April 11, 2013, Kamloops, BC (ISN) – The Kamloops Blazers defeated the Kelowna Rockets 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday night in Kamloops, completing a four game sweep of the Rockets and advancing to the WHL Western Conference final.
Kale Kessy deflected a point shot in for the winning goal at 2:24 of overtime to give Kamloops the win, the second straight overtime victory by the Blazers over a game Kelowna club.
The Rockets trailed 3-1 entering the third period against the Blazers but put on a furious push in the third to tie the game. JT Barnett made the score 3-2 before Cole Linaker tied the game 3-3 and sent it to overtime.
“Like we’ve said all year this group has lots of character and tonight was no different,” said Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert on the AM1150 post game show. “When we were down 3-1 we battled and we kept with the game plan and we had to kill more penalties. It was a very, very gutsy efffort by our guys tonight.”
Special teams was the difference in the game as the Blazers had 11 chances on the power play and scored three times while the Rockets had just one chance with the man advantage.
Tyson Baillie returned from a two game suspension and had the other Rockets goal, plus an assist while goalie Jordon Cooke was stellar in net, facing 45 shots on net.
The loss ends an amazing and record setting season for the Kelowna Rockets who won 52 regular season games and a franchise record 23 game home winning streak. The team also suffered several injuries down the stretch and played the playoffs minus captain Colton Sissons, veteran D-man MacKenzie Johnston and as many as seven regulars.
Lambert said it’s a tough loss but when you look at the season, it was a great effort by the team.
“When you look at the 52 wins, the winningest team ever in Kelowna Rockets history, I think the reason we won so many games was because of the character and the depth that we had,” he said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow when you lose but when you look at what we did without six or seven injured guys, you think what we could have done with a healthy lineup.”