iSight Optometry RECAP: McMillen posts three point night in Rockets overtime loss to Winterhawks
The Kelowna Rockets opened their 2023-24 regular season schedule with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night at Prospera Place.
Kelowna opened the scoring, but Portland quickly charged back to take the lead by the end of the first period Portland led 4-2. The Rockets responded with three unanswered goals to hold 5-4 lead just past the midway point of the third period, but the Winterhawks made another push to force the game into overtime, where Marcus Nguyen scored the game-winner.
“First period, you’ve got a rookie goaltender in there and a real young back end, some guys up front that were chomping at the bit to get after it,” said Kris Mallette in his postgame interview.
“We took some ill-advised penalties and got off to a start that we didn’t really want. But (we had) a real good second period, something that we weren’t able to do last year, win a bunch of second periods. So we came out of that with confidence, so it was a good first start.”
Twenty-year-old forward Turner McMillen earned the game’s second star after recording a team-high three-point (2G, 1A) night.
Kelowna was without Andrew Cristall (WSH), Jackson DeSouza (DET) and Jari Kykkanen (CAL), who are all away at NHL camps. Veteran players Marcus Pacheco (2-4 weeks) and Caden Price (week-to-week) both missed the game due to lower-body injuries.
Tij Iginla (1) poked the puck past a Witnerhawk defender and took off to the net, where he cut across the crease and scored the WHL’s highlight of the night goal. Portland’s special teams got to work quickly pushing them ahead, with a power play goal from Jack O’Brien (1) 49 seconds later, and a short-handed tally from James Stefan (2) moments after that. While on the man advantage, Marek Rocak’s shot found it’s way through the crowd where Turner McMillen (1) got a piece of it. Nicholas Johnson (1) and Gabe Klassen (2) would hold off the Rockets with a pair of goals to head into the first intermission with a 4-2 lead.
Marcus Nguyen (2) gave the Winterhawks their first win of the season 1:42 into extra time.