Junior hockey: Rockets fail to make playoffs; Chiefs fall to Grizzlies in series opener

Junior hockey: Rockets fail to make playoffs; Chiefs fall to Grizzlies in series opener

A round-up of results from junior hockey teams in the Okanagan.

WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE

Kamloops 5, Kelowna 1

At Kamloops, the Blazers scored four unanswered goals in the third period to defeat Kelowna in a playoff tiebreaker game between the two rivals on Tuesday night.

Kamloops and Kelowna entered the game tied for third place in B.C. Division standings with identical records of 28-23-6-2 and 64 points. The Blazers, who roared to life in the final two weeks of the regular season while the Rockets faltered, will now play Victoria in the first round of the playoffs.

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For Kelowna, which will host the 2020 Memorial Cup, the season is over.

By placing fourth, the Rockets didn’t have enough points to compete for a wildcard position. Tri-City with 74 points, and Seattle, with 70, grabbed the conference’s two wildcard spots.

Kyrell Sopotyk, Kobe Mohr, Connor Zary, Brodi Stuart and Jermaine Loewen, with a game-sealing empty-net marker with 1:31 remaining, scored for Kamloops. Mark Liwiski replied for Kelowna.

This marks just the second time in franchise history that the Rockets failed to make the post-season. The first was 2006-07, when Kelowna finished fifth in B.C. Division standings with just 22 wins and 53 points. That season, the expansion Chilliwack Bruins finished fourth with 57 points and earned the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

On Tuesday, Sopotyk opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 4:11 of the second period following a scoreless first. Liwiski, though, quickly countered, making it 1-1 at 7:56.

In the third, the wheels fell off the Rockets’ playoff-bound bus. Mohr scored at 6:10 to make it 2-1, with Zary gutting Kelowna’s post-season hopes at 8:44 with a shorthanded goal. Stuart added another shorthanded marker at 10:12, with Loewen closing out the scoring at 18:29.

Dylan Garand stopped 27 of 28 shots for Kamloops. For Kelowna, Roman Basran started, but was pulled midway through the third. He faced 34 shots, stopping 30. James Porter was 5-for-5 in relief.

The Rockets were 0-for-3 on the power play while the Blazers were 1-for-1. The attendance was 5,876.

With the league’s final playoff position now cemented, here are this season’s first-round playoff series:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Vancouver (1) vs Seattle (8); Everett (2) vs. Tri-City (7)

B.C. Division: Victoria (2) vs. Kamloops (3)

U.S. Division: Spokane (2) vs. Portland (3)

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Prince Albert (1) vs. Red Deer (8); Edmonton (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)

Central Division: Lethbridge (2) vs. Calgary (3)

East Division: Saskatoon (2) vs. Moose Jaw (3)

B.C. HOCKEY LEAGUE

Vernon 4, Trail 3

At Trail, Jesse Lansdell scored twice for Vernon as the Vipers scored three times in the third period to defeat the Smoke Eaters.

Coleton Bilodeau and Connor Marritt also scored for Vernon, which now trails the second-round series 2-1. The Smoke Eaters won the first two games, 3-1 and 5-4 in overtime.

Kent Johnson, with two goals, and Carter Jones replied for Trail, which led 2-1 after the second period.

Aidan Porter stopped 30 of 33 shots for the Vipers, with Donovan Buskey turning aside 26 of 30 shots for the Smokies.

Vernon was 0-for-2 on the power play while Trail was 1-for-3. The attendance was 2,232.

Game 4 will take place Wednesday evening, 7 p.m., in Vernon, with Game 5 set for Friday, 7 p.m. in Trail.

KOOTENAY INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE

Revelstoke 3, Kelowna 2

At Kelowna, Revelstoke scored the final goal in a back-and-forth game between the top two clubs in the Okanagan-Shuswap Conference.

Cody Flann, Ullar Wiatzka and Ryan Pereverzoff scored for Revelstoke, which leads the best-of-seven conference final 1-0.

Devin Sutton and Lane Paddison replied for Kelowna, which will host Game 2 on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Flann opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at 14:28 of the first period, with Sutton levelling the score at 12:18 of the second. One minute later, at 13:30, Paddison made it 2-0 for Kelowna with a power-play goal. But with just three seconds remaining in the frame, Wiatzka made it 2-2 with a power-play goal for Revelstoke.

In the third, Pereverzoff netted the winner with 2:06 remaining.

Liam McGarva stopped 28 of 30 shots for Revelstoke, with Braeden Mitchell turning aside 25 of 28 shots for Kelowna.

The Grizzlies were 1-for-3 on the power play while the Chiefs were 1-for-4. The attendance was 454.

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