Kelowna Rockets centre Rourke Chartier (left) battles Seattle's Brandon True in WHL playoff action Tuesday night in Kent

Thunderbirds push Rockets to brink

Seattle beats defending champs Tuesday in Kent, WA to take commanding 3-0 lead in WHL's Western Conference final

The Kelowna Rockets will need to rekindle some 2013 magic to repeat as Western Hockey League champions.

The Seattle Thunderbirds downed the Rockets 3-1 Tuesday in Kent, WA night to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the WHL’s Western Conference final.

The defending champs will look to avoid elimination when the teams meet for Game 4 on Wednesday at the ShoWare Centre.

In the spring of 2013, the Rockets roared back from a 3-0 deficit with four straight wins to oust the Thunderbirds in the opening round of the playoffs.

Assistant coach Kris Mallette has faith that the 2016 Rockets can duplicate the unlikely feat.

“I’m confident in the guys that they’re going to lay it on the line for each other,” assistant coach Kris Mallette told AM 1150’s play-by-play man Regan Bartel. “That group in there is playing for each other, and that’s the message that they want more time together.

“As a staff, we sit back and leave it in their hands.”

Brian Allbee opened the scoring with a first-period power play goal, before Justin Kirkland evened the score with his ninth of the postseason at 13:17 of the second.

Just 58 seconds into the third period, Ethan Bear’s point shot through a screen beat Michael Herringer for the game winner.

Matthew Barzal, with his fifth of the playoffs, sealed the game with an empty net with 1:29 left in the game.

Landon Bow, who has allowed just four goals in the series, made 36 saves for Seattle, while a steady Herringer stopped 30 shots in the Kelowna net.

Game 5 of the series, if needed, will be played Friday night at Prospera Place.

 

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