If the Golden Rockets are to lose their first round series with the Fernie Ghostriders, it won’t be in four games.
The Rockets completed their first task on their way to recovering from an enormous 0-3 hole with a nail-biting 5-4 win on Monday night at the Golden Arena.
It wasn’t easy.
A collective groan could be heard around the rink when Ghostriders captain Dylan Robertson narrowed the Rockets’ lead to a single goal midway through the third. The Ghostrider pressure in the final frame was relentless as wave after wave of players wearing black sweaters stormed into the Rockets’ zone. When Robertson finally broke through, a tying score seemed inevitable to follow.
Instead, it was the Rockets who grabbed the momentum back and held on the rest of the way.
Scooping up a sloppy pass from a Fernie defenceman, fourth line forward Riley Barnes broke in alone against goaltender Jeff Orser. His backhanded attempt was stopped, but the loose puck redirected into the slot, where it waited patiently for whoever was fortunate enough to get there first.
The beneficiary was Braeden Allkins, he of the last second power play goal in the first period that had given the Rockets more momentum than they’d had all series.
Fresh on the ice, Allkins flew into the Fernie zone, wound up, and one timed the puck past a stunned Orser and Golden had its two goal lead once again.
Never mind that the Riders narrowed the gap once more before Cole Mckechney finally iced the game for good, this was a tremendous, hard fought period for a team that has struggled for much of 2015.
“We did a good job, I’m happy with the fact that we didn’t just lay down and die. We put forth a great effort and came away with the win,” Davidson said.
Before the third period dramatics, it was Tanner Watt who willed the club in front alongside Mckechney and Ian Desrosier. Watt opened the scoring with 8:16 left in the first and added another with just over a minute left in the second.
“We’ve kinda been shut down the last couple games and I hadn’t scored in six games so it was nice to get back on the scoresheet,” Watt said.
Spencer Gerth had the only other Rockets goal after he scored on a rebound off a Nick Hoobanoff shot.
Magnus Viberg wasn’t called on very often in the first two periods, but rewarded Davidson’s decision to start him with a very solid third against Fernie’s barrage.
Golden responded well after each Fernie goal by always getting the next one. It was a testament to the team’s focus.
“Even when we did get scored on I thought we came back right away. We didn’t go into a five minute lull,” Davidson said.
As for Game 5 in Fernie on Wednesday, the Rockets are being careful not to look too far ahead as they face elimination for the second time in three nights.
“I just (told the players) ‘the only thing you should be worrying about is your next shift…one shift at a time and we’ll go from there,’ ” Davidson said.
“All the boys want to stay here as long as possible and play as long as we can,” Watt said.
“We’re focusing on the next game and that’s all you can do. You can’t look too far ahead.”
Game 6, should it be necessary, will be in Golden on Friday night.