It was a down and then up kind of weekend for the Golden Rockets, as they experienced both a blowout loss and their first win since October, snapping what had become an 11 game losing streak.
Playing without forward Connor Beauchemin, who was traded to Castlegar earlier on Friday, the Rockets failed to snap their 11 game losing streak following a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on home ice. The loss drops the Rockets’ record to 6-19-0-2 and leaves them 9 points shy of the Columbia Valley Rockies and the final playoff spot in the Eddie Mountain Division.
The game got off to a fairly even start for both sides, with the Nitehawks outshooting the Rockets 13-10 in the first period. It appeared as if the two squads would go into the intermission scoreless, but with 2:46 remaining in the first Drayton Brennan gave the Nitehawks the lead when he beat Rockets’ netminder Brian Parsons.
The game started to turn decidedly in the Nitehawks’ favour midway through the second when Lyle Frank gave Beaver Valley a two goal lead, but a lengthy 5-on-3 soon after gave the Rockets a “golden” opportunity to get back into the game. Unfortunately for the home side, the two man advantage wasn’t enough to get them on the board. Some back and forth passing in the offensive zone looked promising at times but didn’t deliver any legitimate scoring chances, and the failure to score appeared to be a real backbreaker for head coach Ty Davidson’s crew.
“That 5-on-3 was basically the turning point of the game, if we score there then it’s 2-1 and I think we’ve got a shot,” Davidson said.
The Nitehawks added to their lead just prior to the intermission when they scored with just 10 seconds left, further damaging the Rockets’ aspirations of a third period comeback. Nevertheless, there was a glimmer of hope for the 143 fans that turned up at the Plywood Palace when Brett DeFrias rifled home a power play marker less than 3 minutes into the third. The hope was short-lived however, as the Nitehawks restored their three goal cushion just 30 seconds later, giving the Rockets very little chance at a comeback. Beaver Valley added a pair of goals late in the third to further cement the 6-1 win.
Confidence was clearly lacking for the Rockets at both ends of the ice, something that is far from surprising given their recent woes.
“Right now, mentally, I think we’re a pretty fragile group. I think any group that’s dropped 11 games in a row, needless to say they are going to be fragile mentally. We’ve just gotta keep our heads up and get out of this,” Davidson said.
While Davidson was quick to credit the Nitehawks for their solid play, he wasn’t happy with the effort from his team.
“I apologize to all the fans that came out…because that wasn’t a very good effort,” he said.
There were no apologizes from Davidson to any dedicated fans that made the trip to Creston the next night for the club’s contest with the Thunder Cats. The Rockets got off to a flying start from the opening face-off and potted three goals before the first period was 10 minutes old. Nick McCabe, who recently returned from injury, got things started two minutes into the game, with Tanner Watt and Braeden Allkins completing the early scoring outburst.
The lead was short-lived, however, as three unanswered goals from the Thunder Cats in the second half of the first period sent the team’s to the locker rooms all square. The team’s traded a pair of goals each throughout the second frame, with defencemen Brett DeFrias and Daniel Dahlin scoring the markers for the visitors, creating a 5-5 tie heading into the third. Allkins scored his second of the night just over eight minutes into the third for the Rockets, and it was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. DeFrias topped things off with an empty netter that made it 7-5 and the Rockets celebrated their first win since Oct. 25, also over the Thunder Cats, and their first road win since Sept. 27.
The Rockets will look to keep the momentum going this week with home games Wednesday and Friday night against the Fernie Ghostriders and the Kimberley Dynamiters.