Rockets fans were anticipating plenty of exciting action at the Plywood Palace in Saturday’s matchup against the visiting Grand Forks Border Bruins. And both teams delivered …………
Saturday, Nov.12th, 2022 Rockets 4 Bruins 3
Before their hometown fans, Golden entered the game looking to avenge a 4-1 defeat a week prior in the West Kootenay centre. The play in that contest was much closer than the score would indicate, and the rematch in Kicking Horse Country promised more of the same.
Adding to the drama of the game was the fact that the two winningest goaltenders in the KIJHL (Border Bruins Ethan Shepansky and Rockets Levi Hall) were about to do battle. And both were busy in this one.
Grand Forks held much of the territorial play in the early minutes of the opening period, and struck for the first tally at 4:49 with a good deke from Spencer Horning. The Border Bruins defensive game was also strong, not allowing Golden their first shot on goal until nearly seven minutes into the period. But at the midway mark of the frame the Rockets began to press.
At around the 13:00 minute mark, smooth-skating Nick Morin had a good chance when he was left all alone in the slot, but Shebansky came up with a huge stop. Golden was undeterred however, as just :27 seconds later Kole Giesbrecht and Hayden Barr (with some great forechecking in the corner) relayed the puck to Evan Tsadilas in front, and the talented rookie tucked the disc down low to tie the game at 1-1.
Near the end of the period, Rockets netminder Levi Hall came up big with a pair of outstanding saves off the Bruins attack.
The Rockets began the middle stanza on the powerplay. But it was Grand Forks Jackson Smith utilizing his speed which gave the visitors the lead with a shorthanded goal on a breakaway at 1:01. The Rockets remained undaunted and, on the same powerplay, deadlocked the score quickly just :27 seconds later with Kylow Monkman pulling the trigger on a setup from Dominic Fiorentino and Liam Furlong.
At the 13:20 mark, a Liam Furlong blast from the left point found its way through a maze of players in front of the Grand Forks net, to give the Rockets a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
The tables were turned a little as the third period began, this time with the Border Bruins having the man-advantage. A Chad Bates goal just :49 seconds in tied things up again at 3-3. Golden ran into some penalty trouble around the 4:00 mark with a pair of minor penalties in just :20 seconds. But great defensive work backed by three timely saves by Levi Hall kept the score even.
With five minutes left, the Goldenites began to pressure the Bruins deep, creating several scoring opportunities, but Shepansky came up big. Regulation ended 3-3.
In the OT session, the best chance went to Grand Forks with one minute left, as a shot from the left wing got in behind Hall and rolled towards the goal-line, but the Rockets managed to clear it away quickly.
In the player-shootout, Levi Hall was flawless turning aside all Grand Forks drives, while the Rockets winning goal came off the stick of Captain Jordan Lario (named this week as the KIJHL’s Star Forward Of The Month for October). Jordan smoothly approached the net, drew Shepansky to the right side before sliding the puck low to the left corner.
Final score was 4-3. Rockets were outshot 45-39. With the victory, Golden moves to just a single point out of first place in the tough Eddie Mountain Divisional standings.
Rockets will be busy next weekend, back on the road with action in the Bill Ohlhausen Division against Princeton, Osoyoos and Kelowna in quick succession.