tax hike

Your morning news in 90: Dec. 12, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Enderby florist pick of B.C.’s crop

Crocus Floral Design earns wedding award for second year in a row, also several Okanagan finalists

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Girl, 6, lured from elementary school, sexually assaulted: Vancouver police

Police are seeking dashcam footage from nearby Sexsmith Elementary School in South Vancouver

B.C. Liberals call for outside audit of Speaker’s office, NDP refuses

Auditor General implicated in Darryl Plecas accusations of impropriety

Three victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest suing Alpine Canada

The victims are also seeking $150,000 each in punitive damages

Trudeau names four new senators, filling every seat in the Senate

Trudeau has appointed 49 senators since becoming prime minister and will have the chance to appoint more in 2019

B.C. member of parliament takes feds to task on opioid crisis

‘Too many families are tragically losing parents, siblings and children to the opioid crisis.’

Most Read