By Andrew Eide
The Kelowna Rockets stayed alive for another night with a 4-3 Game 5 win at Prospera Place Saturday night. For Seattle they now have dropped two straight after taking a three games to none lead in the series. Kelowna got goals from Tyson Baillie and Myles Bell and held off a late Seattle flurry for the win.
Much like Game 4 the Rockets took control of the game early. After a Seattle penalty behind the play the Rockets struck on the power play as Baillie scored. They had three power play goals in the last game and made Seattle pay again on Saturday.
“They were better than us tonight,” Steve Konowalchuk said. “We have got to get our emotion going again. We didn’t respond enough, they scored on the power play and took it to us there.”
The Rockets were not done though as Colton Heffley tipped a pass past Brandon Glover less than a minute later. The goal not only gave the Rockets a two goal lead but serious momentum as they had the T-Birds on their heals for the rest of the period.
Glover kept Seattle in the game with some solid saves and the T-Birds skated off the ice lucky to be only down two.
Seattle played better in the second period and claimed much of the territorial play. They could not master Jordan Cooke though and continued to struggle on the power play, failing to cash in on two second period chances. They have still not scored a power play goal in this series and while they seemed to move the puck well at times, could not score.
“We did a better job setting up but we didn’t execute,” Konowalchuk said about his power play. “We didn’t get shots through, these power plays could have changed the game.”
After struggling with the Rockets power play earlier the T-Birds then found themselves down two men at a critical part of the game as Kelowna had a chance to blow the game open. Seattle hung tough and killed off the two man advantage and stayed within striking distance.
Despite the big kill the Rockets managed to score again later in the period to extend their lead as Dylan McKinlay squeezed a goal past Glover. Down three goals it began to look a litte bleak for the T-Birds.
Before the period ended however Riley Sheen made a nice pass to spring Alex Delnov free and he beat Cooke with a nice move to put some life back in the T-Birds. In some ways it was a frustrating period as they played better but were still down two goals.
The Third period was more of the same. More stingy Kelowna defense and Cooke shutting the door. Kelowna scored what appeared to be the killer goal when Myles Bell scored with just over five minutes left.
The T-Birds kept pushing and scored two late goals as Seth Swenson and Roberts Lipsbergs scored goals ten seconds apart with under a minute left. Seattle pulled Glover and just missed when a Shea Theodore blast was deflected over the net.
“It was good for us to score a couple of goals on that guy,” Konowalchuk said of the late goals. “It was good for our goal scorers to show that they could beat him (Cooke).”
Kelowna hung on to force a Game 6 on Tuesday and has some of the momentum back. The game on Tuesday looms large for Seattle as they don’t want to have to go back to Kelowna for a deciding seventh game.
“We have to worry about getting our game back,” Konowalchuk said. “Our process is not good enough right now, we have to get back to playing sixty minutes again or we will be back here.”
By going 0-for-4 on the Power play Seattle is now 0-22 on the power play in this series. That has to improve if Seattle wants to advance.
Delnov’s goal in the second period broke a string of seven straight Rockets goals over the last two games.
Kelowna is two games away from becoming the first team since the 1996 Spokane Chiefs to erase a three games to none deficit in the WHL.
After picking up three big power play goals in Game 5 the Rockets were held to a one-for-five night as Seattle got a much better penalty kill tonight.
Connor Honey was not in the lineup for Saturday’s game as he was serving a one game suspension for a check from behind in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s game will be a Two for Tuesday affair as tickets will be two for one and there will be $2 beer and hotdogs. The T-Birds had a big crowd last Tuesday and it inspired the players, will there be a big crowd again for this game?
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide