Kelowna, BC- The final game of the season between Kelowna and Tri-City was exactly what was expected: physical and high scoring.
The Tri-City Americans (23-16-1-2, 49 pts) were on the wrong end of the scoring, as Dylen McKinlay would have two goals and two assists, leading the Kelowna Rockets (31-10-1-1, 64 pts) to their eighth straight win 6-3 in Prospera Place.
Kelowna has now won 17 straight home games and extends their win streak against the Americans at home to five. Tri-City finishes its road trip at 2-2.
Tri-City got off to a quick start as Michal Plutnar would fire a shot from the point that would find the back of the net for a 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the game. Midway through the period, they would jump out to a 2-0 lead as Beau McCue would put the puck in the goal. But Kelowna would cut the lead back to one a minute later as Riley Stadel would fire a shot from the slot into the top right corner of the net. And late in the period, the Rockets would tie the game as Rourke Chartier would put home a rebound on the power play to make it 2-2 heading into the second period.
Kelowna got off to a quick start in the second period as Dylen McKinlay would snipe the top right corner of the net to give the Rockets their first lead of the game. McKinlay would add his second goal of the game midway through the second period to increase the lead to two. Tri-City would cut the lead back to one less than 30 seconds later as Connor Rankin would fire a loose puck into the net. Tri-City outshot Kelowna 9-8 in the second period and carried some momentum headed into the final period.
A big opportunity came up for the Americans in the beginning of the third period as they had a five minute power play because of checking from behind by Myles Bell. They got a few good opportunities but couldn’t put one in the net and Kelowna capitalized as soon as it got back to full strength as Ryan Olsen fired a backhand into the net to make it 5-3. Kelowna would cap the scoring as Madison Bowey would fire a slap shot into the net from the point to make it 6-3. Tri-City fought to get back into the game, but Jordon Cooke was solid down the stretch for the Rockets, stopping all 11 shots thrown his way in the third.
Plutnar extends his point streak to five with the goal tonight. Justin Feser had an assist tonight, which brings him to 296 points, four within becoming the seventh American to record 300 career points.
Luke Lee-Knight made 24 saves in the loss, while Cooke made 26 saves in the win.
The Americans will head back Kennewick for one game on Sunday, Jan. 13 to take on the Seattle Thunderbirds (16-23-2-1, 35 pts) in the Toyota Center. Game time is at 5:05 p.m. Seattle leads the series 2-1, with the Americans winning the last meeting 4-1 in Seattle before the winter break. The Thunderbirds are in a slump, currently on a 0-10-1-1 streak. NewsTalk 870 will broadcast the game beginning at 4:45 p.m. with the pregame show. WHL Live will stream the game online starting at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are still available at the Toyota Center Box Office, any Fred Meyer outlet, at any Ticketmaster location, or online at Ticketmaster.com.
Jack in the Box Three Stars:
1. Dylen McKinlay, Kelowna
2. Jordon Cooke, Kelowna
3. Connor Rankin, Tri-City