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Rockets revved up for round one

Marissa Baecker

The Kelowna Rockets prepare to embark on their quest for WHL supremacy starting tomorrow night at Prospera Place when the Tri-City Americans come to Kelowna for game one of the first round of the 2018 WHL Playoffs.

Having won their seventh B.C. Division title, the Rockets face off against the first wild card position team in the Tri-City Americans. Though they are the higher seed, Rockets Video/Development/Goalie Coach Adam Brown says they aren’t going to be taking anything for granted.

“It’s going to be a tough matchup, they have a highly skilled team and they play the game hard so it’s going to be a good battle,” said Brown. “They have some guys that when they’re out there we have to be aware. They love jumping up into the rush so we have make sure we’re not getting beat up ice. We have a confident group. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing we need to play the game the right way and we need to play the game hard and if we do that we have a chance to win every night.”

These two teams were about as evenly matched as they could get throughout this regular season. Having played each other four times, each team finished the season series with a 2-1-1-0 record. The first time these two teams met this season was back on October 17th when the Rockets visited the Toyota Center in Kennewick, WA. Nolan Yaremko came to play that evening for the Americans scoring his first two goals of the season. Dillon Dube scored late in the game for Kelowna but the Rockets would fall in their first meeting 2-1. They met again 10 days later but this time in Kelowna. Carsen Twarynksi’s two goals and an assist carried the Rockets to a 4-3 overtime victory. Less than a week later, Kelowna headed back to Kennewick for another meeting with the Americans, but this time it was Tri-City taking the overtime victory. Kole Lind gave the Rockets a chance with his goal and an assist, but the Americans got a goal and an assist from both Juuso Valimaki and Michael Rasmussen and they edged Kelowna 4-3 in overtime. Their final meeting of the season came on January 3rd back in Prospera Place. Carsen Twarynski(2G, 1A) and Nolan Foote(1G, 2A) both had three point nights while Conner Bruggen-Cate added two goals of his own to give the final matchup of the season to the Rockets 5-4.

Kelowna finished the regular season with a record of 43-22-5-2 giving them 93 points and placing them first in the B.C. Division. The Americans finished the regular season with a record of 38-25-8-1 giving them 85 points and placing them fourth in the U.S. Division.

These two clubs are no strangers to meeting in the playoffs either, as this will be the seventh time they meet in post season play. The Rockets have an 18-13 win/loss record against the Americans since moving to Kelowna in the post season. They met once in post season play while the Rockets were in Tacoma, and Tacoma won that series 3-1. The Rockets moved to Kelowna and these two clubs met for the first time in the post season during the 1996 WHL Playoffs. They played in the opening round and Tri-City made quick work of Kelowna, ousting them in five games in their best-of-seven series. They faced off again in the 2004 WHL Playoffs. The Rockets earned redemption from their first playoff meeting, taking the best-of-seven 4-2. Kelowna went on that season to win the 2004 Memorial Cup at home at Prospera Place. In the 2009 post season these two clubs met again. Kelowna once again came out on top with a 4-2 series victory once again. It was another fantastic post season for the Rockets as they went on to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as the Champions of the WHL. The following season in the 2010 WHL Playoffs, Tri-City returned the favour on Kelowna, taking their second round matchup by a series score of 4-1. The Americans went on to fall 4-1 to the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL Championship. The two renewed rivalries in the 2014 WHL Playoffs and Kelowna booted the Americans by a series score of 4-1. Their most recent playoff meeting came the very next season during the 2015 WHL Playoffs. Again the Americans ran into the wrong opponent, as the Rockets swept the Ams 4-0 en route to another Ed Chynoweth Cup title. Kelowna went on to fall 2-1 in overtime in the Memorial Cup final that season.

Puck drop for game one on Thursday is at 7:05pm. Tickets are available here: http://bit.ly/2FIww7D

The full first round schedule is as follows:

Game 1 Tri-City @ Kelowna Thursday, March 22 7:05
Game 2 Tri-City @ Kelowna Saturday, March 24 7:05
Game 3 Kelowna @ Tri-City Wednesday, March 28 7:05
Game 4 Kelowna @ Tri-City Thursday, March 29 7:05
Game 5 * Tri-City @ Kelowna Saturday, March 31 7:05
Game 6 * Kelowna @ Tri-City Sunday, April 1 5:05
Game 7 * Tri-City @ Kelowna Tuesday, April 3 7:05

 

Tickets are available for Rockets home games through selectyourtickets.com, at the Prospera Place box office or by phone at 250-762-5050.

WHL_Playoffs_2018_preview

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