Promising 2015 ahead for Golden athletes

There are a pair of local teams and athletes that are turning heads against their provincial competition, and it's time we took notice.

As 2014 comes to a close, there are a pair of local teams and athletes that are turning heads against their provincial competition, and it’s time Goldenites took notice.

After a dismal 2013-2014 season that saw the team win just 15 of 52 games, the Golden Rockets are much improved this year and already have four more wins than a year ago. The Rockets have all but clinched a playoff spot in the Eddie Mountain Division and will now hope to lock down second place in order to give themselves home ice in the first round of the post-season. With just a three point gap to the third place Kimberley Dynamiters and 15 games remaining, it’s sure to be an exciting finish that could come down to the season’s final game, a Feb. 15 date in Kimberley.

Best of all, the Rockets are achieving success on the strength of some outstanding performances from local players.

Ian Desrosier leads all Golden Rockets in scoring with 44 points in 35 games, including 23 goals (a remarkable six of which have come while the club was shorthanded). Desrosier’s fantastic season has him in a tie for sixth place in the KIJHL in points and fifth in goals. A late charge and he could be in the conversation for the league’s scoring title when all is said and done.

Braeden Allkins is another long-time Rocket who grew up in Golden. Allkins has 32 points in 35 games thus far, putting him nine back of his career high. Meanwhile, Travis Kelley has chipped in five goals and nine points while providing his usual dose of sandpaper, size and toughness to the Rockets’ lineup. And, of course, there is Daniel Dahlin who logs minutes in all situations and sports the ‘C’ as the Rockets’ captain, a rarity for a Goldenite.

On the hardwood, Golden Secondary’s senior boys’ basketball team has yet to lose a game this year after flying through their first three tournaments. The Eagles rank 5th in the ultra-competitive Double A division, wedged inbetween the Collingwood Cavaliers from West Vancouver and the G.W. Graham Grizzlies of Chilliwack. This is the final season for stars Saje Gosal and Neal Randhawa, who grew up playing basketball in Golden and will graduate at the end of the year (with university careers sure to follow). The Eagles are also receiving some impressive performances from the supporting cast and because of that depth, they have their sights set high going forward. After an appearance at the provincial championships in Langley last year, the team will be looking to make a return trip and then improve upon last season’s showing. Until someone actually beats them, who’s to say they can’t win it all?

The Rockets had 191 fans out for their last home game against Columbia Valley (after managing just 170 against Castlegar the game before that) and have lingered around the 200 mark for much of the season. That’s slightly less than what the Columbia Valley Rockies (a team with only six wins this season) had for its last home game before the break. It’s also half of what Kimberley received when the Rockets visited them on Dec. 13. Naturally, population differences play a role in attendance, but surely we can do better than a shade under 200 fans per game for the highest level of hockey within a couple hundred kilometres of Golden.

Eagles players and coaches have expressed to me the overwhelming support they’ve felt from a dedicated group of travelling parents, friends and fans so far this season, which is great to hear. The Eagles have yet to play at home, but are in the process of finalizing dates for a home tournament. With this tournament representing the easiest opportunity for locals to cheer on a very talented group of basketball players, it would be great to see a huge crowd make the trip to GSS to cheer them on.

After all, this is our town and these two teams (and many others) are ours to support.