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Junior hockey: Rockets let lead slip, Warriors blank Silverbacks

A roundup of junior hockey results from the Okanagan and area.

WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE

Seattle 3, Kelowna 2

The Kelowna Rockets were one period away from victory Saturday night, but they let their one-goal lead slip, and fell to the Seattle Thunderbirds.

In the first period, an attempted backhand pass by Rockets forward Max Graham was picked off by Seattle’s Gracyn Sawchyn at the left faceoff circle, and he used his edges to cut across the crease with the puck, slipping it past netminder Jari Kykkanen with a smooth backhand shot to give the home team the 1-0 lead.

Less than three minutes later however, Rockets forward Tij Iginla deposited his 20th goal of the season to even up the score at one all.

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In the second period, Kelowna’s Ethan Mittelsteadt wired home a one-timer on the powerplay, giving his team their first lead of the affair, and they carried that lead into the final period of play.

With the Thunderbirds pressing for the equalizer in the third period, Luca Hauf scored his 8th goal of the campaign, taking the wind out of Kelowna’s sails and providing his team with a boost of momentum, that proved to be exactly what his club needed.

2:48 second after Hauf’s game-tying goal, Seattle’s Sam Popowich skated into the Rockets zone and ripped a shot that found its way into the back of the net to give his group the 3-2 edge, and that goal would stand as the difference maker.

The Thunderbirds outshot the Rockets 29-27. With the loss, Kelowna’s record drops to 11-14-2-0, but they’ll have a chance to turn things around on the road as they head out on their Eastern Division road trip, kicking things off against the Regina Pats on Saturday.

Saturday’s results

  • Regina 6, Swift Current 5
  • Red Deer 3, Everett 2
  • Wenatchee 6, Portland 5
  • Medicine Hat 6, Prince Albert 2
  • Vancouver 6, Tri-City 3
  • Prince George 6, Spokane 3
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Sunday’s games

  • Victoria at Kamloops
  • Moose Jaw at Edmonton
  • Prince Albert at Calgary
  • Tri-City at Wenatchee
  • Prince George at Portland
  • Vancouver at Spokane
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Final season for WHL Commissioner

B.C. HOCKEY LEAGUE

West Kelowna 4, Salmon Arm 0

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The West Kelowna Warriors extended their winning streak to five games in front of their home fans Saturday night, with a commanding win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

After a scoreless first period, the Warriors wasted little time getting on the board in the second frame, scoring 1:55 into the period on the powerplay to take a 1-0 lead, and just :45 seconds later, the Warriors would add another thanks to Trent Wilson who buried his 7th goal of the season.

The Warriors scored once more before the final horn sounded to end the second period, and the home team headed into the third period up by three.

West Kelowna’s defense held the Silverbacks to the outside for much of the final frame, only allowing 6 shots on goal. Warriors netminder Rorke Applebee stopped all 22 shots he faced in the game, and his club would add another goal in the third period to take a 4-0 decision.

Applebee now has two shutouts this season, and his team continues to roll in the right direction, having won five straight and six of their last seven.

With the win, the Warriors are now three points ahead of the Silverbacks, and one point behind the second-placed Vernon Vipers. The Warriors’ next game is Saturday on home ice against Trail, while the Silverbacks host Penticton on Friday.

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Vernon 6, Prince George 2

A three-goal second period followed by an early strike in the third helped propel the Vernon Vipers over the Prince George Spruce Kings on Saturday.

The first period saw both teams exchange goals, but in the second period, the visiting Vernon Vipers took control of the game with three unanswered goals, including two on the man advantage, and they headed into the third period up 4-1.

Just shy of a minute into the final frame, the onslaught of offence continued, as Vernon’s Owen Kim struck with his 7th goal of the season. Prince George would cut the deficit down to 5-2, before Vernon scored another powerplay goal to make it 6-2, which would stand as the final score.

The shots were even at 30 each, but the big difference maker was the Vipers powerplay, which went 3 for 6, while Prince George did not score on any of their four powerplay chances.

Vernon will pack up their bags and head out on the road to face Trail on Friday.

Penticton 3, Merritt 2

The Penticton Vees can finally catch up on some rest, after playing three games in four nights, winning all three.

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In their most recent victory, the Vees faced the Merritt Centennials, a team that’s determined to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2018/19 season.

The Vees would open up the scoring 1:59 in, but the Centennials would respond, after forward Charles-Thomas Larochelle scored his 5th of the year. The tie wouldn’t last long however, as Penticton’s Francesco Dell’Elce scored on the powerplay just :39 seconds later.

After no scoring in the second frame, the Vees added to their lead thanks to Billy Renfrew. The Centennials scored once more with their net empty to make it a 3-2 game, but they came up short. Penticton’s netminder Will Ingemann captured his 13th win of the season, as he set aside 28 of 30 shots, and was named the game’s third star.

Penticton is now seven points ahead of the second placed Vernon Vipers in the Interior Division. The two clubs will do battle once again, this time in Penticton, on Wednesday night.

Saturday’s results

  • Cranbrook 2, Victoria 1 (SO)
  • Coquitlam 6, Alberni Valley 4
  • Cowichan Valley 4, Powell River 3

Sunday’s games

  • Coquitlam at Nanaimo
  • Cranbrook at Surrey
  • Langley at Chilliwack

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