T-Birds’ Defense Can’t Contain Rockets, Fall 5-4
KENT, April 8, 2014 – The Kelowna Rockets defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-4 Tuesday night at ShoWare Center in Game 3 of their best-of-seven second round playoff series. The win stretched Kelowna’s series lead to 3-0, with Game 4 Wednesday night at the ShoWare Center at 7:05 pm.
Taran Kozun and Jordon Cooke both faced 32 shots in the game. Kozun stopped 27 for Seattle, getting the loss to make his playoff record 4-4. Cooke is now 7-1 in the playoffs this season after stopping 28 shots.
Tempers flared early and often between the two teams. The opening faceoff was delayed after a few minor disagreements, which sprang up once again after Cooke gloved Seattle’s first shot of the game. Kelowna nearly took the lead on the rush at 2:25. A 2-on-1 break ended with a shot off the post by the Rockets.
Even with that opportunity, it was the T-Birds who had the pressure in the first five minutes. Seattle pinned the Rockets in their own zone for a full shift and didn’t allow a shot on goal for three minutes straight. Kozun’s cover of Kelowna’s next shot preceded another dust up between the teams that only served to increase the physicality.
The first penalty went against the visitors, coming during another post-save disagreement. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors with a second penalty, making it 1:19 of 5-on-3 for the T-Birds. Seattle appeared to score on their first shot of the advantage, but the puck was ruled to not have crossed the goal line and play continued. The home team kept attacking and nearly scored just a few seconds later, though Cooke was able to cover the puck as he leapt across the crease.
As soon as Kelowna’s first penalty expired, they were hit with another, making it 5-on-3 for another 28 seconds. Seattle couldn’t score during this time or the 1:30 of 5-on-4 that followed, keeping the game tied at zero.
Even-strength hockey brought back up-and-down physical play. Both Seattle and Kelowna had their chances, but strong goaltending and team defense kept the game scoreless.
The Rockets took the lead late in the first, scoring on the power play at 19:39. Ryan Olsen tipped home a shot by Damon Severson as Olsen rushed to the net, making it 1-0. Nick Merkley had the secondary assist.
Kelowna extended their lead at 19:03. Tyrell Goulbourne skated untouched down the wing after a Seattle defender lost his footing. Goulbourne let loose a shot from the left faceoff circle that made it past Kozun to make it 2-0. The assists went to Colten Martin and Severson.
Shots in the first were 13-12 Seattle.
Seattle scored on its first shot of the second period, coming at 4:12. Ethan Bear ripped a slap shot as he attempted to keep the puck in the zone. The puck trickled through Cooke’s pads for the T-Birds’ first goal of the night.
Another post-whistle scrum followed a minute later after a Kozun cover. The puck ended up in the back of the net, but the whistle had blown before Kelowna dislodged the puck from within Kozun’s pads.
The Rockets made it 3-1 just after a second power play expired. Marek Tvrdon came down the left wing and crossed the puck through the crease to Tyson Baillie, who tapped the puck into an empty net. Jesse Lees had the second assist on the goal coming at 7:23.
A 4-on-4 goal for the Rockets made it 4-1. Madison Bowey put home a rebound as Kozun kicked toward the puck to score his third of the playoffs. The goal came at 9:54 and came off assists by Tvrdon and Mitchell Wheaton.
Seattle got another 5-on-3 opportunity at 13:38, though this time for only six seconds. The T-Birds managed to get three shots on goal in that short span thanks to a drive by Shea Theodore from the point and Branden Troock’s repeated attempts to bang the puck through Cooke’s pads. The next 1:54 of 5-on-4 had a dangerous opportunity when Alexander Delnov dropped the puck to Russell Maxwell in the slot, but Cooke got his glove up and caught the shot
Cooke made an exceptional save just after that power play as well. Justin Hickman threw the puck in front, but Maxwell was unable to get a shot off from a foot outside the crease and had the puck trickle to the side. Hickman gathered it there and took a shot that got under Cooke’s pad as the goalie leap to the post. The puck bounced off the bottom of Cooke’s shin and went out of the crease.
The Rockets took a penalty with 17 seconds left in the period. Seattle would have begun the third on the power play, but took a penalty with four seconds left to make it 4-on-4.
The shots in the second period favored Kelowna 16-7.
Four-on-four play ceded itself to a 4-on-3 Seattle power play after a boarding call against the Rockets. Adam Henry scored Seattle’s second goal just as Kelowna’s first penalty expired. Henry’s shot from the point beat Cooke through a bit of traffic, making it 4-2 at 1:44. Mathew Barzal and Theodore had the assists on what was an even-strength goal.
Back on the power play 25 seconds later, the T-Birds remained on the offensive. Theodore skated through three Kelowna defenders but couldn’t get his stick down to get a shot off, followed by Seattle getting a point-blank shot off that Cooke caught in his pads. No third goal came for the home team, however.
Justin Kirkland scored on the power play for Kelowna, extending the lead back to three goals. Bowey’s stretch pass from near his own goal mouth found Kirkland behind the Seattle defense. Kirkland deked once and slid the puck through Kozun’s pads for the Rockets’ fifth goal at 6:07.
Two penalties against the visitors put the T-Birds on the power play for four minutes straight at 6:15, representing their ninth and 10th power plays of the game. Hickman scored 1:55 into this advantage, giving Seattle their third goal and once again cutting the deficit to two. Maxwell made a pass across the zone to Hickman, who ripped the shot into the net before Cooke could get across. The goal came at 7:21.
Cooke made an amazing save from on his back as the penalty expired to keep the score where it was. A shot from the point rebounded heavily off of Cooke to a Seattle stick. The T-Bird skater attempted to throw the puck into the net before Cooke could recover, but the goalie kicked his legs out from on his side to knock it away.
The T-Birds pulled their goalie with 3:27 left in the game. Kelowna iced the puck twice in a minute as they attempted to score to seal the game. Other than these two attempts, Seattle controlled the puck and held it in the offensive zone, sending multiple shots wide.
Delnov scored with 1:17 left in the game to make it 5-4. Barzal won a battle on the boards and laced a pass all the way to Delnov, who was standing alone in front of the net and scored to close the gap to one.
The T-Birds pulled Kozun again and forced the Rockets to ice the puck several times, but in the end Kelowna was able to gain possession of the puck and hold it against the boards to secure the win. Shots in the third periods were 12-4 Seattle.
Second Round Schedule vs. Kelowna
Game 1 – At Kelowna 6, Seattle 2
Game 2 – At Kelowna 6, Seattle 3
Game 3 – Kelowna 5, at Seattle 4
Game 4 – Kelowna @ Seattle Wednesday, April 9, 7:05 pm
Game 5 – Seattle @ Kelowna Friday, April 11, 7:05 pm*
Game 6 – Kelowna @ Seattle Sunday, April 13, 5:05 pm*
Game 7 – Seattle @ Kelowna Tuesday, April 15, 7:05 pm*
First period – 1, Kelowna, Olsen 3 (Severson, Merkley), 18:39 (pp). 2, Kelowna, Goulbourne 2 (Martin, Severson), 19:03. Penalties - Heffley, Kelowna (slashing), 7:26. Martin, Kelowna (slashing), 8:07. Wheaton, Kelowna (tripping), 9:39. Eansor, Seattle (cross-checking), 18:07.
Second period - 3, Seattle, Bear 1 (unassisted), 4:12. 4, Kelowna, Baillie 2 (Tvrdon, Lees), 7:23. 5, Kelowna, Bowey 3 (Tvrdon, Wheaton), 9:54. Penalties - Wardley, Seattle (interference), 5:14. Olsen, Kelowna (tripping), 8:22. Troock, Seattle (tripping), 9:40. Kirkland, Kelowna (high-sticking), 11:43. Severson, Kelowna (tripping), 13:38. Tvrdon, Kelowna (high-sticking), 19:42. Delnov, Seattle (hooking), 19:56.
Third period - 6, Seattle, Henry 1 (Barzal, Theodore), 1:44. 7, Kelowna, Kirkland 3 (Bowey), 6:07 (pp). 8, Seattle, Hickman 2 (Maxwell, Lipsbergs), 7:21 (pp). 9, Seattle, Delnov 4 (Barzal), 18:43. Penalties - Bowey, Kelowna (boarding), 1:22. Eansor, Seattle (high-sticking), 5:48. Tvrdon, Kelowna (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:15. Tvrdon, Kelowna (interference), 6:15. Delnov, Seattle (roughing), 16:23. Kirkland, Kelowna (slashing), 16:23.
Shots on goal - Seattle 13-7-12 32, Kelowna 12-16-4 32. Goalies - Seattle, Kozun 32 shots-27 saves (4-4-0); Kelowna, Cooke 32-28 (7-1-0). Power plays - Seattle 1-10; Kelowna 2-5. A - 5,029. Referees - Ian Croft, Sean Raphael. Linesmen - Zach Brooks, Nathan Van Oosten.
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