KELOWNA, B.C. – Kelowna may be called the Lake City, but for the Americans on Wednesday night, it was certainly no place for a picnic.
Brett Bulmer scored twice as five different players scored to lead the host Kelowna Rockets (11-12-2-1, 25 pts) to a 6-2 upset win over the Tri-City Americans (19-7-0-0, 38 pts) in front of 6,018 fans at Prospera Place. With the win, the Rockets take a 2-1 lead in the 4-game season series with Tri-City, with both wins coming on home ice. Meanwhile, the Americans, who came in having won 6 of their last 7 road games, saw a 4-game winning streak snapped while dropping their third straight contest in the Kelowna.
While playing in the road, the Cardinal Rule is to not fall behind early, but Tri-City quickly faced a 1-0 deficit on Wednesday. Just 2:08 into the contest, Colton Heffley fired a shot off from the slot, beating Ty Rimmer for the game’s first goal.
Tri-City, though, atoned for their early mishap by scoring two late goals, taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. With 2:14 left in the first, Connor Rankin’s third attempt to beat Jordon Cooke finally evaded the Kelowna netminder, knotting the game at 1. Then, two minutes later, and with 14.6 left in the period, Patrick Holland went coast-to-coast, eventually beating Cooke with a wraparound attempt at the near post, to briefly give the Americans the lead.
But the Rockets got another quick response to start the second period, which proved to be just the start of 5 unanswered Kelowna goals, putting the game out of reach. Only 1:18 into the second, Shane McColgan set up Bulmer back door, beating Rimmer at the far post.
Kelowna then tacked on two more late in the period, giving the Rockets a 4-2 edge after 40 minutes. With 6:44 left in the second, and on the power play, Colton Sissons let a blast go from the right circle that glanced off the cross bar, and past Rimmer, for his team-leading 14th goal of the season. Then, less than three minutes later, Tanner Moar let a shot go that beat Rimmer between his pads, notching just his second goal of the season.
To start the third period, Tri-City coach Jim Hiller opted to start back-up Eric Comrie in net, looking to see if the move could spark his team.
However, the Rockets tacked on two more goals in the period to round out the scoring. At the 7:45 mark, and back on the power play, Bulmer’s shot from the high slot found its way through traffic and beneath Comrie’s stick, giving Kelowna a 3-goal cushion. Finally, with less than a minute to play in regulation, MacKenzie Johnston made a great play to keep the puck in the Tri-City zone, and then fired off a shot from the left point. Comrie made the save, but was unable to control the rebound, which kicked out into the slot. There to take advantage was Carter Rigby, who had a slam dunk for his sixth goal of the season.
Cooke finished the night by stopping 20 of the 22 shots he faced, collecting his second win of the season. Meanwhile, Rimmer, in 40 minutes of work, had 19 saves on 23 shots to record the loss. Comrie collected 8 saves through 20 minutes of relief. Tri-City finished the night 0-for-2 on the power play, while Kelowna went 2-of-6 on the man-advantage.
Despite suffering their second-worst loss of the season, the Americans wrapped up a stellar month of November, going 8-2. Their .800 winning percentage was the franchise’s best-ever mark for November, despite a 10-win month of November in 1998-99 and three 9-win Novembers in 91-92, 95-96 and 08-09.
Tri-City will look to right the ship on Friday, December 2 when they head back across the mountains for a meeting with the division rival Seattle Thunderbirds (11-12-0-1). Game time is 7:35 p.m. at ShoWare Center. Seattle, which handed Tri-City a 3-0 loss in their first meeting two weeks ago, comes in having won 4 of their last 5 home games and 4 of their last 6 games overall. Meanwhile, the Americans will be looking to avoid dropping back-to-back games for just the second time this season. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL WebTV, at Kimo’s, the Americans’ home away from home, starting at 7:35 p.m. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 7:15 p.m.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Tanner Moar, Kelowna
2, Brett Bulmer, Kelowna
3, Jordon Cooke, Kelowna