Kelowna Rockets’ forward Dillon Dube battles Seattle’s Austin Strand in Game 5 of the WHL’s Western Conference final Friday in Kent, Wash. -Image credit: Brian Liesse

Rockets pushed to edge by Thunderbirds

Seattle scores 5-3 win Friday to take 3-2 lead over Kelowna in WHL’s Western Conference final

For the first time in the 2017 Western Hockey League playoffs, the Kelowna Rockets are facing elimination.

The Seattle Thunderbirds scored a pair of power play goals late in the second period to en route to a 5-3 victory over the Rockets in Game 5 Friday in Kent, Wash.

The Thunderbirds now lead the best-of-seven Western Conference championship series three games to two.

A must-win Game 6 for the Rockets goes Sunday at Prospera Place. Face-off is 5:05 p.m.

Despite facing an uphill climb, assistant coach Travis Crickard has complete confidence in the Rockets’ ability to rebound and force a Game 7.

“We have a lot of experience in that room,” Crickard told AM 1150’s Regan Bartel. “I for one don’t doubt them, I don’t think they doubt themselves. Championship teams need the ability to exercise resilience and I think there’s a lot of that in that room.”

Tied 2-2 late in the second period, Alexander True and Ryan Gropp connected 80 seconds apart with the man advantage to put the Thunderbirds ahead to stay.

Seattle jumped out to a 2-0 lead on breakaway goals by Scott Eansor—a shorthanded marker at 3:15 of the first period—and Sami Moilanen, who beat Michael Herringer seven minutes later.

Calvin Thurkauf, at 12:07 of the opening period, before Nick Merkley tied the game 2-2 midway through the second period.

Down 5-2, Dillon Dube rounded out the scoring with a power play goal with just 35 seconds remaining.

Discipline was a problem for both teams, from start to finish, as the Rockets went 3-for-10 on the power play, while Seattle was 3-for-8.

Thunderbirds’ Rookie Cal Stankowksi was again a factor, making 37 saves in the Seattle net. Herringer made 19 saves for Kelowna.

Game 7, if needed, will go Tuesday night in Kent, Wash.

For the game summary, click here.