Rockets’ forward Kole Lind scores on a first-period breakaway to put Kelowna ahead to stay Wednesday in Game 4 of the WHL’s Western Conference final. -Image credit: Warren Henderson/Capital News

Rockets get even in conference final

Kelowna downs Thunderbirds 4-2 Wednesday at Prospera Place to square series up 2-2

Technically, it wasn’t a must-win situation. But the Kelowna Rockets had to treat it that way on Wednesday night at Prospera Place.

Down by one in the WHL’s Western Conference final, the Rockets delivered with a 4-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 4, tying the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Game 5 goes Friday night in Kent, Wash.

The Rockets rebounded from a deflating 2-1 loss a night earlier, as Keegan Kolesar scored the Game 3 winner for Seattle with just 20 seconds remaining in the third period.

Nick Merkley, Tomas Soustal, Nolan Foote and Kole Lind each had a goal and an assist as the Rockets overcame an early 1-0 deficit to guarantee at least a Game 6 on Sunday in Kelowna.

Rockets head coach Jason Smith was happy to see his club bounce back to tie the series, but believes his club can be even better.

“I think we did a better job of getting to the net, I think we’ve still got another level we can go to by putting pucks to the net and getting bodies there,” said Smith. “We did a better job tonight but we can still step it up a notch.”

On Wednesday, Kelowna fell behind three minutes into the game on a goal by Ryan Gropp, but responded with two goals in a 28-second span.

Nolan Foote connected for his first of the playoffs at 8:34, before Kole Lind’s sixth of the postseason on a breakaway at 9:02 put Kelowna ahead to stay.

Nick Merkley put the Rockets up 3-1 in the second period, knocking a rebound past Cal Stankowski for his fifth of the playoffs. Tomas Soustal scored at 4:29 of third, before Seattle’s Scott Eansor rounded out the scoring with just over nine minutes left.

Michael Herringer stopped 27 shots in the Rockets’ net for his 10th win of the postseason.

Game 6 goes Sunday at Prospera Place, with face-off at 5:05 p.m.

A seventh game, if needed will go Tuesday night in Washington.

Kelowna Rockets

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