Ethan Bear scored a power-play goal with 12 seconds left to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 win over the Kelowna Rockets in Game 1 of the WHL Western Conference championship series Friday night at the ShoWare Center
Game 2 is 7:05 p.m. Saturday at ShoWare.
The T-Birds gained a power play when the Rockets put the puck of play from their zone with two minutes left in the game. The T-Birds pressured the Rockets on the power play but gave up a shorthanded break to Devante Stephens with 30 seconds left in the game. Carl Stankowski made a solid blocker save on Stephens to keep the game tied 4-4.
Off a faceoff win by Mathew Barzal with 16 seconds left, Sami Moilanen fed the puck to Austin Strand at the right point. Strand crossed the puck to Bear in the left circle. Bear one-timed Strand’s pass, beating Kelowna Michael Herringer over the blocker with 12 seconds on the clock.
The Rockets took the ensuing faceoff into the Seattle zone and Stankowski made a scrambling save to preserve the win for the T-Birds. Stankowski finished with 29 saves on 33 shots and is now 9-0 in the playoffs.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead at the10-minute mark of the first period on a goal from Ryan Gropp. Barzal passed the puck from the left corner to Jarret Tyszka at the left point. Tyszka took a wrist shot that Gropp tipped past Herringer for his second goal of the playoffs.
Kelowna tied the game 1-1 at 19:53 of the first on a power-play goal from Kole Lind. Erik Gardiner and Dillon Dube had the assists.
Kelowna outshot Seattle 10-8 in the first period.
The Rockets went in front 2-1 at 1:09 of the second period on a goal from Erik Gardiner. Calvin Thurkauf and Nick Merkley had the assists.
The T-Birds tied the game 2-2 with three seconds left in the second. Donovan Neuls passed the puck to Sami Moilanen who streaked down the left wing. Moilanen put a backhand shot on net that rebounded into the slot to Alexander True trailing the play. True snapped the rebound past Herringer for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
The Rockets outshot the T-Birds 15-7 in the second and led 25-15 in shots after two periods.
Turner Ottenbreit gave the T-Birds a 3-2 lead 52 seconds into the third period. Keegan Kolesar passed the puck up to Gropp on the left wing and he carried it into the Kelowna zone. Ottenbreit skated hard down the slot, put his stick on the ice and Gropp made a saucer pass to the defenseman that went off his stick and over Herringer’s left shoulder. It was Ottenbreit’s first goal of the playoffs and he is the 16th T-Bird to score a goal in the playoffs.
Seattle went in front 4-2 at 3:52 of the second on a goal from Moilanen. Scott Eansor forced a turnover along the right boards in the Kelowna zone. The puck came to Nolan Volcan at the right point. Volcan took a shot that rebounded off Herringer right to Moilanen. Moilanen slid the rebound past the goalie for his third goal of the playoffs.
Tomas Soustal scored a power-play goal at 5:53 of the third to cut the T-Birds lead to one goal. Nolan Foote and Stephens had the assists.
The Rockets tied the game 4-4 at the 15-minute mark of the third on a goal by Thurkauf. Gardiner and Lucas Johansen had the assists.
Seattle outshot Kelowna 10-8 in the third period. The Rockets finished with a 33-25 advantage in shots.
Herringer made 20 saves on 25 shots and his playoff record is now 8-4.
Western Conference Championship
Game 1 – At Seattle 5, Kelowna 4
Game 2 – Kelowna at Seattle, Saturday, April 22, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Seattle at Kelowna, Tuesday, April 25, 7:05 p.m
Game 4 – Seattle at Kelowna, Wednesday, April 26, 7:05 p.m
Game 5 – Kelowna at Seattle, Friday, April 28, 7:35 p.m*
Game 6 – Seattle at Kelowna, Sunday, April 30, 5:05 p.m*
Game 7 – Kelowna at Seattle, Tuesday, May 2, 7:05 p.m*
* if necessary
Single-game tickets Game 2 are on sale online on the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare Center box office. The box office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
First period – 1, Seattle, Gropp 2 (Tyszka, Barzal), 10:00. 2, Kelowna, Lind 4 (E. Gardiner, Dube), 19:53 (pp). Penalties – Ottenbreit, Sea (charging), 4:28. Thurkauf, Kel (holding), Strand, Sea (tripping), 19:08.
Second period – 3, Kelowna, E. Gardiner 13 (Thurkauf, Merkley), 1:09. 4, Seattle, True 5 (Moilanen, Neuls), 19:57. Penalties – Kolesar, Sea (tripping), 5:59. Adams, Sea (kneeing), 16:01.
Third period – 5, Seattle, Ottenbreit 1 (Gropp, Kolesar), :52. 6, Seattle, Moilanen 3 (Volcan, Eansor), 3:52. 7, Kelowna, Soustal 3 (N. Foote, Stephens), 5:53 (pp). 8, Kelowna, Thurkauf 6 (E. Gardiner, Johansen), 15:00 (pp). 9, Seattle, Bear 4 (Strand, Moilanen), 19:48. Penalties – Bear, Sea (high-sticking), 4:15. Barzal, Sea (cross checking), 6:00. Ottenbreit, Sea (hooking), 13:59. Dube, Kel (delay of game), 18:00.
Shots on goal – Seattle 8-7-10 25, Kelowna 10-15-8 33. Goalies – Seattle, Stankowski 33 shots-29 saves (9-0); Kelowna, Herringer 25-20 (8-4). Power plays – Seattle 1-2; Kelowna 3-7. A – 4,001. Referees – Mike Campbell, Jeff Ingram. Linesmen – Michael McGowan, Nathan Van Oosten.