Winterhawks take control

Losing just once in the next three games isn’t an option if the Kelowna Rockets have designs on prolonging their 2013-14 season.

  • Apr. 25, 2014 12:00 p.m.

Warren Henderson

Black Press

Losing just once in the next three games isn’t an option if the Kelowna Rockets have designs on prolonging their 2013-14 season.

Nic Petan scored three powerplay goals Wednesday night, leading the hometown Portland Winterhawks to a 5-1 win over the Rockets and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference final series.

Game 5, a must-win for Kelowna, is set for tonight at Prospera Place.

The Rockets opened the scoring for the third time in the series, as rookie Nick Merkley connected at 13:28 of the first period for his fourth goal and team-leading 17th point of the playoffs.

But the Rockets ran into penalty trouble soon after, and it was all Portland the rest of the way.

Petan evened the score on a power play at 18:58 of the opening period, then scored twice more in the second with the man advantage as the Winterhawks tallied five unanswered goals.

Oliver Bjorkstrand added a shorthanded marker in the second period, while Paul Bittner scored into an empty net to round out the scoring, as the Winterhawks outshot Kelowna 36-32.

In the Eastern Conference final Wednesday, Vernon’s Curtis Lazar and the Edmonton Oil Kings moved to within a victory of a berth in the league championship with a 4-1 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The Oil Kings lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 with Game 5 tonight in Edmonton.

Lazar was held off the socresheet while Vernon’s Cole Sanford scored the Tigers’ lone goal, his ninth of the post-season, late in the third period on a powerplay.