Tanner Watt continued his torrid pace since his return and Magnus Viberg stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced as the Rockets blew up the previously undefeated Kimberley Dynamiters by a 6-2 score Saturday night.
Coming off a pair of poor showings last weekend, the Rockets looked re-energized from the get-go Friday night and the strong effort in the win over Fernie carried over to Saturday’s matchup with Kimberley. Head coach Ty Davidson agrees the team made a statement against what appears to be its toughest competition this season in the Eddie Mountain Division.
“Before the game I said (to the team) ‘They’re coming in here 6-0, we have a chance to make a statement to the league that we’re for real,” Davidson said.
Watt got things started in the first with an early goal, but the Dynamiters responded with a power play goal of their own to send the teams to the dressing room tied at a goal apiece.
There were some anxious moments in the second for the Rockets’ home crowd, but time and again Viberg was there to shut the door.
His best save of the night was a slick glove stop that came early in the period.
“I just remember them shooting it and it getting blocked, then a guy picking it up and throwing it over,” Viberg recalled. “I didn’t even see the guy there, I just slid across, saw him shoot, and managed to snag that one.”
It was all Golden from there.
Midway through the period Watt fired a puck from the corner towards the front of the Dynamiter net. It took a favourable bounce and slipped past Kimberley goalie Tyson Brouwer.
Later in the period, the trio of Watt, Cole Mckechney and Ian Desrosier were at it again. Mckechney posted up in front of Brouwer like an NBA power forward waiting for the basketball. Watt tried to get it to him once, but it hit a skate and bounced away. The second attempt got through however, and Mckechney showed off some soft hands while slipping the puck past Brouwer and into the empty net.
The Rockets put the game to rest in the third with a goal on a brilliant 2 on 0 rush by James Gaume and Spencer Gerth and an Austin Pultz goal just over a minute later.
Later, the Dynamiters finally solved Viberg for the second time, but it was far too little and far too late to make a difference. Watt added an empty netter for a hat trick in just his second game of the season.
With five goals and seven points in two games since his return, it was a rather triumphant comeback for the Terrace native.
“Playing with Cole and Ian last year definitely helped. We built some chemistry last season and it’s carrying forward to this season,” Watt said.
When asked why he finally decided to return to the team that he co-lead in scoring a year ago, Watt had a simple response.
“I missed hockey and I missed all my friends,” Watt said.
As for Viberg, who arrived in Golden as a backup to starter Mitchell Privett, the win on Saturday was his second in as many nights, and he now boasts a sparkling 2.87 G.A.A. and a .914 SV% in just four appearances. Viberg’s experience in the league seems to have given him the upper hand over Privett so far, and while Davidson was confident that fans would be seeing a lot more of Viberg in the future, he wasn’t prepared to dismiss Privett either.
“I’m not writing off Mitchell yet. We’ve got two capable goaltenders. Obviously the hot one (now) is Magnus, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that he is comfortable,” Davidson said. “He knows the buildings, the guys, the shooters, and I think that has a lot to do with his success early on, plus he’s a fabulous athlete and he competes so hard. We’re lucky to have him.”
The Rockets will be off until Friday when they travel south to face the Columbia Valley Rockies before hosting their Highway 95 rivals on Saturday at the Golden Arena.