Rockets captain Michael Anderson battles with Rockies forward Doan Smith during Saturday's game against the Columbia Valley Rockies. Anderson was suspended for two games for having his third head contact penalty of the season.

Rockets close gap to struggling Rockies

The surging Rockets took a big step towards the playoffs last night in Invermere with a 3-2 overtime win over the Rockies.

The surging Rockets took a big step towards the playoffs last night with a 3-2 overtime win over the fourth place Columbia Valley Rockies.

With the possibility of a tie looming large, defenceman Coltin Berard burst into the Rockies’ zone on a 2-on-1 late in the second OT period. Berard showed pass, but shot instead, surprising Rockies’ goaltender Stewart Pratt on the short side.

With the win, the Rockets sit just a single point behind the Rockies for the final playoff spot in the Eddie Mountain Division.

Despite the victory, it was a tough start for Golden as Kyle Pouncy put the Rockies up less than two minutes into the first period.

Ten minutes later the Rockets’ third line chipped in with some offence when Bowen Alcock beat Pratt. Alcock’s linemates David Larouche and Nick McCabe were given the assists on Alcock’s third goal of the season.

With a little over two minutes left in the opening period Michael Anderson was given a two minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct for a hit to the head. It was Anderson’s third such penalty of the season, which means the Rockets captain will be automatically suspended for the club’s next two games.

Just when it appeared the two teams would head into the locker room tied, the Rockies delivered a back-breaking goal in the period’s dying seconds. With Nick Hoobanoff looking on from the penalty box, Rockies rookie Braeden Farge scored a power play goal to send the Rockets to the dressing room down by one.

The rivals tallied 10 shots apiece in the second but Pratt and Rockets netminder Brian Parsons were up to the task each time and the 2-1 score held heading into the final 20.

The Rockets had already failed to score on three power plays when Rockies forwards Ryan Henderson and Stephen Pratt each took minor penalties 53 seconds apart with under six minutes to play, giving the Rockets a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity. With just 18 seconds left in Henderson’s penalty, Hoobanoff atoned for his earlier penalty with his seventh goal of the season. Tanner Watt and Berard were given the assists on the all-important tying goal.

Golden had several opportunities to win the game in overtime before Berard scored to send the Rockets’ bench into a frenzy. It was Berard’s second goal in as many games and gives the veteran six points in his last four games.

“Berard’s play has been excellent,” Rockets head coach Ty Davidson said. “There were a lot of teams that wanted him at the deadline but there was no way I was giving him up…I’m glad I didn’t.”

The importance of the win was not lost on Davidson, who was extremely pleased with the team’s bounce back effort after a Friday night loss to Kimberley.

“We played very well. I thought we carried the play for the most part,” Davidson said. “We just kept coming and coming and coming…It was a huge win for us.”

The Rockets are off until Friday when they’ll visit the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, who currently lead the Neil Murdoch Division with one of the best records in the KIJHL. The following night the Rockets will make a rare trip south of the border to visit the Spokane Braves.

Davidson is hoping to have the services of Sean Ripley for next weekend’s games. Ripley has been recovering from a cracked bone in his elbow and will fill in for Anderson on the blueline if he is cleared to play.

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