(ISN) – The Vancouver Giants rallied from a 3-1 deficit, but would come up short in a shootout, losing 4-3 to the Kelowna Rockets Saturday night at Prospera Place in Kelowna to wrap up their 2011-2012 WHL regular season schedule. The Giants finish the year 40-26-2-4 and 86 points.
With 4th spot in the Western Conference already secured Don Hay left Brendan Gallagher, Neil Manning, and Adam Morrison at home for the eighth and final meeting of the year vs. the Rockets. Jackson Whistle made his first start since February 18 and he got some early offensive support as Marek Tvrdon scored his 30th goal of the year to put the visitors up 1-0. The Rockets would get the equalizer before the period was out to tie things at 1-1 after 20 minutes.
With Dalton Sward in the penalty box to start the second period, Kelowna wasted little time finding the back of the net, 25 seconds into the frame to take a 2-1 lead. There were no other goals in the period thanks to Whistle. He stopped 20 of 21 shots he faced in the second period. 2-1 was the score through 40 minutes in favour of the Rockets.
Kelowna extended their lead to two goals 3:37 into the third period, as Jesse Lees beat Whistle to give the Rockets a 3-1 lead. The Giants wouldn’t quit and with just under 6 minutes remaining Scott Cooke banged home his 1st career WHL goal to cut the lead to 3-2. 2:55 later Tvrdon tied the game, beating Adam Brown on a shorthanded breakaway for his 2nd of the night and 31st goal of the season. 3-3 was the score through 60 minutes, meaning overtime was needed.
Five minutes of overtime solved nothing and in the shootout the only player to score was Zach Franko to give the Rockets a 4-3 win. Tvrdon, Jordan Martinook, and Matt Bellerive were all stopped by Adam Brown. Whistle was outstanding on the night making 44 saves in a losing cause. The Giants finished the season series vs. the Rockets 3-3-0-2.
The Giants now gear up for the opening round of the 2012 WHL playoffs vs. the Spokane Chiefs. The best of seven series gets started Friday March 23, 2012 at the Pacific Coliseum. Puck drop is 7:30 pm. The pregame show begins at 7:05 pm on AM 650.