Kelowna, B.C. – The Tri-City Americans (0-1-0-0) gave the CHL’s top team all it could handle but fell just short, as the Kelowna Rockets (1-0-0-0) defeated the Americans 3-1 in the Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarter Finals series Saturday night at Prospera Place.
The Americans now trail 1-0 in the best of seven series, with an opportunity to come away with a two game split tomorrow evening in the Game 2, before returning to the Toyota Center for Games 3 and 4 next week.
Eric Comrie made the first playoff start of his WHL career, turning in a 32-save outing against a dangerous Rockets’ offense, while keeping his team within striking distance for all 60 minutes.
After controlling the play in the opening minutes of the game, the Rockets opened the scoring at 7:09 of the first period. Mitchell Weaton’s initial shot from the point was blocked, but the puck made its way to a wide open Rourke Chartier, capitalizing with a back hand shot.
But, following a Myles Bell roughing penalty at 13:19, the Americans began pressuring for the tying goal after going to its first power play of the game. While the team did not score on the man advantage, it did swing the momentum for the first time in the game.
After a Kelowna penalty late in the first period, Brian Williams finished off a beautiful passing play, one timing a puck past a sprawling Jordon Cooke, tying the game on the power play just 47 seconds into the second period.
Following the tying score, the Americans pushed for the go ahead goal, pressuring the Rockets deep in its own zone for the next five minutes. Tri-City’s attack would be slowed by a delay of game penalty at the 6:15 mark, putting the Rockets back on the offensive.
Tri-City would kill off the first penalty in the second period, but Kelowna would regain its one goal advantage on its next man advantage, scoring with a Bell point shot at the 17:53 mark.
Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Americans came out strong, looking to equalize the game for the second time. Despite outshooting Kelowna 10-7 in the final 20 minutes of play, the team was unable to beat Cooke for the tying score.
With just over two minutes remaining, the Americans pulled Comrie for the extra attacker, looking to force overtime with the 6-on-5 man advantage. But, Chartier would extend the Rockets’ lead with an empty net goal at 19:17, icing Game 1 for Kelowna.
The Americans will return to Prospera Place for Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarter finals, tomorrow evening for a 5:05 p.m. faceoff. Fans can catch the action live, via WHL Live, at the Americans’ official home away from home, Kimo’s in Richland.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Rourke Chartier, Kelowna
2) Jordon Cooke, Kelowna
3) Eric Comrie, Tri-City