Junior hockey: Kelowna, Kamloops to play tie-breaker – Global News

Junior hockey: Kelowna, Kamloops to play tie-breaker - Global News
Blazers, Rockets to meet in 2019 WHL Tiebreaker Game
Mark Liwiski #9 of the Kelowna Rockets is checked by Joel Sexsmith #47 of the Vancouver Giants during third period on March 16, 2019 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

In what was a crazy ending to the regular season for Kelowna, Liwiski scored in overtime as the Rockets scored a must-win scenario over Vancouver.

Entering Saturday night action, Kelowna and Kamloops were tied for the league’s final playoff spot with 62 points each.

WHL Roundup: Rockets playoff chances take hit with loss to Giants

While Kelowna was playing in overtime, the Kamloops Blazers beat the Prince George Cougars 4-2 in what was also a must-win scenario for the Blazers.

In Kamloops, Vladislav Mikhalchuk scored his second of the night with less than 90 seconds left in overtime, giving the Cougars a 5-4 win in Kamloops.

That win pushed Kamloops to 64 points and then Kelowna won, giving the Rockets 64 points as well. Now the two teams will meet in a playoff tiebreaker on Tuesday in Kamloops.

After a scoreless first, Alex Kannok Leipert broke the deadlock, jamming the puck past Roman Basran during a scramble in front of the crease.

In Prince George, in the dying minutes of the third period, the host Cougars took a 2-1 lead at 14:39. Prince George bested Kamloops 5-4 in overtime on Friday and was searching for a second consecutive upset. The Blazers, though, rallied, scoring at 14:54, 17:15 and 19:11 to win 4-2.

Jermaine Loewen, with two goals, Kobe Mohr and Connor Zary scored for Kamloops (28-32-6-2). Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Cole Moberg replied for Prince George (19-41-5-3).

In Langley, Dylan Plouffe snapped a 1-1 tie with less than four minutes to go in regulation time in the Giants victory over the Rockets.

Dylan Garand stopped 29 of 31 shots for the Blazers, with Taylor Gauthier turning aside 21 of 24 shots for the Cougars.

Kyrell Sopotyk cut the deficit to one on the power play, setting the stage for Connor Zary's game-tying marker in the final minute.

In Kelowna, the Rockets were up 2-1 after two periods — a lead that held until 19:27 of the third, when the Giants scored to force overtime.

There's nothing to choose between the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers as they head to the final game of the regular season.

By going to overtime, Kelowna was assured at least a point, which temporarily put them in the driver’s seat. And then the Blazers rallied to win while the Rockets were in overtime, which put the pressure on Kelowna to win.

The goal came just 27 seconds after Michael Farren was set off for high sticking. It was the Giants only power play of the game.

Had the Rockets lost in overtime, or in the shootout, their season would have ended. Instead, Liwiski scored a power-play goal at 3:40 to end the game.

The Cougars scored three unanswered goals in less than nine minutes during the opening half of the period to take a 4-2 lead.

Cayde Augustine and Alex Swetlikoff also scored for Kelowna (28-32-6-2). Justin Sourdif and Jadon Joseph, with the game-tying marker, scored for Vancouver (48-15-3-2).

Kyle Crosbie tied it off the rush eight minutes later when his shot from the right faceoff circle beat Trent Miner five-hole.

David Tendeck stopped 32 of 35 shots for the Giants, with Roman Basran turning aside 19 of 21 shots for the Rockets.

The two teams are deadlocked for the final BC Division playoff spot with 62 points each heading into game 68 Saturday night.

For Tuesday’s playoff tie-breaker, Kamloops will host because the Blazers won the head-to-head season series with the Rockets. It’s believed this will be the seventh tie-breaking game in WHL history, and that the last three tie-breakers were won by road teams.

Dylan Plouffe scored the winner at 16:50 of the third period as the Vancouver Giants beat Kelowna 2-1 on Friday, forcing the Rockets to pick up at least a point in their final game of the season just to have a chance at the post-season.

The winner of Tuesday’s game will play Victoria (34-30-2-2) in the first round of the playoffs.

Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets will meet Tuesday, March 19 (7 p.m. PT) at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops for a tiebreaker game to determine the final playoff berth in the WHLs B.C. Division and Western Conference.

Reese Johnson had all three goals for Red Deer (33-28-6), which clinched the final playoff spot in the East thanks to Brandon’s loss against Regina. Ethan Anders made 29 saves in defeat.

The winner of Tuesdays WHL Tiebreaker Game will advance to the 2019 WHL Playoffs and a best-of-seven, first-round series against the Victoria Royals, who finished the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season second in the B.C. Division.

WHL fans can watch the tiebreaker game for FREE on WHL Live as a special offering before the 2019 WHL Playoffs begin Friday, March 22. WHL Live Playoff Packages will be made available for purchase Monday, March 18.

The Blazers and Rockets finished the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season tied for third place in the WHLs B.C. Division and the final playoff spot in the WHLs Western Conference with identical records of 28-32-6-2 (64 points). The Blazers are awarded home-ice advantage in the single-game tiebreaker, having finished with more points in the regular season head-to-head series with the Rockets. In 10 meetings between the two B.C. Interior rivals, the Blazers finished 6-3-1-0 (13 points), while the Rockets finished 4-4-1-1 (10 points).

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Vladislav Mikhalchuk scored his second goal of the night at 3:46 of overtime and also had two assists as Prince George edged the Blazers.

A dramatic Saturday night provided more than enough nail-biting moments for even the most battle-tested of fans as both the Blazers and Rockets scored theatrical victories to set up for Tuesdays tiebreaker.

Parker AuCoin scored once and set up goals from Krystof Hrabik and Roman Kalinichenko for the Americans (34-27-6). Talyn Boyko stopped 39-of-43shots in defeat.

In Prince George, the Blazers trailed the Cougars by a 2-1 margin with just over five minutes remaining in the third period before scoring three unanswered goals to secure a 4-2 win. Captain Jermaine Loewen evened the affair with his 27th goal of the season before Connor Zary converted on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity to give Kamloops a 3-2 lead with 2:45 to go. Loewen added some insurance with an empty-netter moments later.

Meanwhile in Kelowna, the Vancouver Giants forced overtime with the Rockets after Jadon Joseph scored to make it a 2-2 game with only 33 seconds to go in regulation. With 1:20 remaining in the extra period and the Blazers having just finished off the Cougars, it was Mark Liwiski registering his 11th goal of the season to give the Rockets a season-extending 3-2 triumph.

Luka Burzan struck twice while Cole Reinhardt and Braydyn Chizen had the others for the Wheat Kings (30-29-8). Jiri Patera made 39 saves in defeat.

All of this caps a quite improbable stretch, as the Blazers erased a seven-point deficit, going 5-0-1-0 to close the regular season in order to catch the Rockets and set the stage for Tuesdays tiebreaker.

Loewen – a prospect of the NHLs Dallas Stars – and the Blazers will welcome 2019 NHL Draft prospect Nolan Foote and the Rockets to Kamloops for the first WHL Tiebreaker Game since 2016.

Ryan Chyzowski, Tyler Preziuso, Linus Nassen and Brett Kemp also scored for the Tigers (35-26-6). Mads Sogaard made 29 saves for the win.

In addition to Loewen, the Blazers are led by two energetic forwards enjoying career seasons – Zane Franklin and Zary. Franklin, a 20-year-old product of Marwayne, Alta., leads Kamloops in scoring with 68 points (28G-40A) in 68 games this season. Zary, a 17-year-old product of Saskatoon, Sask., sits second in scoring on the Blazers, having collected 67 points (24G-43A) in 63 games this season.

Marco Creta and Holden Kodak found the back of the net for the Ice (12-45-10). Jesse Makaj stopped 51-of-55 shots in a losing cause.

For the Rockets, its 19-year-old Kyle Topping – a product of Salt Spring Island, B.C. – leading the team in scoring with 69 points (23G-46A) in 68 games. The 18-year-old Foote – a product of Engelwood, Colo. – sits close behind with 63 points (36G-27A) in 66 games.

Tuesdays tiebreaker game serves as the seventh in WHL history and the first since 2015-16 when the Edmonton Oil Kings knocked off the Medicine Hat Tigers by a 6-4 margin to advance to the 2016 WHL Playoffs.

History of WHL Tiebreaker Games 2015-16: Edmonton Oil Kings (6) at Medicine Hat Tigers (4) 2013-14: Prince Albert Raiders (5) at Red Deer Rebels (3) 2008-09: Edmonton Oil Kings (2) at Prince Albert Raiders (1) – OT 1989-90: Brandon Wheat Kings (4) at Swift Current Broncos (5) 1983-84: Calgary Wranglers (8) at Saskatoon Blades (7) – OT 1980-81: Spokane Chiefs (10) at New Westminster Bruins (9)

About the Western Hockey League Regarded as the worlds finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canadas National Junior Hockey Team.