A home win, and a road loss was in the cards for the Rockets over the weekend, as they trimmed the Nelson Leafs Friday and were edged-out in Kimberley Saturday.
Friday, Dec.9th, 2022 Rockets 8 Nelson 3
The Nelson Leafs came into Golden looking to catch Grand Forks for top spot in the Neil Murdoch Division, while the hometown Rockets were striving to keep pace in the race for first in the Eddie Mountain circuit. In the absence of Golden’s Levi Hall, Rocket’s rookie netminder Matthew Kuhnlein was between the pipes for the home club for the weekend, with Affiliate Goalie Brody Taylor called up from Cranbrook as backup.
The opening period saw both clubs take turns generating several scoring opportunities. Nelson had most of the pressure early, ringing a pair of shots off the goalposts, while Matthew Kuhnlein turned aside everything else which came his way.
Golden struck for the only goal of the period, at 12:16, when Gavin Kennedy fed a cross pass from the left side to Hayden Barr, who stepped across the blue line and fired one of his patented hard wristshots that found the top corner.
In the second period, Nelson again turned on the offence early, hitting for a pair of goals off the sticks of Owen McFarlane and Johnny Carmichael to take the lead at 2-1. But the Rockets began to take over the play shortly afterwards.
In the final five minutes of the period the hard work paid off, as Golden hit for four tallies in succession. At 15:06 Nick Morin got things going with a neat deflection off a setup from Levi Lamotte and Ethan Aebly. Just :19 seconds later, Gavin Kennedy and Hayden Barr worked the puck to the Nelson net, where Evan Tsadilas banged home a loose puck.
Two minutes later, the Rockets powerplay connected as Captain Jordan Lario finished off a quick passing clinic from Nick Morin and Levi Lamotte. With just under one minute remaining in the frame, Golden ran the score to 5-2 on the prettiest play of the evening. With a full-speed offensive rush up ice, Ethan Aebly dished the puck neatly to Brydon Foster flying down the wing, who made one slick move on the Nelson defence, then slid a perfect feed to Austin Angus on the left side, whose one-timer to the back of the twine brought the hometown crowd to its feet.
The Rockets strong defence kept the Leafs at bay for much of the final stanza while Golden added a trio of goals. Dominic Fiorentino got things moving with a laser wristshot from the top of the left circle that found the range, followed up by a pair of markers from Golden speedster Nick Morin (for his hat-trick), as the club rolled to an eventual 8-3 win.
Nelson outshot Golden 42-31.
Saturday, Dec.10th, 2022 Kimberley 3 Rockets 1
The KickingHorse band travelled south to Kimberley Saturday night, to tangle with the Dynamiters in a key contest.
Play was fairly even through the first twenty minutes that saw each team have a couple of powerplays. The Nitros hit the scoreboard first just after the midway mark with a Campbell McLean tally.
No scoring in the middle period, with the play becoming a bit rough at times. Rockets penalty-kill units came up big on several occasions, backed by the play of Matthew Kuhnlein in goal.
Kimberley managed to extend their lead to 3-0 with goals from veterans Cam Reid and Christian Mealey at 11:20 and 15:51. Rockets managed to reply less than two minutes later, with KIJHL’s top scoring defenceman Ethan Aebly’s powerplay goal (assisted by play-making specialist Levi Lamotte). But time ran out on the clock for the Rockets in this one, as Kimberley came away with the 3-1 win. Rocket netminder Matthew Kuhnlein was kept busy in the crease, turning aside 41 of the 44 Nitro drives.
Tuesday night, the Rockets will again head to Kimberley for a return match, looking to close the gap on the Nitros and the Rockies.