KELOWNA, CANADA - APRIL 30: Nolan Volcan #26 of the Seattle Thunderbirds checks Reid Gardiner #23 of the Kelowna Rockets on April 30, 2017 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze) *** Local Caption ***
KELOWNA, April 30, 2017 – The Seattle Thunderbirds won their second consecutive Western Conference Championship Sunday at Prospera Place with a 3-1 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. The T-Birds won the best-of-seven series 4-2.
The T-Birds will face the Regina Pats in the WHL Championship. The Pats defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes 7-4 Sunday to win their Eastern Conference Championship series 4-2.
Game 1 of the WHL Championship is Friday, May 5, in Regina at 6pm. Game 2 is Saturday, May 6, at 6pm in Regina.
The series switches to ShoWare Center for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is a Directors Mortgage 2-for-Tuesday game on Tuesday, May 9, at 7:05pm. Game 4 will be a Whiteout Wednesday game at 7:05pm on Wednesday, May 10
The T-Birds swept the Rockets 4-0 to win the 2015-16 Western Conference Championship.
Seattle goalie Carl Stankowski made 17 saves in Game 6 to get the win and improve his playoff record to 12-2.
Kelowna took a 1-0 lead at 15:57 of first period on a power-play goal by Nolan Foote. Lucas Johansen and Nick Merkley had the assists.
The T-Birds killed off a five-minute major to Keegan Kolesar over the last 3:52 of the first period and the first 1:08 of the second period without allowing a shot on goal.
Kelowna outshot Seattle 4-1 in the first period.
The T-Birds tied the game 1-1 at 4:56 of the second period. Donovan Neuls passed the puck from the right corner to Austin Strand at the right point. Strand crossed the puck to Jarret Tyszka who sent it right back to Strand. Strand took a wrist shot with traffic in front of Kelowna goalie Michael Herringer that found the back of the net.
Seattle took a 2-1 lead on a 5-on-3 power-play goal by Alexander True at 9:30 of the second period. True banged in a loose puck from the slot for his eighth goal of the playoffs. Neuls and Mathew Barzal had the assists.
The T-Birds extended the lead to 3-1 at 15:14 of the second. Ryan Gropp passed the puck along the blue line to Aaron Hyman at the right point. Hyman skated forward and found Barzal at the back door on the bottom of the left circle. Barzal put the puck over Herringer as the goalie tried to get over.
Seattle outshot Kelowna 11-5 in the second period and led 12-9 in shots after two periods.
The Rockets pulled Herringer with 2:48 left in the game while on the power play for a six-on-four advantage. Stankowski made several spectacular saves, including stopping Reid Gardiner in close with a left pad save, as the T-Birds were able to hold off the Rockets.
The T-Birds outshot the Rockets 10-9 in the third period and 22-18 in the game.
Herringer stopped 19 of 22 shots and his record in the playoffs finished at 10-7.
Western Conference Championship
Game 1
At Seattle 5, Kelowna 4
Game 2 Kelowna 4, at Seattle 3, OT
Game 3 Seattle 2, at Kelowna 1
Game 4 At Kelowna 4, Seattle 2
Game 5 At Seattle 5, Kelowna 3
Game 6 Seattle 3, at Kelowna 1
First period – 1, Kelowna, N. Foote 2 (Johansen, Merkley), 15:57 (pp). Penalties – Johansen, Kel (hooking), 6:43. Volcan, Sea (hooking), 10:55. Ottenbreit, Sea (delay of game), 15:09. Kolesar, Sea (major-checking from behind, game misconduct), 16:08.
Second period – 2, Seattle, Strand 4 (Tyszka, Neuls), 4:56. 3, Seattle, True 8 (Eansor, Barzal), 9:30 (pp). 4, Seattle, Barzal 5 (Hyman, Gropp), 15:14.
Penalties – Dube, Kel (slashing), 7:52. Thurkauf, Kel (face off violation), 7:54. Bishop, Sea (holding opponents stick), 12:42. Bishop, Sea (hooking), 12:42. Tyszka, Sea (tripping), 16:36.
Third period – No scoring. Penalties – Merkley, Kel (slashing), 9:39. C. Foote, Kel (cross checking), 9:56. Harsch, Sea (slashing), 15:57.
Shots on goal – Seattle 1-11-10 22, Kelowna 4-5-9 18. Goalies – Seattle, Stankowski 18 shots-17 saves (12-2); Kelowna, Herringer 22-19 (10-6). Power plays – Seattle 1-5; Kelowna 1-7. A – 5,846. Referees – Steve Papp, Reagan Vetter. Linesmen – Nick Bilko, Nathan Van Oosten.