Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rockets headed to final . . . Portland's Drive for Five ends . . . Santa Claus dies in Philly


In Portland, the Kelowna Rockets erased a 3-0 first-period deficit and went on to beat the Winterhawks, 8-4. . . . The Rockets won the Western Conference final, 4-2, closing it out with three straight victories. . . . Kelowna will travel to Brandon to open the WHL championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup with games on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The final will be played using a 2-3-2 format. . . . The Rockets last appeared in
the WHL final in the spring of 2009 when they beat the Calgary Hitmen in six games. . . . The Winterhawks were attempting to reach their fifth straight WHL final. . . . Portland led 3-0 before the first period was 14 minutes old, on goals from F Chase De Leo, his sixth, D Adam Henry (5) and De Leo, again. . . . De Leo drew an assist on Henry’s goal, for a three-point period. . . . D Madison Bowey scored his first of two goals to get the Rockets on the board at 14:45 of the first. . . . Kelowna F Dillon Dube, with his third, at 4:12, and Bowey, with a shorthanded goal, at 12:18, got the Rockets even. . . . Bowey has seven goals in these playoffs. . . . F Tyson Baillie gave Kelowna its first lead with his ninth goal, at 6:58 of the third. . . . Portland D Layne Viveiros tied it with his first goal at 8:12. . . . The Rockets then took control with goals from F Justin Kirkland, his second, at 10:35 and F Cole Linaker, his fourth, at 12:18. . . . Dube added his second of the game into an empty net with 1:32 to play and F Chance Braid got another empty-netter, his third goal of the playoffs, before game’s end. . . . Kelowna G Jackson Whistle, the first start in Games 4 and 5, got the hook after being beaten three times on eight shots. Michael Herringer came on to earn the victory, stopping 30 of 31 shots. . . . Portland G Adin Hill made 34 saves. . . . Baillie, F Gage Quinney, F Nick Merkley and D Cole Martin each had two assists for the Rockets. Martin was plus-5. . . . Dube added an assist to his two goals. . . . Portland F Nic Petan set a WHL record by playing in his 88th career playoff game. F Shay Stephenson (Red Deer, 2000-04) had held the record, at 87. . . . Petan had two assists as he set a franchise record by running his playoff point streak to 17 games. The previous record (16) was set by F Brendan Leipsic last season. . . . F Paul Bittner had two assists for Portland, while De Leo added one to his two goals. . . . Each team was 0-for-3 on the PP. . . . Attendance was 8,490. . . . Hodges Heroes has a look right here at some of the numbers and other things from Friday’s Game 5.
The Brandon Wheat Kings and Kelowna Rockets, the WHL’s two best teams in the regular season, will play for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . That series will follow a 2-3-2 format, opening with games in Brandon on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Wheat Kings have home-ice advantage because they finished with 114 regular-season points (53-11-8), while the Rockets had 112 (53-13-6). . . . The last time the top two regular-season teams met in the WHL final was 2003 when the Rockets (51-14-7) beat the Red Deer Rebels (50-17-5) in six games. . . . Cody Nickolet points out via Twitter that “Brandon and Kelowna were also the top two WHL teams in goal differential during the regular season, too. Kelowna +122, Brandon +121.” . . . Each of Brandon’s three playoff series has gone five games; Kelowna has played a four, a five and a six, in that order. . . . The Wheat Kings and Rockets met once this season, with Kelowna skating to a 6-1 victory at home on Oct. 25. F Nick Merkley had a goal and three assists in that one. . . . Going into the final, Portland F Nic Petan leads all playoff scorers with 28 points, two more than Calgary F Adam Tambellini. . . . Petan and Merkley lead in assists (18), while Tambellini and Portland F Oliver Bjorkstrand each had 13 goals. . . . Kelowna F Leon Draisaitl, who had one assist last night, is the leading active scorer, with 21 points. He had points in 13 of Kelowna’s 15 games. . . . F John Quenneville is Brandon’s top scorer, with 19 points.

During the first intermission of Sunday’s game, Regan Bartel, the play-by-play voice of the Kelowna Rockets, played an interview with Richard Doerksen, the WHL’s vice-president, hockey. One of the topic of conversations dealt with the use of cut-resistant socks in the WHL. This comes after Rockets F Tyrell Goulborne needed surgery to repair damage to his left calf after he suffered a skate cut during Game 5 of their series with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday night. . . . Doerksen told Bartel that the wearing of such socks has been discussed but that it is up to individual teams and players whether players wear them. . . . Shortly after the interview played, Greg Mayer, the Regina Pats’ athletic therapist, tweeted: “It's mandatory for all Pats players to wear cut resistant socks. Saved two players this year from Achilles' tendon injuries!” . . . And then Rogan Dean, the Edmonton Oil Kings’ head equipment manager, tweeted: “It's mandatory for everybody to wear them on the @EdmOilKings also. Has saved many players the last few years. #Kevlar.”
It was in December 1968 when fans of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles booed Santa Claus. Seriously! Well, Frank Olivo, the man who was Santa Claus that day, has died. There is more right here.

In the OHL, the Oshawa Generals beat the host North Bay Battalion 2-1 on Sunday to win that semifinal series, 4-2. . . . The Generals will meet the Erie Otters in the OHL final. . . . The QMJHL final features the Rimouski Oceanic and Quebec Remparts. Both of those teams are in the Memorial Cup because the Remparts are the host team.
Rob Sandrock, who played in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs, Swift Current Broncos, Medicine Hat Tigers and Kelowna Rockets (1994-99), is working to acquire a junior B franchise in the Kootenay International junior league for his hometown of Williams Lake, B.C. The Williams Lake Tribune has more right here.

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