The Kelowna Rockets are the 2009 WHL Western Conference Champions after defeating the Vancouver Giants in six games in the Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship series, culminating with a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 6 on Monday, April 27th, in Kelowna, B.C.
WHL Western Conference Champions for the first time since 2005, the Rockets will now face the Calgary Hitmen in the best-of-seven 2009 WHL Championship series.
Mikael Backlund scored three goals for the Rockets in Game 6, including netting the overtime winner four minutes into the extra frame. Backlund, who joined the Rockets in January after playing for Sweden at the World Junior Championship, redirected a Tysen Dowzak point shot early in overtime to lift the Rockets to the win.
Jamie Benn and Cody Almond also scored for the Rockets, who erased a 4-2 deficit with only 4:05 remaining in the third period to send the game to overtime. Mark Guggenberger made 13 saves to claim his 12th post-season win.
Evander Kane – with two goals – Jonathon Blum and James Henry scored for the Giants, who were outshot 32-17 by the host Rockets in the Game 6 defeat. Tyson Sexsmith made 27 saves in the loss. With the defeat, the Giants see their season come to an end.
Rockets defenseman Tyler Myers was named the MVP of the 2009 Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship series.
Kelowna wins best-of-seven series 4-2.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)