Saturday, November 20th Rockets 3 Grand Forks 2 (Shootout)
After a convincing win over Fernie the night before, the Rockets were looking to grab their second victory Saturday during the “Family Weekend Celebration”, going up against the visiting Grand Forks Border Bruins. Despite being winless thus far this season, the Border Bruins play tough and work extremely hard every game, and we saw great evidence of this all game at the Plywood Palace.
The southern visitors held onto a 1-0 lead after the opening twenty minutes when at 12:39 Hunter Wood hit for his first goal of the year with a quick wrist shot from the high slot. Despite outshooting Grand Forks in the period, the Rockets couldn’t seem to create any sustained offensive pressure. And, when they did work the puck in close, Border Bruins netminder Justin Dueck barred the door effectively. As play continued, Rockets goaltender Michael O’Sullivan also made several key saves at his end of the ice, particularly in the final minute of the period.
Rockets came out stronger in the middle frame, and hit for a pair of tallies to take the lead. At 3:24 Zac Siudy got Golden even at 1-1, when Drayden Gibson neatly won the face-off deep in the Grand Forks end, and Zac’s shot from the right side found its way through a maze of players to the back of the net.
Rockets moved into the lead at 12:55 when, again on a setup from Drayden Gibson, Brydon Foster collected his 6th goal of the year, picking up a loose puck in front of the Bruins’ crease, and made no mistake on a neat deke. Rockets had a brief 5-on-3 power play advantage with three minutes left in the period, but couldn’t connect, as the Grand Forks penalty-kill along with a defiant Dueck came up big.
In the final period, the play evened out considerably. Both netminders were simply outstanding, as play travelled end-to-end for much of the frame. Dueck robbed Rocket speedster Aidan Ballance on a partial breakaway with about six minutes left in the period, and O’Sullivan did likewise with a Grand Forks forward in the final minute.
With :28 seconds left in the period, the Border Bruins pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The resultant offensive pressure paid off as they found the equalizer off a shot from Davis Hunter, just a fraction of a second before the horn sounded. Regulation ended deadlocked at 2-2.
In the five-minute OT session, O’Sullivan was terrific, as Grand Forks opened up the play. The Rocket’s goalkeeper made no less than six key saves in the extra period, including a clearcut breakaway as well as two outstanding glove saves.
He continued the trend in the subsequent shootout, stymying the Grand Forks snipers as Golden’s Henry Loewen and Zac Siudy (with the winner) found the net against Dueck.
Final score 3-2. Rockets outshot Grand Forks 47-35. The Border Bruins took 6 of the 9 penalties handed out by referee Gerald Hofferd.