The Golden Rockets lost at home for the first time since Sept. 20 on an overtime goal from Chase Heat forward Connor Venne. While the 44-22 shot advantage for the Rockets would seem to indicate an unlucky fate, several defensive breakdowns and a poor power play were the real culprits in the Rockets’ defeat.
“Too many of our guys didn’t bring their best effort tonight,” said Rockets’ head coach Ty Davidson. “I thought we were mentally not as sharp as we should be, right from the get go.”
Throughout the first 20 minutes of play, the Rockets peppered Heat goaltender Michael Byer with 18 shots, but few were of the dangerous variety and he easily turned them all away. While the Heat, managed just 7 shots on goal in the opening frame, two of them found their way past Rockets’ goaltender Brian Parsons to give the Heat an early two goal advantage.
It looked much more promising for the Rockets in the second period as rookie first line centre Tanner Watt continued his torrid pace with a goal that was aided by veteran blue liners Coltin Berard and Brett DeFrias. The Heat responded swiftly, however, when Kaleb Boyle scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season to restore the two goal advantage. The Rockets got their third of three power play opportunities a few minutes later, but generated little in the way of offense, something that has become a theme recently for Davidson’s crew.
“[The power play] is awful right now, it’s like four or five games now,” Davidson said following the loss. “Some guys are on their own agenda and not playing the system and not executing.”
The statistics show that the Rockets’ power play struggles are very real. Since Cole Mckechney scored with the man-advantage on Oct. 15, the Rockets have failed to score on 26 straight power play opportunities, a streak that now spans 6 games after their 0/3 performance against the Heat.
Thankfully for the Rockets, even strength production has not been a problem of late, and that continued to be the case on Friday night. Connor Beauchemin and Nick Hoobanoff scored a pair of goals 3 minutes apart to tie things up heading into the third. Beauchemin scored his 13th goal of the season on a breakaway after a nice set up from defenceman Dustin Watt, who also notched an assist on Hoobanoff’s goal. The points were the first two of his young KIJHL career.
Both goaltenders calmly shut the door in the third period, sending the game into overtime and guaranteeing both sides at least one point.
Much to the dismay of the 217 fans on hand at the Plywood Palace, it was the Heat who would get the extra point when Venne beat Parsons with 2:45 left to play in the extra period.
“We do have a pretty good team, so we were able to scratch and claw and skill our way to tie the game, but I thought we were fortunate to get a point, let alone anything else,” Davidson said.
Despite the loss, the Rockets have now taken 11 of a possible 12 points in their last 6 home games. Their road woes, however, have prevented them from moving out of the basement in the Eddie Mountain Division. The Rockets will look to improve their road record tonight against the Fernie Ghostriders, who are one of the teams that the Rockets are looking to chase down. Golden has lost both of their games in Fernie this season, including a 4-0 defeat last Saturday.