The notion of being swept in the opening round of the WHL playoffs apparently didn’t appeal to the Kelowna Rockets.
Facing a 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven series Tuesday night in Kent, Wash., the Rockets stayed alive with a convincing 4-0 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds to force a fifth game in the Western Conference quarterfinal macthup Saturday in Kelowna.
“I thought it was a big character test for us,” Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert told AM 1150 after the game. “This was way too early for us to be done. We need to keep playing the way we played tonight.”
Tyson Baillie scored twice on the power play in the opening period and added an assist, and Zach Franko added a goal and two assists, as the Rockets ended a nine-game playoff losing streak dating back to the 2010-11 season.
Unlike the first three games of the series, which were all won in overtime by Seattle, the Rockets fended off a Thunderbirds rally over the final 40 minutes.
“We knew they were going to try and push back and I thought we responded very well,” Lambert said.
Rockets netminder Jordon Cooke wasn’t busy early but finished with 25 stops for the shutout and his first WHL playoff win.
“Cookie was sharp and he was really engaged,” Lambert said. “He’s been good the whole series.”
The Rockets and Thunderbirds will face off in Game 5 Saturday night at Prospera Place.
Game 6, if needed, would be played Monday in Kent.