Photo: Wayne Moore/file
Rockets eliminated Seattle in seven game thriller in 2013.
The Kelowna Rockets now know the identity of their first round playoff opponent.
The Rockets will face the Western Conference winning Seattle Thunderbirds in the opening round of the playoffs. The matchup was sealed Tuesday when the Vancouver Giants edged Portland 3-2, officially closing the door on any chance the Rockets had of catching the seventh place Giants.
This will be the 10th time the Rockets and T-Birds have met in post season play since the Rockets relocated from Tacoma 28 years ago.
Seattle has won five of the previous nine playoff meetings including the last three in a row.
They last faced each other last spring with the T-Birds winning in five en route to a Western Conference championship.
The most memorable meeting was 2013 when the Rockets came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat Seattle in seven on Tyson Baillie's overtime winner.
The first round series between the Rockets and T-Birds opens in Seattle Friday and Saturday March 31 and April 1. Games three and four are back at Prospera Place Tuesday and Wednesday, April 4 and 5.
Single game tickets for the games back in Kelowna are available at Select Your Tickets online or at the Prospera Place box office.
The Rockets will close out the regular season this weekend with back-to-back games with the Giants Friday in Langley and Saturday back at Prospera Place.
- Mar 22, 2023 / 9:41 pm | Story: 417505
Photo: Alex Beckett/Kamloops Blazers
The Kamloops Blazers jumped out to a big lead and then held on for dear life Wednesday at Sandman Centre, earning a hard-fought 6-5 win over the first-place Seattle Thunderbirds.
Olen Zellweger, Dylan Sydor, Fraser Minten, Logan Stankoven, Ryan Hofer and Caedan Bankier were the goal scorers for the Blazers. Nico Myatovic, Dylan Guenther, Nolan Allan, Colton Dach and Jeremy Hanzel scored for the Thunderbirds.
The Blazers led 4-0 after the first period but Seattle roared back in the second and the game was tied 5-5 after two. Bankier’s game-winner — set up by Stankoven — came at 13:43 of the third.
Matthew Kieper stopped 44 of 49 Seattle shots to earn the win in net. Scott Ratzlaff made 31 saves on 37 Kamloops shots in a losing effort.
Both teams were held scoreless on the power play. The Blazers had three chances and the Thunderbirds had one.
Announced attendance at Sandman Centre was 5,659 — the largest crowd of the season on Mark Recchi Way.
With the win, the Blazers improve to 48-12-4-2 on the season. The loss — the first regulation defeat for Seattle since Feb. 4 — moves the T-Birds to 53-10-1-2.
The Blazers have locked up the No. 2 seed in the WHL’s Western Conference while the Thunderbirds have clinched top spot.
The Blazers have two games remaining in their regular-season schedule — a home-and-home set with the Prince George Cougars (35-24-6-1), at Sandman Centre on Friday and in P.G. on Saturday.
The Blazers will take on the seventh-seed Vancouver Giants (27-31-5-3) in the first round of the playoffs, which will get underway at Sandman Centre on March 31.
- Mar 21, 2023 / 9:48 pm | Story: 417303
Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds
The Kamloops Blazers surrendered four consecutive goals Tuesday in Kent, Wash, snapping their nine-game win streak with a 6-3 loss to the high-flying Seattle Thunderbirds.
Ashton Ferster and Olen Zellweger (2) were the goal scorers for the Blazers. Nolan Allan, Brad Lambert, Jared Davidson and Dylan Guenther (2) and Reid Schaefer scored for the Thunderbirds.
Seattle opened the scoring 34 seconds in but the Blazers led 2-1 after the first period. Then the T-Birds stepped on the gas, scoring four straight to make it 5-2. The teams exchanged goals late in the third to make it a 6-3 final.
Dylan Ernst made 29 saves on 34 Seattle shots in a losing effort. Thomas Milic stopped 34 of 37 Kamloops shots to earn the win in net.
The Blazers scored twice on four power-play opportunities. The Thunderbirds scored once on two chances.
Announced attendance at Accesso ShoWare Center was 4,335.
The win moves the Western Conference-leading Thunderbirds to 53-9-1-2. The second-place Blazers fall to 47-12-4-2 with the loss — the club's first defeat since a Feb. 25 loss in Medicine Hat.
Tuesday’s result firmed up the Western Conference playoff picture. The Blazers now know they will take on the seventh-place Vancouver Giants (26-31-5-3) in the opening round, while the top-seeded T-Birds will face the Kelowna Rockets (26-36-4-0).
The Blazers and the Thunderbirds will do it again on Wednesday at Sandman Centre, which will be Pride Night for the Blazers. Puck drop is 7 p.m.
Photo: Steve Dunsmoor
The Kelowna Rockets hoped to get more, but they will savour the single point and hope it's enough to keep their hopes of passing the Vancouver Giants in the Western Conference alive.
The Kamloops Blazers got a late goal to tie it then the game winner from captain Logan Stankoven just shy of the midway point of sudden death overtime to edge the Rockets 5-4.
Despite being outshot two-to-one and surrendering 58 shots including 42 over the first 40, the Rockets stayed within sign of the top team in the BC Division.
Much of the credit went to Jari Kykkanen, who replaced starter Talyn Boyko six minutes into the game. He stopped 49 of 53 shots fired his way.
The Blazers jumped out to a 2-0 lead by the 14 minute mark of the first on goals Olen Zellweger on a power play and Connor Levis.
Carson Golder, back in the lineup after servicing a four-game suspension, got the Rockets on the board before the end of the first working his way from the end boards to the left circle before wiring a shot past Blazers netminder Matthew Kieper.
Connor Levis restored the two-goal lead early in the third but three straight put the Rockets up one for the first time in the game.
Andrew Cristall with a backhand off the rush in the second, Dylan Wightman with a tip-in on a power play and Cristall again 13:40 into the third gave the Rockets a one goal lead.
But Ryan Hofer two minutes later tied it setting the stage for Stankoven's heroics.
The single point, coupled with Vancouver's 4-1 loss in Everett keeps the Rockets hopes of leapfrogging the Giants still hanging by a thread.
With just two games left, and four points back, the Rockets need Vancouver to lose in regulation time Sunday in Tri-City and Tuesday in Portland, then beat the Giants in regulation time to close out the season next Friday and Saturday.
A seventh place finish would mean a likely first round date with the same Blazers while an eighth place finish means the Seattle Thunderbirds.