#WHLPlayoffs Roundup: Dea shuts the door as Americans silence Rockets in series opener

Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets


Tri-City Americans (5) at Kelowna Rockets (0)
Tri-City lead series 1-0
Game 2: Saturday, March 24 – Prospera Place, Kelowna, B.C. – 7:05 p.m. PT

Powered by a strong performance in net by Patrick Dea and a steady supply of offence, the Tri-City Americans scored the first victory of the 2018 WHL Playoffs Thursday, downing the Kelowna Rockets by a 5-0 score at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C.

The first of eight first-round matchups to get underway, it was the wild card Americans getting the jump on the B.C. Division champions in the first period. During a scramble in Kelowna’s crease and after a miraculous save from Rockets’ captain Cal Foote (Tampa Bay Lightning), the puck came into the low slot for Morgan Geekie (Carolina Hurricanes) who put the puck past James Porter for the first goal of post-season.

Americans goaltender Patrick Dea held the Rockets at bay as they turned on the pressure, first searching for the opening goal and then later on searching for the tying goal in the opening period, finishing with 19 saves in the first period alone.

The Americans didn’t have to wait too long to double their lead in the middle period, with a point shot from Isaac Johnson finding its way through traffic in front 5:11 in, doubling the lead for the visitors.

With a two-goal lead after 40 minutes, the Americans continued to pour on the offence in the third during an extended power play. First, Geekie was the beneficiary of a beautiful passing play, receiving the puck at the side of the net and beating a sprawling Porter to make it a 3-0 game. The offence kept on coming for the Americans just 23 seconds later as captain Michael Rasmussen (Detroit Red Wings) slipped in behind the Rockets’ defence and was ready to one-time a pass from Jordan Topping for his first of two goals in the game.

Continuing to strike on the power play, Rasmussen tallied his second of the contest, tipping in a point shot from defenceman Dylan Coghlan (Vegas Golden Knights) less than two minutes later to finalize a 5-0 score.

After stopping 19 shots in the first, Dea continued to frustrate Kelowna’s offence with 11 saves in the second and nine more in the third for the 39-save shutout. The playoff clean sheet was the first by an Americans goaltender since Ty Rimmer stopped all 23 shots from the Everett Silvertips back on March 27, 2012.

Both Geekie and Rasmussen each added an assist for the three-point performances. Coghlan and fellow defenceman Juuso Valimaki (Calgary Flames) each had a pair of assists in the victory. Nolan Yaremko, Jake Bean (Carolina Hurricanes), and Jordan Topping each added a single assist in the contest.

Rockets forward Kole Lind (Vancouver Canucks) led his team with six shots in the contest. Porter stopped 27 of 32 shots in his WHL playoff debut.

#WHLPlayoffs schedule for Friday, March 23
Game 1 – Friday, March 23 – Prince Albert Raiders at Moose Jaw Warriors – 7 p.m. MT
Game 1 – Friday, March 23 – Regina Pats at Swift Current Broncos – 7 p.m. MT
Game 1 – Friday, March 23 – Red Deer Rebels at Lethbridge Hurricanes – 7 p.m. MT
Game 1 – Friday, March 23 – Brandon Wheat Kings at Medicine Hat Tigers – 7:30 p.m. MT
Game 1 – Friday, March 23 – Vancouver Giants at Victoria Royals – 7:05 p.m. PT
Game 1 – Friday, March 23 – Seattle Thunderbirds at Everett Silvertips – 7:35 p.m. PT

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