April 04, 2013 - 12:38 PM
By Jennifer Stahn
The Kamloops Blazers will face off against the Kelowna Rockets in the second round of Western Hockey League playoffs in a series sure to pull in big scores under the leadership of the top two point getters in the first round.
The Blazers earned their spot in the Western Conference semi-final after defeating the Victoria Royals 4-2 in the first-round series. JC Lipon earned a league-leading 14 points in those six games, improving on the 89 points he earned during the regular season.
The Rockets faced a slightly tougher challenge in the first round, dropping 3-0 to the Seattle Thunderbirds early in the series after losing all three games in overtime. The Rockets then rallied, winning four straight games including two overtime wins. Game seven was a nail-biter that saw the Thunderbirds tie the game with only seven seconds remaining but the Rockets refocused in overtime to win the game, and the series. Tyson Baillie is currently second in points for the playoffs, with 12 points in seven games and is tied for first with seven playoff goals.
The division rivalry saw the Blazers best the Rockets during the regular season - winning six of their 10 meetings and half of those games saw the teams within a single point of each other, including two overtime victories for Kamloops.
In addition to some tight games the matchups brought in some of the best attendance numbers of the season, with all but one game filling well over 5,000 seats.
Kelowna finished the season with 52 wins and 108 points, enough for a second place finish in both the conference and the league, while Kamloops finished the season with the exact same record as last year, 47-20-2-3, garnering them a fourth place finish overall.
Last season the Winterhawks swept Kelowna in the first round of playoffs before defeating the Blazers 4-3 in the second round.
The two B.C. Division teams will battle out the second round starting at Prospera Place in Kelowna this weekend. They will play Saturday, April 6, and Sunday in Kelowna before heading to the Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops for games three and four on Tuesday and Wednesday. If needed game five will be back in Kelowna on Friday, April 12, game six in Kamloops on Sunday, April 14, and game seven in Kelowna on Tuesday, April 16.
The other conference semi-final will see Portland face Spokane while the Eastern Conference will feature Calgary versus Red Deer and Edmonton at Medicine Hat.
Tickets for playoff games can be purchased by calling the Blazers box office at 250-828-3339, in person at the box office or online through Ticketmaster.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013