When the games start to count on Sept. 11, the Golden Rockets will be icing a much different team than the one that opened the pre-season Sunday night against the Columbia Valley Rockies. That’s probably not a bad thing, the Rockets having been beaten 5-0 by their Highway 95 rivals following a grueling weekend camp.
“We’ve worked the guys hard this weekend and I know they’re tired, but no excuses…no goals, that’s not a good start,” said head coach Jason Stephens.
Still, August hockey isn’t so much about what the scoreboard says at the end of 60 minutes, instead it’s about the way the team meshes as the game goes on. Despite the lopsided final, there were some positives evident for Stephens.
“I think there were some definite positives that we can take from it…we’ve had a long weekend to this point so it’ll be nice to have a little bit of downtime before the next one, get a little energy and be able to play 60 minutes,” he said.
The two clubs played an even first period that produced little in the way of offensive chances. Both teams skated with a lineup that included several underage players, giving the two coaching staffs an extra look at some of the young talent they might have at their disposal throughout the season. That, coupled with a mix of returning players and new recruits combined to create a defensive opening 20, which isn’t that surprising as the rust of a long off-season begins to fade.
“I think it takes a little while to find the chemistry and guys have to figure out who their linemates are going to be,” Stephens said.
The Rockies opened the scoring early in the second and added a pair of goals on odd-man rushes midway through the frame to take a commanding lead. They’d take a 4-0 lead into the third and add one more before the final buzzer.
The Rockets had numerous chances on goal mouth scrambles but could never seem to find that elusive loose puck on any of those occasions. They totalled 35 shots in the shutout defeat.
A handful of players are expected to be returned from Junior A tryouts over the next week or so, meaning that Stephens will have some decisions to make shortly regarding potential cuts. It is expected that a few of those cuts will come down before the club’s next exhibition game.
Golden will be in Invermere on Sept. 3 for a return date with the Rockies. Their next home contest will be on Sept. 4 against the Revelstoke Grizzlies.