In the final weekend of regular season play in the Kootenay International Junior Ice Hockey League, the Golden Rockets went 2 and 0 against a team they have struggled to beat all season long.
The Rockets beat the Creston Valley Thundercats in back-to-back games, first on Saturday Feb. 18 in Creston.
In a 6-4 win over the Thundercats, the Rockets took the lead early with a goal from Kyle Garcia, but it was short lived as the Thundercats answered back with a tying goal less than a minute later.
Connor Beauchemin brought the score up to 2-1 for Golden, but a goal from Creston Valley’s Brandon Formosa left the game tied at 2 heading into the first intermission.
The Rockets scored three in a row in the middle frame from Jacob Bergeron, Keith Wake and Lane Erickson. Creston Valley tallied the next two, from Jordan Johnson late in the second, and Brock Ward in the third.
Darren Andre got the final point of the night shorthanded for the Rockets at 5:53 in the third.
Sunday afternoon the Thundercats came to Golden to play a makeup game. They were unable to make a game here in January because of a road closure.
The Rockets top line put their team ahead early on with a goal from Andre, off of Wake and Garcia.
After a scoreless second period the Thundercats pushed as hard as they could, outshooting the Rockets 16-6 in final 20 minutes. One of those shots made it past goaltender Jarrod Schamerhorn at 2:59.
Creston Valley decided to pull their goalie with 1:46 left on the clock, but Golden held on to win the game 2-1.
“I think it’s hugely important,” said Rockets Head Coach Ty Davidson about ending the season on a win.
“It’s obviously pretty hard to measure, but we’ve won four of our last five games. And the one we lost was against Beaver Valley, one of the top teams in the league, and we were missing four of our better players. So having all this momentum going into the playoffs, it can’t do anything but help.”
The Rockets have struggled in the past two months of the season, but Davidson is happy with the way his team has been playing in the last couple weeks.
“We are absolutely playing the best hockey of the season right now, so that bodes well for us going into a tough series against Fernie,” he said.
The first round of the playoffs, in which the Rockets will face off in a seven game series against the Fernie Ghostriders, starts on Feb. 24 in Fernie. The Ghostriders were battling for the top spot in the division with the Kimberley Dynamiters, a spot that they just clinched this past weekend.
“I don’t know if I’m glad (that Fernie won), I’m pretty indifferent. They’re both strong teams, and they both finished quite a ways ahead of us in the standings. And they both had success against us. Having said that, I think the way we’re playing right now, we match up pretty well against them,” said Davidson.
The Rockets have four days off before their first playoff game, but they will keep fairly busy preparing.
“We’ll practice our normal three times this week. We’re going to have a day off tomorrow and let everybody heal up. There’s not too much rest though, we’ll be working on things, and be proactive,” said Davidson. “We need to prepare for a very strong Fernie team.”
Games 3 and 4 will be played on Monday Feb. 27 and Tuesday Feb. 28 at the Golden Arena.