The Kelowna Rockets are back home on Friday night to host game five of the first round of the 2017 WHL Playoffs versus the Kamloops Blazers.
Head Coach Jason Smith says his team is taking things day-by-day, not looking too far ahead.
“We have to take the same approach we’ve taken to the whole series so far. We’ve just gone about it game-by-game and worried about making sure our compete level is where it needs to be,” said Smith. “We obviously expect a big push back from them so we need to make sure we’re ready to start the game.”
The Rockets and Blazers split games three and four in Kamloops. On Tuesday Kamloops won game three 4-1 and the next night Kelowna took game four 1-0. Smith says the biggest difference between the two games was simplicity.
“Our execution was much better. In game three obviously the score was a little one-sided but I think throughout the game we did some good things, and last night we did a better job of controlling the puck in the o-zone and not trying to make hard plays,” Smith said. “Last night we made simple plays, we kept possession of the puck whether that was putting it up to the top for a shot or just cycling behind the net, it gave us an opportunity to maintain possession and play in the offensive end.”
The Rockets come back into Kelowna holding a 3-1 series lead making Friday night a possible elimination game.
The series so far:
Game one: Kelowna outshot Kamloops 48-15 en route to a 4-0 victory led by power forward Carsen Twarynski who notched two goals in the effort to open up the first round of the 2017 WHL Playoffs.
Game two: Kelowna held a 1-0 lead for much of the game thanks to some goaltending heroics by Michael Herringer until Dillon Dube potted a shorthanded goal, followed by a power play goal. Dube got the Rockets up 3-0 but Kamloops didn’t give up. The Blazers stormed back with two late goals to draw within one but Herringer and the Rockets held on for a 3-2 victory.
Game three: The series shifted to Kamloops and the Blazers made sure the Rockets knew it. A back and forth run and gun style game showed the Blazers taking game three 4-1. Kole Lind produced the only Rockets tally of the night. Both teams peppered the opposing goalies, finishing the game tied with 38 shots each but Connor Ingram with a strong outing combined with Alaskan ace Lane Bauer notching his first two of the series allowed the Blazers to extend the series with their first win.
Game four: Kelowna seemed to enter game four on a mission. The Rockets collected a 1-0 victory but if it wasn’t for the all-star goaltending of Connor Ingram it could’ve been much worse. The Rockets outshot the Blazers 40-14 after two periods of play but only notched one goal thanks to Dillon Dube sniping one past the Blazers backstop. Fans got to watch some spectacular playoff goaltending at both ends of the ice. Shots ended up 49-24 for Kelowna with Michael Herringer collecting his second shutout of the post season in the 1-0 win.
Game five goes on Friday night at 7:05pm at Prospera Place in Kelowna.
If necessary, game six will be on Sunday, April 2nd at 7:00pm in Kamloops.