The Golden Rockets ended their regular season with a 2-1 win over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats sandwiched between losses to Kimberley and the same Cats. The 1-2 weekend left the Rockets with a 23-24-0-5 record on the season as they head into a first round playoff series with 37-11-1-3 Fernie.
Last weekend’s games lacked importance in the standings but the Rockets were looking for some positive signs heading into the playoffs. Friday’s 7-3 loss to Creston was surely not how they wanted to begin the weekend, but a 2-1 Valentine’s Day win over the Cats and a close 3-2 loss to the surging Kimberley Dynamiters should give the Rockets some confidence heading into the playoffs.
The series against Fernie will get underway tonight at the Fernie Memorial Arena, with Game 2 scheduled for Friday night in Golden.
At first glance, the Rockets might appear overmatched against a club that finished with the second best record in the KIJHL and boasts a potent offence even without injured leading scorer Doan Smith, but there is some room for optimism.
Golden managed three victories against the Riders across eight regular season contests despite dropping three games to their division rivals during a wicked slide in January. If the Rockets can return to form and play as they did through the season’s first four months, they might have a chance at an upset.
“Our group is very confident that we can go in there and knock those guys off,” said head coach Ty Davidson.
Key for Golden, who scored over a goal per game less than Fernie during the regular season, will be the team’s defence and especially, as it is for all teams, its goaltending. The Rockets will have to engage Fernie in low-scoring, tight-checking games because they don’t have the firepower to keep up with one of the highest scoring teams in the league.
As of Monday, Davidson remained noncommittal over whether it would be Magnus Viberg or Mark Becica in net when the team took the ice on Wednesday. He said he was leaning in one direction, but would discuss it further with his assistant coaches before making a final decision.