April 24, 2014 - 4:23 AM
The Portland Winterhawks defeated the Kelowna Rockets 5-1 on Wednesday night in Portland, grabbing a three-games-to-one lead in the team's WHL Western Conference Final.
Nic Petan scored three times for the Winterhawks while Nick Merkley was the lone Rockets player to score in the game as Portland outshot Kelowna 36-32
Merkley, 16, opened the scoring in the first period as the 16-year-old rookie continued to lead the offense, scoring his fourth goal and 17th point to sit first in Rockets playoff scoring.
The game was tied 1-1 through twenty minutes.
"We really did have a good first period," said Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert, on the AM1150 post game show. "We felt we played the way we needed to. Unfortunately in the second we started taking penalties and that changed the game. If you give Portland enough chances on the power play they are going to hurt you."
Portland was 3-for 5 with the man advantage while Kelowna was 0-for-5. The Winterhaks and also scored a short-handed marker and an empty netter.
"We were better than we were defensively last night," said Lambert. "Their goalie made some big saves on our power play and they did a good job with their penalty kill."
After Kelowna won the first game of the series, Portland has now won three straight. The series now shifts back to Kelowna for game five on Friday night at Prospera Place where the first two games of the series were sold out.
"We played the right way in the first period," said Lambert. "But we need to do that for 60 minutes on Friday night. We can play with this team but it has to be a complete effort. We need a good solid hockey game from 20 players."
Tickets are available for game five through www.selectyourtickets.com, the box office or 250-762-5050.
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