By Larry Fisher
The Okanagan Sunday
Ty Rattie didn’t do as much damage, but it was still more than enough — or more than the Kelowna Rockets could match.
Coming off a hat trick in Friday’s series opener, Rattie scored another goal and added an assist as the host Portland Winterhawks beat the Rockets 4-0 in WHL playoff action on Saturday evening in front of 5,885 fans at Memorial Coliseum. It was an even more lopsided result than Friday’s 6-3 doubling for the third-ranked Winterhawks, who now lead the sixth-seeded Rockets 2-0 in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final.
The series shifts to Kelowna for Games 3 and 4 at Prospera Place on Tuesday night and Thursday night. Both are 7 p.m. starts.
“They were definitely the better team,” said Rockets coach Ryan Huska, whose squad was almost doubled in shots on goal, 39-20, for the second straight night after Friday’s 55-29 differential. “They wanted the game more, and, because of that, they won the majority of the puck battles on the ice.”
That led to scoring chances and power plays, with Portland’s special-teams being the difference. The Winterhawks scored twice with the extra man — defenceman Troy Rutkowski to open the scoring in the second and Rattie to make it 3-0 in the third — while Brad Ross had a shorthanded breakaway goal late in the second that put Portland ahead 2-0.
“It’s terrible to give up goals like that,” Huska said of the demoralizing marker with 1:07 left in the middle frame, the product of a Myles Bell turnover at Portland’s blue-line, springing Ross, who deked Rockets goalie Adam Brown. “We were on the power play and those are typically killers, because you go into your room remembering that goal instead of something positive. That was a tough one for us.”
Kelowna never recovered, as Rattie buried his fourth of the series and 61st of the season on a perfectly placed shot over a sprawled Brown just 2:07 into the third. It came off a pass from Sven Baertschi, who also combined with Rattie to set-up Tyler Wotherspoon’s 4-0 goal on a delayed penalty to Kelowna. Rattie has five points and Baertschi has four helpers after two games.
Kelowna failed to generate much offence, making for a relatively easy 20-save shutout for Winterhawks goalie Mac Carruth. Brown made 35 saves for the Rockets, with Huska complimenting his effort and adding Brown will start Game 3.
A bigger question mark will be captain Colton Sissons, who, according to Huska, came down with the flu and was forced to leave Saturday’s game.
Sissons, who scored one of Kelowna’s goals in Game 1, had just returned to the lineup the previous weekend after missing 14 games with a concussion. The Rockets are still without assistant captain and defenceman Mitchell Chapman (undisclosed upper-body injury).