Rockets advance to Western Hockey League fina

Kelowna 5 Vancouver 4 KELOWNA, B.C. — It’s been four years since the Kelowna Rockets last hoisted a banner. On Monday night, the Rockets added a new one: Western Conference champions.

Kelowna 5 Vancouver 4

KELOWNA, B.C. — It’s been four years since the Kelowna Rockets last hoisted a banner. On Monday night, the Rockets added a new one: Western Conference champions.

Mikael Backlund scored a hat trick for Kelowna, including the game-winning goal in overtime, as the Rockets rallied to defeat the Vancouver Giants 5-4 in Western Hockey League playoff action on Monday night.

With the win, Kelowna claimed its first Western Conference championship since 2005, and third in franchise history, winning the best-of-seven series 4-2.

Kelowna will now meet the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL final. That series is tentatively scheduled to start in Calgary with Games 1 and 2 this Friday and Saturday at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Backlund’s game-winning goal came four minutes into overtime, as he deflected a shot from Tysen Dowzak at the left blue-line boards. Dowzak’s shot went off Backlund’s raised arm, then deflected past Giants goaltender Tysen Sexsmith. The Giants called for an immediate review, a process which took approximately five minutes before it was called a goal.

Evander Kane, with two goals, Jon Blum and James Henry scored for Vancouver, which raced out to leads of 1-0 and 3-1 before the first period was over.

Jamie Benn and Cody Almond, with goals 33 seconds apart late in the third, also scored for Kelowna.

Mark Guggenberger made 13 saves for the Rockets, while Tyson Sexsmith stopped 27 shots for the Giants. On Sunday, Vancouver listed Sexsmith as a possible scratch, saying he wasn’t 100 per cent and might be sick with the flu.

After Kelowna narrowly missed scoring in the opening 30 seconds, with a shot rolling through Vancouver’s crease, Blum scored the game’s first goal at 4:11, knifing home a high power-play slapshot from the blue-line.

Backlund levelled the score six minutes later, going between Sexsmith’s pads after dangling in the slot. The Giants, however, regained their lead, then added to it before the frame ended, with Kane wristing in a rebound on the power play at 16:27, then Henry going high glove side on a breakaway at 18:58 to make it 3-1.

In the second, Backlund drew Kelowna to within one at 17:19 with a highlight-reel goal. With the Rockets on the power play, Backlund dragged the puck across the Giants’ blue-line, cut through two defenders, then, while falling, loosed a hard, top-shelf shot just before a third Giant came in to help defend.

In the third, the Rockets lost top defenceman Tyler Myers for boarding when he crushed Giants defenceman Craig Schira into Vancouver’s end boards. Schira was cut on the hit and Myers was hit for a major and a game misconduct. Ten seconds into their five-minute power play, Kane banged in a rebound to make it 4-2 Giants.

But in the dying minutes, the Rockets rallied and began throwing waves of offence at Vancouver, and, at 15:55, Benn made it 4-3 with a power-play goal. Then, at 16:28, Almond made it 4-3 with a screened wrister from the slot to force overtime.

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month