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Rockets force Game Five after tight-checking win against Cougars

If you tuned in to the WHL livestream feed or your radio dial waiting to hear more astonishing playoff feats from the Prince George Cougars, a sense of disappointment was likely felt.

Second period goals by Max Graham and Gabriel Szturc kept the Kelowna Rockets hopes faintly alive following a 2-1 on Wednesday over the Cats in front of 3,852 fans from Prospera Place.

PG leads the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series 3-1.

Like round one against Spokane, Vancouver Canucks signed prospect Ty Young got the nod-in goal and turned aside 27 out of 29 Rockets shots in defeat.

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His counterpart Jari Kykkanen rose to the occasion for Kelowna stopping 26 out of 27 Cougar pucks that came his direction, including a windmill glove save on sniper Zac Funk, halfway through the second period.

Graham’s second goal of the postseason came off an innocent looking transition rush where Michael Cicek played the puck into a high-traffic area, eventually going off the blade of Cougars defenseman Bauer Dumanski and through the wickets of Young.

Szturc then bookended an offensive sequence a few minutes later, concluding it with a pass from Andrew Cristall, pinpointing it past the pad of Young.

In the third, Cougars head coach and general manager Mark Lamb mashed up his forward lines and re-united Koehn Ziemmer with Riley Heidt and Borya Valis on the second line.

This meant Carlin Dezainde bumping down to play with Game Three hero Matteo Danis and Oren Shtrom.

Neither team connected on their lone power-play of the contest.

Hudson Thornton brought the Cougars to within one with 3:23 remaining after a sharp-angled shot slithered through Kykkanen and into the goal.

The loss was the first of the 2024 postseason for PG and snapped a 26–game unbeaten streak in regulation going 24–0–1–1 – their last regulation loss was on February 2nd against the Vancouver Giants.

In addition, Ondrej Becher’s 26-game point streak also ended.

The Cougars now turn the page to Game Five set for Friday in what should be another standing-room only crowd at CN Centre.

Game six, if necessary, would shift back to Kelowna on Sunday at 2:05 pm.

Tickets are available now via or through the box office, which opens at 11am tomorrow (Thursday).

Elsewhere, the Saskatoon Blades became the first team to advance to the third round of the WHL Playoffs after a 7-0 win over the Red Deer Rebels to complete the round two sweep.

Egor Sidarov had a monster game with three goals and two assists while goaltender Evan Gardner from Fort Saint John pitched a 26-save shutout.

A two-goal effort by Jagger Firkus paced the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 5-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos.

MJ leads the best-of-seven 3-1.

Lastly, the Portland Winterhawks, who enjoy a 3-0 series edge over the Everett Silvertips resume their semifinal on Friday from Angel of the Winds Arena.

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