Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Wild enjoy fast start, but Rockets prevail 5-1 Tuesday to take series lead

Wenatchee, Kelowna meet Wednesday as Wild look to tie best-of-seven affair

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KELOWNA, British Columbia – After two games in Wenatchee this past Friday and Saturday, the emphasis for the Wenatchee Wild was on a strong start as their Western Hockey League playoff series against the Kelowna Rockets shifted north of the border Tuesday night. In the third game of the series, and the first at Prospera Place, they got it.

However, the Rockets finished all three periods with late goals, posting four of their five markers with four minutes or less on the clock in a 5-1 victory. Kelowna takes a two-games-to-one series lead into Game 4 on Wednesday night, as the Wild play to even up the best-of-seven set and regain home-ice advantage with Game 5 set for Friday in Wenatchee.

A red-hot power play worked lightning-fast in the first period, as Graham Sward hit Briley Wood for a one-timer 5:55 into the game, and 15 seconds into a kneeing penalty to Dylan Wightman. However, the Rockets flipped the momentum with two goals of their own – Tij Iginla sneaked one through underneath Wild goaltender Daniel Hauser with 2:39 left in the period, and Marek Rocak scored 75 seconds later to take the lead after a 3-on-2 entry into the Wenatchee zone.

The Wild battled through the second period to pick up the tying goal, but Caden Price hit the top half of the net with a wrist shot to make it 3-1 with 1:17 remaining in the stanza. Kelowna got a second goal from Iginla at 8:07 of the third, scoring with a backdoor tap-in on a pass from Michael Cicek. Luke Schelter scored the final goal with a catch-and-release wrister off a pass from Ty Hurley with 3:40 left.

Four Rockets finished with more than one point, but only Iginla ended the night with more than one goal. Wood tallied a point in his third straight playoff game for the Wild, who finished 1-for-6 on the power play and turned aside both Kelowna chances on the man-advantage. Kykkanen earned his second career playoff win behind 31 saves, while Hauser took the loss with 19 stops. Wenatchee was dominant at the faceoff dot, winning 39 draws to Kelowna’s 22, including a 10-for-15 showing for Hayden Moore and 5-for-6 from Rodzers Bukarts.

Game 4 of the series is scheduled for Wednesday evening in Kelowna, before the series shifts back to Wenatchee for Game 5 Friday. Wednesday’s opening puck drop at Prospera Place is set for 7:05 p.m. 

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