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by Graham Kendrick

January 2, 2014, Portland (ISN) – The Portland Winterhawks (25-10-2-2) fell 7-2 to the Kelowna Rockets (32-3-0-2) Thursday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in front of 5,446 fans.

The Hawks opened the scoring 9:25 into the first period when Paul Bittner got around a Kelowna defenseman and fired the puck past netminder Jordon Cooke to make it 1-0. The Rockets tied it at the 13:46 mark on a goal by Jesse Lees, but just 34 seconds later Portland’s Ethan Price scored his second goal of the season to regain the lead at 2-1. Kelowna then tied it once again when Tyson Baillie scored at the 16:28 mark to make it 2-2 going into the second.

The Rockets went ahead 3:46 into the second on a power play goal from Myles Bell, then got a goal 41 seconds later from Carter Rigby to make it 4-2, leading to Jarrod Schamerhorn taking over in net for Brendan Burke. Bell scored his second power play goal of the game at the 6:45 mark as the visitors took a 5-2 lead, which remained the score heading into the third.

Baillie scored his second of the game 27 seconds into the third to give the Rockets a 6-2 lead, followed later in the period by a shorthanded goal from Ryan Olsen as they made it 7-2, which stood as the final.

The Hawks were once again without Taylor Leier, Nic Petan and Derrick Pouliot, who are all representing Canada at the World Junior Championship, and Brendan Leipsic, who’s serving a suspension.

The Hawks travel to Kennewick, WA tomorrow to take on the Tri-City Americans, then return home Saturday to host the Victoria Royals at the Coliseum.