Kelowna Rockets advances to the second round

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After a delayed start to game six of the first round of the 2017 WHL Playoffs the Kelowna Rockets defeated the Kamloops Blazers 4-2 on Sunday night in Kamloops to advance to the second round.

The start of the game was delayed an hour as the referee’s were stuck in a road delay on the Coquihalla during their commute to the game, so an outside ref squad was called in.

At 11:57 of the opening frame Dillon Dube ripped home his fourth of the post season to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead that they held into the second period.

Reid Gardiner notched his third of the playoffs at 5:36 of the second period and the Rockets took a 2-0 lead into the final frame.

After the Blazers had a goal disallowed due to a high stick, Collin Shirley got Kamloops on the board at 16:49. Then at 17:46 Brodi Stuart scored to knot the game at 2-2. That momentum was quickly dashed as Gardiner potted his second of the night at 18:03 to regain the Rockets lead. Gardiner then completed his hat trick with 23 seconds remaining to secure a 4-2 Rockets victory.

Michael Herringer made 21 saves in a winning effort as the Rockets ousthot the Blazers 35-23.

Reid Gardiner led the Rockets with three goals. Dillon Dube (1G, 1A), Cal Foote (2A), and Nick Merkley (2A) also enjoyed multi-point nights.

Reid Gardiner says he couldn’t have enjoyed tonight’s success without his linemates.

“I have to give credit to my linemates. On my second goal Devo (Devante Stephens) had a great push and opened up a little seam and Merks (Nick Merkley) found me there,” said Gardiner. “And then on the empty netter we buckled down and got the job done so all the credit to those guys. Thurks (Calvin Thurkauf) had a good game again too.”

Kelowna wins the series 4-2 to advance to the second round. They await the winner of the Prince George Cougars versus the Portland Winterhawks series to determine their next opponent. Portland currently leads that series 3-2

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