Kelowna Rockets forward Reid Gardiner battles Seattle’s Donovan Nuels in WHL playoff action Friday in Kent, Wash. — Image credit: Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds

Kelowna Rockets forward Reid Gardiner battles Seattle’s Donovan Nuels in WHL playoff action Friday in Kent, Wash. — Image credit: Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds take Game 1

Ethan Bear scores late goal to send Seattle past the Kelowna Rockets in opener of conference final

The Kelowna Rockets showed some late-game resilience but it wasn’t enough to stop the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 1 of the WHL’s Western Conference final.

Ethan Bear’s power play goal with just 11 seconds remaining in the third period boosted the T-Birds to a 5-4 win Friday night in Kent, Wash., in the opener of the best-of-seven series.

The Rockets battled back from a 4-2 third-period deficit on goals by Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf, before a delay of game penalty to Dillon Dube at 18:00 set the stage for Bear’s game winner.

Assistant coach Travis Crickard said the end result didn’t reflect the Rockets’ play in Game 1.

“I really liked our team,” Crickard told AM 1150’s Regan Bartel. “…I thought we dominated the play for the most part and unfortunately a couple of bad breaks here and there led to a loss but I feel good about our team and we’ll rebound.”

Reid Gardiner added to his playoff scoring lead with a goal and two assists for the Rockets and now has 25 points (13-12) in just 12 games. Kole Lind also scored for the Rockets who outshot Seattle 33-25.

Game 2 goes Saturday night in Kent, Wash. Games 3 and 4 are set for next Tuesday and Wednesday at Prospera Place.

Kelowna Rockets