KELOWNA, B.C. — The Everett Silvertips already had their hands full facing the top team in the Western Hockey League. They made their task even more difficult by handing over a few gifts.
Defensive-zone turnovers killed Everett on Wednesday night as the Tips fell 6-3 to the Kelowna Rockets.
Kelowna, which has the best record in the league, scored three goals directly off Everett turnovers deep in the Tips’ zone to build a 4-1 lead. Everett pulled within one in the third, but the Rockets secured the victory with two late empty-net goals.
Jesse Lees, Marek Tvrdon, Cole Linaker and Tyson Baillie scored, while Ryan Olsen and Tyrell Goulbourne added the empty netters for Kelowna (38-6-0-2). Jordon Cooke earned the win in goal with 27 saves.
Joshua Winquist scored twice and Manraj Hayer also scored for Everett (25-15-6-1). Austin Lotz finished with 24 saves in net for the Tips.
Scoring chances were few and far between during the first period, but when the Rockets were given an opening they took it. Everett turned the puck over in its own zone, allowing Lees to snipe the corner to give Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 9 minutes, 38 seconds.
The defensive-zone turnovers continued to plague Everett in the second period, with one allowing Nick Merkley to circle the Tips net and feed Tvrdon in front to make it 2-0 at 4:28. A period of Rockets pressure then led to Linaker putting a shot past Lotz at 6:55 to put Kelowna up by three.
Winquist got the Tips on the board at 7:51 when he tipped a shot from the point past Cooke. But any momentum Everett might have gained was quickly extinguished when another turnover down low allowed Baillie to score from a tight angle just 26 seconds later.
Winquist was credited with his second of the game at 13:12 as his centering feed was deflected onto the top of the net, hit off Cooke’s back and fell into the net to cut Kelowna’s lead to 4-2.
Everett gave itself a chance by scoring late in the third period to get back within one, Hayer driving the net and scoring with a backhander to make it 4-3 with 5:11 remaining. But the Tips could get no closer.
An Everett penalty killed off two of the remaining minutes, then the Rockets scored quickly both times Lotz was pulled for an extra attacker.
Rockets 6, Silvertips 3
Everett 0 2 1 — 3
Kelowna 1 3 2 — 6
First Period—1, Kelowna, Lees 3 (Linaker), 9:38. Penalties—Baillie, Kelowna (boarding), 10:37.
Second Period—2, Kelowna, Tvrdon 2 (Merkley), 4:28. 3, Kelowna, Linaker 7 (Schmidli, Lees), 6:55. 4, Everett, Winquist 28 (Juulsen, Khaira), 7:51. 5, Kelowna, Baillie 19, 8:17. 6, Everett, Winquist 29 (Sandhu, Hayer), 13:12. Penalties—Martin, Kelowna (interference), 0:47; Betker, Everett (fighting), 8:07; Heffley, Kelowna (fighting), 8:07; Schmidli, Kelowna (hooking), 9:21; Everett bench (too many men, served by Nikolishin), 15:01.
Third Period—7, Everett, Hayer 12 (Winquist, Mueller), 13:12. 8, Kelowna, Olsen 22 (Heffley), 18:33 (en). 9, Kelowna, Goulbourne 7 (Chartier, Heffley), 19:01 (en). Penalties—Heffley, Kelowna (goaltender interference), 1:37; DeRoose, Everett (checking from behind), 10:27; Fonteyne, Everett (tripping), 16:10.
Shots on goal—Everett 10-11-9—30. Kelowna 6-13-11—30. Power-play opportunities—Everett 0 of 5. Kelowna 0 of 3.
Goalies—Everett, Lotz 18-13-3-1 (28 shots, 24 saves). Kelowna, Cooke 28-3-0-2 (30 shots, 27 saves).