A three goal outburst in the 3rd period propelled the Okanagan Rockets past the Valley West Hawks 5-4 in Game 1 of the BCMML Semi Final Series on Friday night at the Capital News Centre.
Liam Finlay notched his 1st career BCMML playoff hat trick and now has 7 goals in 3 games this spring for the Rockets. Finlay scored twice in a: 47 second span to give the Rockets a 3rd period lead and an insurance marker, making it 5-3 with 8:03 to go. It turned out the Rockets needed both of those goals badly as a late power play goal from the Hawks Davis Koch closed the gap to 5-4 with just 32 seconds left and the net empty on the power play. Try as they might, the Hawks couldn't find the equalizer in the game's final half minute.
The Rockets got the start they had hoped for as they outshot the Hawks 9-1 in the early stages of the 1st. They were finally rewarded at the 17:49 mark of the 1st period when Tyson Jost, who was celebrating his 16th birthday, beat Hawks netminder Cole Forbes on a breakaway making 1-0 after 20.
The 2nd stanza was literally all Hawks after the Rockets jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to Finlay's 1st of the night just 5:29 into the period. The Hawks would go on to outshoot the Rockets 17-5 and score 3 times in a 6 minute stretch to take a 3-2 lead to the locker room after 2 periods.
After a massive 5-on-3 penalty kill to keep the score 3-2 halfway through the 3rd period, the Rockets vaunted offence went to work.
Tanner Campbell notched his 3rd of the playoffs at 10:20 on the power play to pull the Rockets even at 3-3. It was then Finlay's turn to take over as he scored those two massive goals just 47 seconds apart. Tyson Jost assisted on both.
Tanner Wishnowski, fresh of his WHL debut with the Kelowna Rockets was huge again with 3 assists and several bone crushing hits. Wishnowski now has 5 assists in his 2 playoff games.
Brendan Barry went the distance in goal as he turned aside 29 Valley West Hawks shots for his 3rd win of the playoffs. Cole Forbes suffered his 1st loss of the spring with a 24 save performance.
Game 2 of the best of 3 semi-final goes tomorrow afternoon at the Capital News Centre. Game time is 3:30. The Hawks will look to keep their tremendous season alive, while the Rockets will look to advance to the BCMML Championship final for the 2nd straight season.
Jost now leads the BCMML playoff scoring race with 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points in just 3 playoff games.
The Rockets won for the 1st time this season when trailing after 40 minutes. During the Regular Season, the Rockets were 0-3-1 in that situation.
The Rockets are now 21-0-1 at the Capital News Centre this season, and 29-0-1 in Kelowna.
Tanner Browne was assessed a game misconduct at the 20:00 minute mark of the 3rd period and will be forced to sit out game 2 with a 1 game suspension.
Rockets were 2 for 5 with power play while the Hawks were 2-7. The Rockets are now 5 for 9 with the man advantage in the playoffs.