Rockets head to Portland with a 2-0 WHL playoff series lead

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Marissa Baecker

KELOWNA - The Kelowna Rockets are en route to Portland for games three and four of the second round of the 2017 WHL Playoffs.

After a strong start to the series Head Coach Jason Smith says continuing their success will come from the team supporting each other.

"We have to continue to play solid team hockey. We need to keep playing with good support, good structure, and to continue executing at a high level," Smith said. "The first two games were a good start for us but now it's about game three and how we deal with the pressure and the energy that the Winterhawks will have playing in their home arena."

Though he's new to coaching in this league, Smith knows what to expect from the crowd heading into the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

"The atmosphere is going to be really good. They have good fans that love to support their team."

The Rockets head into Portland holding a 2-0 series lead.

Games three and four go on Tuesday night, April 11 and Wednesday night, April 12.

If necessary the series will shift back to Kelowna for game five on Friday, April 14.

The Series So Far:

Game One: The Rockets came out of the gates firing at will but Winterhawks netminder Cole Kehler held the two teams scoreless after one period, despite being outshot 21-7 in that frame. Calvin Thurkauf burst onto the scoreboard for the first time in the post season, finally solving Kehler in the second period. Less than a minute later Kole Lind scored his third, followed by Reid Gardiner who scored his sixth. Dillon Dube scored his fifth before the period was out and the Rockets took a 4-0 lead into the final frame. The Winterhawks pushed back in the third as Brad Ginnell picked up his second and Cody Glass scored his third but the Rockets held on for a 4-2 victory, with the final shots being 54-29 for Kelowna. Thurkauf led the Rockets with a goal and two assists.

Game Two: It took until the second period again but this time it was Kole Lind who got on the score sheet first midway through the period. Two minutes later Tomas Soustal tipped home his second of the playoffs. Before the second period was over Joachim Blichfeld cut the lead in half with his third of the post season for the Winterhawks. Six minutes into the third James Hilsendager took a wrist shot that found its way from the point to the back of the net for his first career playoff goal. Nick Merkley put home an empty netter to make the score 4-1 with just over a minute to play. Ryan Hughes responded immediately following that, but Merkley tallied a second empty netter for the Rockets to end game two with a 5-2 victory. Merkley led the Rockets with two goals and an assist.

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