Kelowna Wins Game 3 7-2, Ams Still Lead Series 2-1Posted: Updated:
KELOWNA, BC - You knew it was only going to be a matter of time.
Tri-City had contained the Rockets' high-flying offense through the first two games of their conference semi-final match-up. But, Tuesday's Game 3 saw Kelowna's potent roster exploit an injury-depleted Americans' line-up.
Jamie Benn had a four-point night, while Tyler Myers and Cody Almond each notched three points as the Kelowna Rockets (5-2-0, 10 pts) dismantled the visiting Tri-City Americans (6-2-0, 12 pts) 7-2 in front of 5,268 fans at Prospera Place. With the win, the Rockets cut Tri-City's two-game series lead in half and have forced a Game 5 later this week. Meanwhile, the Americans suffered just their second post-season loss this year, while being held to a season-low 16 shots on goal. The two will meet again tomorrow, Wednesday, April 8 for Game 4 at Prospera Place. Game time is 7:00 p.m.
Entering Game 3, the home team had won all six prior meetings this season between the two clubs. The Rockets made sure that trend continued on Tuesday, dominating the flow of the contest.
At the 11:07 mark of the first period, Mikael Backlund slipped a shot inside the left post, putting the Rockets on top early. Then, with 1:37 remaining in the period and on the power play, Stepan Novotny connected from the slot, making it a 2-0 game headed into the first break.
All before the halfway point of the second period, the Rockets connected three more times on the man-advantage, putting the game out of reach. The first came just 2:17 into the period, as Cody Almond beat Chet Pickard from inside the slot. Only 1:07 later, Ian Duval made it 4-0, as his shot bounced off Pickard's left pad, popped up into the air, and rolled behind the Americans' netminder. Then, at the 9:55 mark of the period, Tyler Myers fired a blast from the high slot, registering his first goal of the series.
Later in the period, the Americans, who were playing without captain Taylor Procyshen, missing his first game all season, along with Jason Reese, Spencer Asuchak and defenseman Brett Plouffe, tried to make a game of it. With 7:18 remaining in the second and on a 5-on-3 power play, Justin Feser registered his third goal of the playoffs, beating Mark Guggenberger between his pads.
But, with less than a minute remaining in the period and from behind the net, Colin Long sent a perfect pass to Lucas Bloodoff, beating Pickard to make it 6-1 at the end of two periods of play. It would be the last appearance from Pickard, who was replaced by Brett Martyniuk to start the third.
Early into the final period, Tri-City again tried to get something going. Just 20 seconds into the period, 15-year-old call-up Zach Yuen sent a drive from the right circle, beating Guggenberger between his pads to collect his first post-season and WHL point.
However, at the 10-minute mark of the period, Benn launched a nice shot over the right shoulder of Martyniuk, capping the scoring in the contest. Martyniuk stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced, while Pickard had 18 saves in the loss. Meanwhile, Guggenberger collected 14 saves in the win.
After suffering their most lopsided playoff loss since a 7-1 home loss to Seattle in Game 1 of last year's conference semi-finals, the Americans will attempt to rebound tomorrow in Game 4 and snap a three-game road losing skid at Prospera Place. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL WebTV, at the Americans' home away from home, Kimo's Sports Café and R.F. McDougall's in Richland, starting at 7:00 p.m. And, as always, the game will be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
U.S. Cellular Three Stars:
1, Jamie Benn, Kelowna
2, Cody Almond, Kelowna
3, Tyler Myers, Kelowna