The Kelowna Rockets scored one goal each in the second and third periods to come from behind and defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds 3-2 on...

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The Kelowna Rockets scored one goal each in the second and third periods to come from behind and defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds 3-2 on Friday night.

Brady Leavold scored Kelowna’s last two goals as the Rockets took Game 1 of the opening-round Western Hockey League playoff series.

Leavold’s goal in the second period seemed to deflate the T-birds, who didn’t come alive until the final seconds, when they missed several opportunities to tie the game.

Jim O’Brien had the best chance as Seattle stormed Kelowna goaltender Kristofer Westblom.

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“It was a couple of inches,” O’Brien said. “The puck was rolling and there was a big cluster in front of the net, and it just kind of slipped. We were right there at the end, and we should have tied it up.”

Game 2 is at 7:05 tonight at KeyArena.

O’Brien admitted the tide turned when Leavold found the net after a pass from Colin Long with the second period 14 seconds from the end.

“That was a hard goal to give up,” O’Brien said. “And maybe we had a little mental lapse or something to start the third period. Give them credit. They played hard the entire game.”

The T-birds dominated most of the first period. But after Ian McKenzie gave the T-birds a lead with a power-play goal, Lucas Bloodoff tied the score with a soft backhand shot that eluded Seattle goaltender Riku Helenius.

Greg Scott regained the lead for Seattle, but Leavold streaked toward the Seattle goal and knocked in a pass from Colin Long after the T-birds failed to get the puck into the Kelowna end.

Seattle coach Rob Sumner didn’t think his team played its best hockey.

“We lost by a goal and we didn’t play our best,” Sumner said. “We played hard physically, but I was a little disappointed that we didn’t win a lot of the battles in the corner. We were a little flat in the third period and didn’t play as competitive as we needed to be.”

Kelowna scored a pair of power-play goals as Seattle took five penalties.

“We took a couple of penalties that were preventable, and those are the ones that come back and bite you,” Sumner said. “We played hard, but we usually are harder to play against than we were tonight.”

Seattle outshot Kelowna 29-26 with Westblom making 27 saves for the Rockets, who have won five consecutive playoff games at KeyArena.


Kelowna 1 1 1 — 3
Seattle 1 1 0 — 2

First — 1, Seattle, McKenzie 1 (O’Brien, Richard) 9:12 (pp) 2, Kelowna, L. Bloodoff (Long, Barrie) 15:50 (pp). Second — 2. Seattle, Scott 1 (Hickey, Holloway) 1:31 (pp) 3. Kelowna, Leavold 1 (Long, Benn) 19:46. Third — 5. Kelowna, Leavold 2 (Barrie, Long) 7:21 (pp). Shots on goal by — Kelowna 7-5-14 — 26, Kelowna 8-11-10 — 29. Goal (shots, saves) — Kelowna Westblom (1-0, 29-27); Seattle Helenius (0-1, 26-23). Power plays (goals-chances) — Seattle 2-4; Kelowna 2-5. A — 3,002.

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