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Junior hockey: Kelowna Rockets fend off elimination, edge Seattle 3-2 in overtime

Adam Kydd capped a comeback by Kelowna on Wednesday night, as the Rockets rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds 3-2 in overtime.

Kydd’s game-winning marker, tallied on the power play at 15:55 of overtime, also stopped Seattle from sweeping the first-round playoff series.

Entering Wednesday’s game at Prospera Place in Kelowna, Seattle was leading the best-of-seven set 3-0 and had outscored the Rockets 18-4. And early in Game 4, it looked like Kelowna was golf-course bound, with Seattle holding a two-goal lead.

Read more: Junior hockey — Kelowna Rockets fall 5-1 to Seattle as T-Birds take 3-0 series lead

“That was a resilient group in there,” Rockets head coach Kris Mallette said of his team. “We needed our goaltender, Talyn Boyko, to come through for us, and he sure did.

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“Was it pretty at times? No. But I felt that in the second period, our confidence started to grow. (Boyko) made some great saves for us and we just found a way.”

Kelowna’s comeback started at 6:28 of the second — three minutes after Lucas Ciona scored his second of the game, a doorstep rebound at 3:16 to give the Thunderbirds a 2-0 lead.

Making it 2-1 was Rockets forward Gabriel Szturc, who struck on the power play, sniping a loose puck in the slot.

The play started with Nolan Flamand, in the left corner, passing the puck to Max Graham, who was partially behind Seattle’s net. Graham, with his back to the slot, then deftly tipped the pass into the slot, where Szturc skated onto it.

Then, six minutes after that, at 12:45, Noah Dorey finished off a great three-way passing play to level the score at 2-2.

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In overtime, with Seattle’s Reid Schaefer in the penalty box for tripping, the Rockets capped the comeback.

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With Kelowna working the puck around, Andrew Cristall, on the half-wall, passed to Kydd, who was parked above the crease. Kydd took the puck at the right post, then slapped it home, with the puck somehow bouncing past Seattle goalie Thomas Milic.

Boyko finished with 36 saves on 38 shots, with Milic turning aside 26 of 29 shots.

Kelowna was 2-for-5 on the power play while Seattle was 0-for-3.

The series, which Seattle leads 3-1, returns to Washington state for Game 5 in Kent on Friday night.

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“It’s desperation,” Mallette said of Wednesday’s second period. “It’s funny; we just tried. It’s a simple little thing, but I think we were just trying hard.

“I go around that room, looking at them right now, and that’s what it’s supposed to look like after playoff hockey. Those first couple of games for us … it was just another game.

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“And I don’t know what it was that flipped the switch for these guys into realizing how much they actually enjoy each other, and how much we are a family in that room, that there was a possibility that it was going to come to an end and we were not going to be together.

“They dug deep and we’ll relish this one win. We’ve got more time together, which is our slogan. We want more time together and we’ll have a nice bus trip to Seattle and be ready to roll.”

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Wednesday’s results

  • Saskatoon 5, Moose Jaw 3
  • (Moose Jaw leads series 3-1)
  • Brandon 3, Red Deer 1
  • (Series tied 2-2)
  • Prince Albert 3, Winnipeg 1
  • (Winnipeg leads series 3-1)
  • Everett 6, Vancouver 2
  • (Everett leads series 2-1)
  • Portland 2, Prince George 1
  • (Portland wins series 4-0)

Thursday’s game (all times PT)

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  • Edmonton at Lethbridge, 6 p.m.
  • (Edmonton leads series 3-0)

Friday’s games

  • Prince Albert at Winnipeg, 5 p.m.
  • Saskatoon at Moose Jaw, 6 p.m.
  • Brandon at Red Deer, 6 p.m.
  • Kamloops at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
  • (Kamloops leads series 3-0)
  • Kelowna at Seattle, 7:05 p.m.
  • (Seattle leads series 3-1)
  • Everett at Vancouver, 7:30 p.m.
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Rockets 3, Thunderbirds 2 (1st OT)

First period

  1. Seattle, Ciona 2 (Gustafson, Hanzel) 19:41.

Penalties: Graham Kel (hooking) 2:34; Kovacevic Kel (roughing) 5:12; Bauer Sea (high-sticking) 5:12; Ludwig Sea (tripping) 7:40; Feist Kel (tripping) 12:13.

Second period

  1. Seattle, Ciona 3 (Popowich, Knazko) 3:16.
  2. Kelowna, Szturc 1 (Graham, Flamand) 6:28 (pp).
  3. Kelowna, Dorey 1 (Cristall, Poole) 12:45.

Penalties: Korchinski Sea (slashing) 5:24; Svejkovsky Sea (roughing) 6:43.

Third period

No Scoring.

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Penalties: Pacheco Kel (goaltender interference) 2:29; Popowich Sea (slashing) 10:18.

Overtime

  1. Kelowna, Kydd 2 (Cristall, Lee) 15:55 (pp).

Penalty: Schaefer Sea (tripping) 15:03.

Shots on goal by

Seattle: 12-8-11-7 — 38

Kelowna: 4-12-8-5 — 29

Goal: Seattle: Milic (L); Kelowna: Boyko (W).

Power plays (goals-chances): Seattle: 0-3; Kelowna: 2-5.

Referees: Bobby Jo Love, Ward Pateman. Linesmen: Josh Long, Dustin Minty.

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