The Rockets might have a worthy gripe regarding the officiating on Saturday night, but in the end Jason Stephens’ group would have found themselves on the wrong end of the score line no matter who was wearing the black and white stripes.
That’s the reality in a 6-1 game against a rapidly improving Columbia Valley Rockies squad that took both ends of a home and home with Golden by a 12-1 aggregate, following a 6-0 shutout win on Friday night.
Still, Golden got the raw end of the calls in the first, which clearly didn’t help their chances, and Stephens had a lengthy discussion with the game’s referee following the final buzzer.
“He’s a young official…I just thought he was really inconsistent tonight, both ways, not just our way,” Stephens said.
The Rockies got on the board early with Michael Cardinal scoring after a nice feed by former Rocket Nick Hoobanoff.
The Rockies extended their advantage with a controversial goal a few minutes later.
Some lovely one-touch passing on the power play set up Nigel Swab with a wide open cage in front of a helpless Brody Nelson in goal. Swab wristed a shot high that appeared to clang off the crossbar and deflect harmlessly away from the Rockets’ net.
Play continued, but at the next whistle the referee decided to award a goal to the Rockies after conferring with his linesmen, apparently determining that the puck had hit the back bar inside the Rocket net.
“I didn’t see it from the bench, but from what I’ve seen it looks like it came up in the air after hitting the bar. If it hit the back bar, there’s no way it goes in the air so I was a little confused by that,” Stephens said.
The goal seemed to have left the Rockets rattled. They took a couple more penalties and the Rockies took control of the game with another power play goal before the end of the opening frame.
Golden played its best period of the night in the second and Mathew Thiessen broke any thoughts the Rockies might have had of another shutout when he fired home a puck after a lively bounce off the end boards.
The Rockets had numerous chances to open the third period and put a dent in the 3-1 deficit, but Davin Burton took the wind out of the home team’s sails with Columbia Valley’s fourth goal. Hoobanoff and Harrison Davies added the insurance in the 6-1 final.
“In the first period, we didn’t compete very hard. We were in the game but…didn’t have a presence really,” Stephens said.
“We’re pushing the guys really hard and I know that they’re frustrated at times…we’re young and trying to develop a young team here but we have to be consistent with our efforts.”
Back behind the Rockets’ bench was longtime assistant Danny Orr, who had attended several Rockets’ practices in recent weeks before deciding to return to the club on a full-time basis.
“(Jason and I) have talked over the last little while, I was part of hiring him too. I’ve been in contact with the boys all the time…I’ve been out to practice with them for the last little bit and just decided to come back,” Orr said.
Stephens believes his experience will be invaluable alongside both himself and first year assistant Jay LaRoy.
“I think it’s a great addition for us,” he said.
As for what finally got Orr to return, perhaps it was the influence of Stephens’ father and assistant GM, Ted, who spoke to Orr at practice on Thursday.
“(He said) ‘alright, enough is enough. Time to get back on the bench’,” Stephens laughed. “Danny kind of caved into the old man so that was perfect.”
The Rockets will be back on home ice this afternoon when they play host to former captain Ian Desrosier and the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.