Kennewick, WA- In a battle to the very end, the Tri-City Americans gave it everything they had. But the Kelowna Rockets scored in overtime to win, 5-4, ending the Americans season in front of 2,819 at the Toyota Center on Wednesday night.
Kelowna came out strong, registering the first 16 shots of the period. But it was the Americans that got on the board first, as Dylan Coghlan fired a puck to the net that deflected off a Kelowna player and into the net for Tri-City’s first lead of the series. The lead increased to 2-0 late in the period as a loose puck was slapped into the goal by Tyler Sandhu. Kelowna had the shot advantage 20-7, but Tri-City had the lead heading into the second period.
Early in the second, Kelowna got on the board as Rourke Chartier found the back of the net, cutting the lead to 2-1. Midway through the period, the lead was pushed back to two goals, as Richard Nejezchleb fired a shot that knuckled through the air and into the goal. Shortly after, the Americans scored its first shorthanded goal of the playoffs, as Beau McCue got to a loose puck behind Jackson Whistle and tapped the puck in for a 4-1 lead. Less than 30 seconds later, the Rockets cut the lead to two goals as Madison Bowey fired a slap shot from the point that deflected into the air and behind Eric Comrie into the net on the power play. The lead dwindled to 4-3 as Rourke Chartier came around the net all alone and waited before firing a shot top shelf to make it 4-3 Americans after two periods.
In the third, the Rockets tied the game quickly, as Madison Bowey fired a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Comrie to even the score at four. Kelowna outshot Tri-City 16-4 in the third, but Eric Comrie was solid in the third, forcing the game to overtime.
In the overtime, the teams traded chances, with both teams having an opportunity on the power play. Gage Quinney fired home the game winner 18:32 into the overtime frame to put the Rockets into the second round and end the Americans season.
The Americans were 0-of-5 on the power play and spent 31 minutes in the penalty box. Kelowna was 1-of-7 on the power play and recorded 27 penalty minutes.
Eric Comrie played an incredible game, stopping 66 shots in the loss. Jackson Whistle and Michael Herringer combined to stop 26 shots in the win.
The Americans will say farewell to 20-year-olds Lucas Nickles, Richard Nejezchleb and Captain Justin Hamonic. The Americans will return for the beginning of the 2015-16 season starting in August for another exciting season of Americans hockey.
Jack in the Box Three Stars
1. Eric Comrie, Tri-City
2. Justin Hamonic, Tri-City
3. Lucas Nickles, Tri-City
WHL Box Score: CLICK HERE