Helenius, T-Birds move on to WHL Semi Finals

In a very exciting game seven of the Thunderbirds' first round of playoffs, Riku Helenius was named the game's number one star stopping 31 of 33 shots before 3,077 fans at Key Arena to lead Seattle to a 4-2 win.

This was a game where special teams and the goaltending of Riku Helenius was the difference between the closely matched teams of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets went 0 for 8 on the powerplay, including a minute and 44 second 5 on 3 and a four minute high sticking call. The birds also netted a short handed goal in this contest. Riku was very good when he had to be and Torrie Jung did not play for the Rockets. The Thunderbirds will now take on the Tri City Americans beginning Friday night.

Game 7: (5) Kelowna Rockets 2 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 4
Seattle wins Best of 7 series 4-3

G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: Did not play
Series: 1 GP, 0-0, 3.82 GAA, .850 sv%

G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Win, 31 saves on 33 shots, *First Star*
Series: 6 GP, 3-3, 2.65 GAA, .903 sv%

What’s Next for Jung: Torrie Jung had an up-and-down year that was “highlighted” by a constant fight for playing time. Just when Jung seemed to secure the No.1 goaltender spot from overager Kristofer Westblom, it seemed like he’d endure some bad luck and/or a losing streak. Barring unforeseen circumstances, a No.1 fight won’t be happening next year in Kelowna. Jung has put in his time for two years and next year the Rocket’s playoff hopes will be clearly on his shoulders. It will be interesting to see how Jung prepares for this new role this summer through offseason workouts and pre-season preparation. How he performs as a No.1 next year will determine his professional future. The Rockets were the second youngest team in the WHL this year and will return the league’s runner up for top scorer and Californian, Colin Long (100 points), as well as likely top-5 pick, defenseman Luke Schenn, who was reportedly impressive in the Seattle series. They will be one of the preseason league favorites and how Jung plays will go a long way to determining their 2008-2009 success.

*Chad contributed to this report. (And thanks to BP Guest Writer Ffan23 for the first-hand game report.)