Rockets Action Summary – Rockets End Regular-Season On High Note. Post-Season Opponents Yet To Be Determined.

     Triple-header of action.   Let’s get started……………

Friday, Feb.3rd, 2023   Rockets 3 Beaver Valley 2

     As the end of the regular season schedule draws closer, the first game of a big 3-game weekend on home-ice for the Rockets was a fast-paced, exciting contest that went right down to the wire.

     Two evenly-matched teams:  The Rockets looking to put some distance between themselves and Fernie in the Eddie Mountain Division.  And Beaver Valley battling for first place in the Neil Murdoch Division with both Grand Forks and Nelson.  High-calibre action from the opening face-off and, much to the delight of the hometown fans, most of the play was deep in the opposition end.  A balanced Golden attack early placed a great deal of pressure on NiteHawk goalie Connor Stojan, while at the same time the Rocket defence was solid and stingy.

     The visitors did not get their first shot of goal until the 6:00 minute mark, and subsequently didn’t get their second shot until the 12:00 minute mark.  Sandwiched in-between these times was a great defensive play by Rocket rearguard Liam Furlong, who made a terrific backcheck on a Beaver Valley partial breakaway at the midway mark.  The game remained scoreless until late in the frame.

     At 17:10, it looked as if the Rockets would hit the scoreboard first, when smooth-skating Nick Morin made a quick deke on the opposition defenceman but was robbed by Stojan from close-in.  In transition on the same play, the NiteHawks worked the puck over the Golden blueline, and Ethan Smyth’s drive from 20 ft.out deflected off a stick in front, and got behind Levi Hall in the net, for a 1-0 lead.

     In the second period, play was consistently end-to-end.  At the 9-minute mark, crafty Levi Lamotte worked his way behind the defence and into the clear, but was stymied.  Shortly after, at 9:46 Beaver Valley was assessed an interference penalty and the Rockets wasted little time.

     Ten seconds into the powerplay, Kade Cochlan (who played outstanding all game) let go a shot from the face-off circle, and Nick Morin was in perfect position to bang home the rebound to tie the game.  Rockets would then move into the lead at 2-1 just five minutes later (also on the powerplay).  After Beaver Valley had a good scoring chance shorthanded (another key save from Levi Hall), team leader Jordan Lario recorded his 27th goal of the year assisted by Liam Furlong and Levi Lamotte.

     In the final period, at 7:31, Golden were again enjoying a man-advantage, when NiteHawks speedster Austin McLean broke into the clear on a breakaway, only to be thwarted by Levi Hall.  At the 12:38 mark, the visitors managed to tie the game at 2-2, when a shot from the point deflected high into the air, and as Levi Hall lost sight of the puck for a moment, it landed behind him with Joel Smyth getting the goal.

     That set the stage for a terrific finish to the contest.

     With both clubs bearing down defensively, it looked like an overtime session was in the cards.  However, with :19 seconds left in regulation and the face-off deep in the Golden end, the Rockets went to work a final time.

     As Golden won the ensuing faceoff, the puck was sent slowly down the length of the ice by defenceman Nathan Kaye.  Before crossing the end-line however, Rockets Captain Jordan Lario put his speed on display, outracing the NiteHawk players, grabbing the puck in the corner.  He then spotted Dominic Fiorentino cruising through the high slot.  The puck was not on Dominic’s stick for very long, as the talented winger fired a one-timer bullet to the top corner, for the winning goal with just :09 seconds remaining.

     Final score was 3-2.  Rockets outshot Beaver Valley 33-31.  The NiteHawks took four of the six penalties handed out by referee Gerald Hofferd. 

Saturday, Feb.4th, 2023  Chase 4  Rockets 3

     Saturday night’s game marked the return to Golden of former Rockets Head Coach/GM Brad Fox, now in the same capacity with Chase.  Brad was at the helm when the local club was under the moniker ‘Golden Extreme’, and was very successful advancing many young hockey talents to higher levels.  He continues this same success with the Heat.

     This game began with Golden dominating the opening twenty minutes, outshooting Chase 17-8.  For all the effort though, they managed just a single tally for a 1-0 lead on a goal by slick-skating Hayden Barr, who gathered in a huge rebound on the right side of the net.  Heat goalie Meyer Gaume came up big on several occasions, keeping his team in the game.

     In the second period, the Rockets opened up a 3-0 advantage on the strength of tallies from Dominic Fiorentino and Jordan Lario, as the game hit the midway mark.

     The remainder of the contest belonged to the Chase Heat who, behind the strong play of Gaume, began their comeback.

     Just :18 seconds after the Lario goal, the visitors Maddex Bignell struck with a shot deep in the corner, which edged its way between Rocket goalie Matthew Kuhnlein’s shoulder and the post.  Chase would then close the margin to 3-2, at 17:32 when Kabeb Preymak connected.

     In the final frame, the Heat wasted little time drawing even on the scoreboard at 3-3, appropriately just :33 seconds into the period, Mikkel Hrechka pulling the trigger.

     The winning goal came with just over two minutes remaining, as Bignell hit for his second marker of the night.  Rockets pulled their goalie at this point, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

     Final score was 4-3.  Golden outshot Chase 47-33.  Despite the loss, Rocket netminder Matthew Kuhnlein was solid for Golden, turning aside no less than three Heat breakaways.

Sunday, Feb.5th, 2023  Rockets 3  Kimberley 2

     This matchup with the Nitros was the final regular-season game of the year for the Rockets, and a key contest on a couple of fronts.  Kimberley had a remote, mathematical opportunity of catching Columbia Valley, while Golden was once again looking to create some distance away from Fernie in the standings.

     These two clubs have played each other hard all season in their six previous meetings, with each team winning three.  Hockey fans were calling this the ‘rubber match’ for bragging rights, and perhaps a glimpse at a possible post-season scenario.

     The Dynamiters opened the scoring at 8:06 of the first period with a Cash Regan goal, as his shot was deflected in front of the Golden net, and the puck ‘wobbled’ over Levi Hall’s shoulder into the cage.  The visitors would extend the margin to 2-0 at 17:27, when Tristan Weill gathered up a loose puck behind the Rocket net, quickly circled in front and sent a wristshot to the short side.

     The Rockets would cut into the lead at 8:14 of the middle stanza, on the powerplay, when talented Ethan Aebly flew into the Kimberley end, drew the goaltender over to his side of the ice with a good move, then fed a perfect cross-pass to Dominic Fiorentino, who made no mistake.  Near the end of the period, the Nitros had Golden hemmed in deep, but Hall once again came up huge between the pipes.

       The home club came out for the third period on fire, swarming around the Dynamiter end in the early minutes.  This time, it was Kimberley’s goalie Matt Fleet who time and again robbed the Rocket snipers.  But then, at 6:21, Golden’s tenacious forward Brydon Foster finally tucked one behind Fleet, to tie the game at 2-2.

     At the 7:56 mark of the frame, it looked as if the Rockets had moved into the lead, however after referee Brady Pawlachuk and his officials consulted, the goal was disallowed due to the net being off its moorings.

     That set the stage for a tremendous finish to the Rockets regular-season with just :10 seconds remaining on the clock.  As time wound down, Hayden Barr hit Nick Morin with a quick pass on the left wing.  As he entered Kimberley’s end, Morin drew the Nitro defence to the left, then skillfully shovelled a perfect pass to Golden’s sparkplug Levi Lamotte, who brought the hometown fans to their feet with a laser shot to the back of the net.

     Final score was 3-2.  Kimberley outshot Golden 42-30. 


     The final matchups in the first round of the post-season will be determined as the schedule winds down this upcoming weekend.

     Specific information will be provided as it becomes available.