Losers of four straight, the Golden Rockets have seen a modest lead for the final playoff spot disappear over the past couple weeks. They’ll need a win against the Columbia Valley Rockies in the club’s final regular season game Friday night to have any chance to make the post-season.
The Rockies also have a game on Saturday night against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, so it’s not quite a “win and they’re in” scenario for Golden.
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m at the Golden and District Arena.
Here’s a full breakdown of the all important 52nd game of the Rockets’ season:
The Rockets clinch a playoff spot with:
-A regulation win and a Rockies regulation loss, OT loss or tie against Creston Valley
-an OT win and a Rockies regulation loss or tie against Creston Valley.
Keys to the game for Golden:
After an up and down start to his KIJHL career, Rockets netminder Brian Parsons has been steady since the Christmas break with a goals against average (G.A.A.) right around the 3.50 mark and a 6-7-1 in 2014. The Rockets desperately need Parsons to rebound from a tough weekend against the Thunder Cats that saw him get pulled early on Feb. 14 and give up a pair of goals in the third the next night in the team’s narrow 4-3 home loss.
2. Top line scoring
Head coach Ty Davidson went all-in when he moved Tanner Watt onto a line with Cole Mckechney and Braeden Allkins three games ago. So far the move, which puts the Rockets’ top three scorers onto one line, has paid off. The trio has combined for two goals and seven assists over the team’s last three games, and Davidson will be looking for that kind of offence to continue. It will have to for the Rockets to have any chance of extending their season.
3. Special teams
The Rockets’ power play has shown some signs of life in February after struggling for much of the year. They’ve converted on six of their last 26 opportunities, good for a 24 per cent clip. Similarly, their penalty kill has done its job, allowing just four power play goals this month, with an 86 per cent success rate. They won the special teams battle in each of their last two matchups with the Rockies, a trend that they’ll be desperate to continue.
Rockies player to watch:
Veteran forward Ryan Henderson has far and away led the Rockies in scoring with 22 goals and 24 assists. His 46 points are 16 clear of the Rockies’ number two scorer, Doan Smith. Henderson has put up five goals and two assists against the Rockets this season and the task of shutting him down will be an important one. Rockets veteran defencemen Michael Anderson and Coltin Berard have been paired together in recent games. Look for them to match up against the Rockies’ top line.
Sept. 18: Columbia Valley Rockies 4, Golden Rockets 3
Sept. 21: Golden Rockets 3, Columbia Valley Rockies 5
Oct. 15: Golden Rockets 3, Columbia Valley Rockies 4
Oct 23: Columbia Valley Rockies 1, Golden Rockets 5
Jan. 18:Golden Rockets 3, Columbia Valley Rockies 2, (OT)
Feb. 7: Golden Rockets 3, Columbia Valley Rockies 2
Feb: 8 Columbia Valley Rockies 5, Golden Rockets 4
*away team listed first