April 18, 2014, Kelowna (ISN) – The Portland Winterhawks fell 5-4 to the Kelowna Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final Friday.
It was the Hawks who struck first just 33 seconds into the game when Oliver Bjorkstrand banged in a rebound for the early 1-0 lead. He struck again at the 5:49 mark when a tic-tac-toe passing play ended with Bjorkstrand firing a shot past Rockets netminder Jordon Cooke a 2-0 advantage. Portland cashed in on another power play at the 12:19 mark when Chase De Leo redirected a centering pass from Paul Bittner past Cooke for a 3-0 lead.
The Rockets got on the board less than a minute after De Leo’s goal when Tyson Baillie scored to cut the Hawks’ lead to 3-1. Kelowna added a shorthanded goal with under a minute to go on a one-timer from Madison Bowey to make it 3-2. Portland almost added a fourth goal at the end of the period when Bjorkstrand beat Cooke, but a video review showed the clock had reached 0.00 before the puck crossed the line and it remained 3-2 heading into the second.
The scoring pace slowed down in the second until Keoni Texeira took a drop pass from Dominic Turgeon and fired it past Cooke for a 4-2 Portland lead. The two-goal advantage only lasted 43 seconds though, as Kelowna’s Rourke Chartier once again cut it to a one goal lead as it was a 4-3 Hawks lead going into the third.
Kelowna tied the game for the first time since the opening moments when Justin Kirkland scored a power play goal 4:17 into the third, and followed with a goal from Jesse Lees at the 5:59 mark as the Rockets took a 5-4 lead. From there the Rockets fought off the Hawks’ attempt to get the equalizer as the home team finished with a 5-4 win.
Bjorkstrand and De Leo each had two points for the Hawks in the loss.
The two teams get back at it tomorrow for Game 2 at 7 p.m. in Kelowna.