The Portland Winterhawks’ season came to an end Sunday as the Kelowna Rockets won Game 6 of the Western Conference Final 8-4 at the Moda Center in front of 8,490 fans to advance to the WHL Final.
Kelowna advances to face the Brandon Wheat Kings in the championship series.
The Hawks opened the scoring 6:16 into the game when Nic Petan fed the puck across to Chase De Leo, who fired it past Kelowna netminder Jackson Whistle for a 1-0 lead. Portland struck again at 9:06 when a mad scramble in front of the Rockets’ net ended with the puck getting on the stick of defenseman Adam Henry, who wired it through traffic to make it 2-0.
Portland cashed in again at 13:30 when De Leo got behind the defense, took a feed from Miles Koules and scored his second of the period for a 3-0 lead. Following the goal, Kelowna replaced Whistle in net with Michael Herringer.
The Rockets then got on the board at 14:45 on a goal by Madison Bowey to cut it to 3-1, which remained the score going into the second.
Kelowna struck again 4:12 into the second when Dillon Dube scored to cut Portland’s lead to 3-2, then tied it at 12:18 when Bowey scored shorthanded to make it 3-3.
It remained tied until 6:58 of the third when Tyson Baillie scored to give Kelowna their first lead at 4-3, but less than two minutes later Winterhawks defenseman Keoni Texeira got the puck in the slot and fired it over Herringer’s shoulder to even it again at 4-4.
However, the Rockets struck again with goals from Justin Kirkland and Cole Linaker midway through the third to make it 6-4. In the final two minutes, Dube and Chance Braid added empty net goals for an 8-4 final.
Winterhawks captain Nic Petan set a new WHL record in Sunday’s game by suiting up in his 88th career playoff game. That mark passes Shay Stevenson for sole possession of the league record. Stevenson played 87 postseason games with the Red Deer Rebels from 2000-2004.
With two assists, Petan also set a franchise record with a 17-game playoff point streak, passing Brendan Leipsic who had a 16-game streak last year. Petan finished with at least one point in each of the 17 playoff games this year.