Rockets Fall In Overtime

September 24, 2023 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Kelowna Rockets News Release

Portland Winterhawks' Diego Buttazzoni versus Kelowna Rockets' Jackson Gillespie
Portland Winterhawks' Diego Buttazzoni versus Kelowna Rockets' Jackson Gillespie
(Kelowna Rockets, Credit: Steve Dunsmoor/Kelowna Rockets)

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.

It was a high-scoring affair, that saw 2006-born goaltenders Jake Pilon and Luke Brunen both make their first WHL ever regular season starts.

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.

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.

Ethan Neutens (1) chipped in a power play goal 3:06 into the second frame. Michael Cicek fed the puck cross-ice to a charging Turner McMillen (2) for his second of the game.

Tied at four heading into the third period, the puck went off of Trae Johnson's (1) skate and into the net with 7:50 to play in regulation. Nicholas Johnson (2) once again tied the game.

Marcus Nguyen (2) gave the Winterhawks their first win of the season 1:42 into extra time.


Kelowna was 2/5 on the powerplay, while Portland was 1/6

The Winterhawks outshot the Rockets 36-30

Rockets goaltender Jake Pilon stopped 30 of the 36 shots he faced

Jackson Gillespie, Hiroki Gojsic and Jake Pilon all made their WHL regular-season debuts

Portland and Kelowna will play each other three more times this season, their next meeting is set for January 17, 2024 at Prospera Place


The Rockets are off until next weekend when the WHL's newest team, the Wenatchee Wild, will make their first visit to Propsera Place. Single-game tickets for the entire Rockets regular season as well as Mini Packs are now on sale at Select Your Tickets.

Single Game Tickets can be purchased:

Online at

By calling Select Your Tickets at 250-762-5050

Or by visiting the Select Your Tickets box office at the Prospera Place box office. The box office is open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. Monday through Friday, and opens at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday home game days.

Six and twelve game Mini Packs for the Kelowna Rockets season are now on sale through Select Your Tickets.

Images from this story

Portland Winterhawks' Diego Buttazzoni versus Kelowna Rockets' Jackson Gillespie
Portland Winterhawks' Diego Buttazzoni versus Kelowna Rockets' Jackson Gillespie

(Steve Dunsmoor/Kelowna Rockets)

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