Kelowna sweeps past T-birds in second-round series
Seattle has no answer for the top-seeded Rockets, who wrap up series with 5-2 victory. Kelowna converted eight of 19 power-play opportunities and Seattle was just 2 of 22.
Special to The Seattle Times
KENT — The power play remained a power outage and the lights have gone out for this season for the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The Kelowna Rockets allowed Seattle only two power-play goals in 22 chances to win the second-round Western Hockey League playoff series four games to none. The Rockets wrapped up the series with a 5-2 win on Wednesday night.
That dim production with a man advantage was made worse when the Rockets scored on eight of their 19 power-play opportunities. The Rockets advance to the Western Conference finals to play either Portland or Victoria.
Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk admitted he was frustrated because his team might have been satisfied after an opening-round win over Everett in the first playoff series between the two franchises that have been rivals for 11 seasons.
“We could have been better, we didn’t have the same desperation and passion that we had in the first series,” Konowalchuk said. “There were some guys who were satisfied just getting past that first round.”
Against a highly skilled and favored team like Kelowna, that was a recipe for a four-game sweep.
“Everybody in that (locker) room could have done better in the second series,” Konowalchuk said. “They’re young men. They need to look in the mirror and learn from it. I thought we played a fairly strong game, but their guys capitalized more than ours. Congratulations to them. They were the better team.”
Seattle grabbed its first lead of the series when, of all things, the Thunderbirds scored a power-play goal by rookie defenseman Ethan Bear.
The lead held until Kelowna struck for two quick goals in a span of just over two minutes late in the second period.
The Rockets, the No. 1 seed after winning the Western Conference regular season title with a 57-11-0-4 record, held on despite a Seattle rally. The T-birds even appeared to cut the lead to 4-3 in the final two minutes, but the goal was waved off because of a Seattle penalty.
Kelowna then wrapped it up with an empty-net power-play goal, a fitting end to a series decided by vastly different special teams.
The Rockets struck for two quick goals late in the second period.
Damon Severson, a second-round pick of the New Jersey Devils, tied it with his fourth goal of the playoffs at 16:11 of the second period.
Severson, who had 15 goals in the regular season, got off a quick shot from the point that went through several bodies and into the corner of the net. Then, just over two minutes later, Cole Linaker gave the Rockets the lead for good.
Seattle had a golden opportunity to tie it when Ryan Olsen drew a four-minute penalty for high-sticking late in the second period.
There were plenty of chances, but no goals.
Jordon Cooke was spectacular in the series for the Rockets, finishing the sweep with 42 saves on 44 shots.
“I think all of us were expecting a big series, a long series,” Severson said. “But our team came to play all four games. We really set the tone, and we took it to them. We had a great game to finish it off. The fourth (win) is always the toughest to get, and it was a great effort.”