by Ben Tole
March 28, 2014, Kelowna, B.C (ISN) – The Tri-City Americans (1-4) gave the Kelowna Rockets (4-1) everything it could handle in game 5 of the Western Conference Quarter finals, but in the end the CHL’s top ranked team proved to be too much as it eliminated the Americans from the playoffs with a 4-1 win at Prospera Place on Friday night.
The loss closes the book on an up and down season for the Americans, who were faced with a tough challenge playing in the strong U.S. Division, while being faced with injury problems throughout the entire season.
After an initial push by the Rockets in the opening minutes, the Americans began to dictate the play early in the game, recording multiple opportunities to open the scoring.
However, it would be Kelowna to score first, taking momentum back at the 6:55 mark when Carter Rigby took the centering feed from Cole Linaker in the slot, wristing it past Comrie to give his team the 1-0 advantage.
The Rockets had several opportunities to extend its lead during the first 20 minutes of play, but Comrie made several key saves, turning aside 16 shots as the Americans were outshot 17-7, yet trailed just 1-0 after the first period of play.
Marek Tvrdon gave the Rockets a 2-0 lead at the 13:05 mark of the second period. After Rourke Chartier’s initial shot whistled wide, the Slovakia native took advantage off of a fortuitous bounce off the end boards, as it ricochet back to the front of the net.
Tri-City managed to find some success offensively in the second period, firing 11 shots at Jordon Cooke in the middle frame.
Following a Mitchell Wheaton hooking penalty, Parker Bowles took advantage, cutting the two-goal deficit in half on a give-and-go play with Phil Tot, snapping a wrist shot past Cooke, as the Americans trailed just 2-1 after the second period of play.
Tri-City threw everything it had at Kelowna in the third period, testing Cooke with three tremendous scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the final frame, but the Western Conference’s first team All Star net minder kept the one-goal lead intact with three big saves.
Following a Jessey Astles boarding penalty, Tvrdon gave the Rockets an insurance marker with his second goal of the game, skating the puck out of the corner and backhanding it past Comrie to give Kelowna a 3-1 lead.
The Rockets would add one more goal late in the game, but in the end, the Americans would never generate the offense it needed to get by the Rockets, being held to just one goal for the third time in the series.
The Americans will say goodbye to its three overage players in Astles, Phil Tot and Mitch Topping who have played their final game in the WHL and will look to the future as it attempts to fill their big shoes during the 2014-15 season. Tri-City will return a talented group of young players who made up the youngest team in the WHL this season as it prepares for another exciting year of Americans hockey.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Jordan Cooke, Kelowna
2) Marek Tvrdon, Kelowna
3) Carter Rigby, Kelowna.