March 26, 1998 in Sports

Rockets Outplay Chiefs Again Kelowna Dominates On Power Plays, Kills Penalties Better Than Spokane

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:hockey

If three games constitutes a pattern, the Spokane Chiefs are in trouble, and not solely because they trail the Kelowna Rockets 2 games to 1 in their Western Hockey League quarterfinal series.

The Rockets lead the series after their 5-2 win here Wednesday night.

Two keys coming into this or any other playoff goaltending and special teams are being turned time and again by the Rockets. They’re dominant both on the power play and the penalty kill.

And somewhere along the line, either Aren Miller or David Haun, who relieved Miller in goal for the Chiefs, are going to have to stop the puck, and the bleeding, when it matters.

Nobody familiar with recent history of the Chiefs under Mike Babcock can write this club off. They’ve come back from deeper holes than this.

But the Rockets go into Friday night’s game in the Arena soaring with confidence after logging four goals on the power play and killing off six of Spokane’s seven power-play opportunities.

Kelowna could wrap up the series with a sweep of Friday and Sunday night’s games in Spokane, but nobody in the Rockets’ room was planning on packing brooms for the trip.

“We could wrap it up but we’re not looking that far ahead,” said center Ryan Wade, one of the Kelowna veterans.

“We’re thinking split,” agreed Rockets coach Peter Anholt.

That would mean a return to cozy Memorial Arena, where a near-capacity gathering of 1,824 saw the Rockets break a 1-1 tie with a soft goal by Kevin Korol - a weak pass from the end boards that bounced in front of the net and went in off Miller’s skate.

“We’re getting the bounces,” Wade pointed out.

Game 6 would be played back here Tuesday night.

Crunch these numbers: Kelowna has scored on 8 of 23 power-play opportunities in this series. Spokane has cashed in on only 2 of 15.

Miller saw 11 shots in a period and a half. Three got by him. Haun stopped 10 of 12 shots. Together, they blocked 18 of 23. Jordan Watt turned aside 30 of Spokane’s 32 shots.

“We’re pleased with how hard the guys are working - Scott Hannan and Karel Betik have been great through the series - but your best penalty killer is your goaltender,” Anholt said. “And our goaltenders are doing a real good job.”

Watt started both games here. Chris Noble took the loss in Spokane’s 4-3 win Tuesday night. Anholt wouldn’t say who starts next, but most are guessing Noble.

The Rockets got on the board first, Hannan scoring on a shot from the right point of the power play 4:47 into the game.

Trent Whitfield tied it 1:08 into the second period with a short-handed goal but then came Korol’s unlikely goal, followed by Wade’s power-play goal at 13:49 of the period that prompted Babcock to lift Miller.

It took only 3:15 for the Rockets to break through on Haun. When Scott Parker, alone in the slot, scored at 15:10 the Rockets were 3 of 7 on the power play to that point for the night - and 7 of 19 for the series.

“I thought when the score was 1-1 we were dominating the game,” said Babcock, whose only good news is that defenseman Kyle Rossiter made the trip and is scheduled to play Friday night after six weeks off with a shoulder separation.

“We were all over them and - boom - they get a tough one (Korol’s goal). And then when they scored on that power play (Wade’s strike that make it 3-1) it was just get it across the line and shoot it in the back of the net.

“And then the wheels were off.”

, DataTimes MEMO: These sidebars appeared with the story:

CHIEFS VS. ROCKETS

Rockets lead best-of-7 series 2-1

Game 3: Kelowna 5, Spokane 2

Game 4: Friday at Spokane, 7

Game 5: Sunday at Spokane, 6

Game 6: Tuesday at Kelowna, 7:30*

Game 7: Wednesday at Spokane, 7*

* if necessary

TICKET UPDATE

The Chiefs have announced that a limited number of individual game tickets for the Memorial Cup will go on sale Monday, April 6, at 8 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Chiefs ticket office, any G&B; outlet or by calling 535-PUCK or 1-800-325-SEAT.

These sidebars appeared with the story: CHIEFS VS. ROCKETS Rockets lead best-of-7 series 2-1 Game 3: Kelowna 5, Spokane 2 Game 4: Friday at Spokane, 7 Game 5: Sunday at Spokane, 6 Game 6: Tuesday at Kelowna, 7:30* Game 7: Wednesday at Spokane, 7* * if necessary

TICKET UPDATE The Chiefs have announced that a limited number of individual game tickets for the Memorial Cup will go on sale Monday, April 6, at 8 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Chiefs ticket office, any G&B; outlet or by calling 535-PUCK or 1-800-325-SEAT.

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