Kelowna, B.C. – The Tri-City Americans (0-2-0-0) opened the scoring midway through the first period, but three unanswered goals would lift the Kelowna Rockets (2-0-0-0) past the Americans for a 3-1 victory at Prospera Place on Sunday evening.
The victory gives Kelowna a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven and have now earned victories in all six matchups against the Americans this season.
For the second consecutive night, Eric Comrie back stopped his team with a strong effort in goal, turning aside 44 of the Rockets’ 47 shots, to give the Americans a chance down the stretch.
Tri-City got off to a strong start, controlling play to start the game, and opened the scoring at 10:37. Phil Tot notched his first career playoff goal, redirecting Parker Bowles’ original shot, to give his team a 1-0 lead.
But, Myles Bell would tie the game after a Michal Plutnar boarding penalty, wristing a point shot through traffic, and past Comrie, to tie the game at one with his second goal in as many nights.
Kelowna would continue to pour on the pressure late in the first period, accumulating 14 shots in the opening 20 minutes. Ryan Olsen gave the Rockets the 2-1 lead at 17:18, finding the loose puck in the crease and sliding it past Comrie for a late period score.
Kelowna carried its late first period momentum into the second period, where it outshot the Americans 15-9 in the middle frame. Joe Gatenby extended the Rockets’ lead to 3-1 with a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circles.
Kelowna had several chances to extend its lead further, but Comrie came up big with multiple great saves, keeping his team within two goals after 40 minutes of play.
Another strong offensive performance by the CHL’s top ranked team made it difficult for the Americans to regain any momentum, as the Rockets fired 18 more shots on Comrie in the final 20 minutes. But, the 18-year-old net minder kept Tri-City in the game, holding Kelowna to just three goals on the night.
In a last ditch effort, the Americans pulled Comrie for the extra attacker with 1:26 remaining, but despite some good offensive pressure, were unable to cut into the deficit.
The series will now shift to Kennewick, where the Americans host Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals at the Toyota Center on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Both games feature 7:05 p.m. face-offs. Tickets for both games are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Ryan Olsen, Kelowna
2) Eric Comrie, Tri-City
3) Rourke Chartier, Kelowna