The Golden Rockets had plenty of scoring chances across both of their games this weekend, but in the end they managed just a pair of goals in two losses.
After a 5-1 road loss in Creston on Friday, the Rockets went down by a 4-1 count at home against Fernie a night later.
Both games could have been closer contests if the Rockets were able to bury a few of their numerous opportunities.
“Snakebit is a good word I guess, offensively challenged would be the other. It would be nice to get some of those pucks in the net for sure, we just don’t seem to be getting the bounces,” said head coach Jason Stephens.
“I gotta give these guys credit…the team isn’t giving up. The boys are working hard.”
Against Fernie, Terix Fischer-Kobes opened the scoring for the Rockets with 8:51 remaining in the first, but the Rockets couldn’t escape the period with the lead, as Zach Befus notched a power play goal late in the period.
A skirmish at the end of the frame had one casualty, as Ghostriders star Cole Keebler left with an unspecified injury. This riled up Fernie and their head coach Craig Mohr and led to a chippy second period and a parade to the penalty box for both clubs.
The Rockets had the better of the play in the second period, outshooting their division rivals 15-9 and testing Ghostriders goaltender Jeff Orser on numerous occasions. Time and again they failed to finish their opportunities, however, and the teams remained tied at the end of the period.
That’s when Mohr engaged in some verbal jousting with Rockets captain Travis Kelley. Both were given unsportsmanlike penalties, but when Mohr continued to argue his point with referee Brent Hazel, he was ejected from the game.
“It doesn’t matter to me, he can do that all he wants. I’m not here to chirp players on the other team, we’re here to coach our kids,” Stephens said.
The Rockets outshot Fernie 10-6 in the third period, but again they failed to break the Orser wall. The Riders finally got their high-powered offense on track, as Travis Thomsen and Keegan Kingwell both notched power play goals to give them a commanding 3-1 lead late in the period. Kingwell added an empty netter to complete the scoring.
Assisting on the Rockets’ lone goal was Stephen Gaughran, a North Carolina native who played his first two games with the Rockets this weekend, which also happened to be his first two games of junior hockey.
A big, quick defenceman with a booming shot from the point, the American has jumped right into an important role on the Rockets’ blue line.
“It’s definitely a lot faster so it’s an adjustment thing,” Gaughran said.
Gaughran added that he sees himself as an offensive defenceman, a dynamic that has been tough to come by for the Rockets throughout much of the season.
“I’ve only been here for one practice, so working on the power play that will definitely help,” he said.
The Rockets have yet to win in 2016 and have lost 10 straight dating back to Dec. 11. They’ll look to get back in the win column this weekend when they host the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Friday and the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Saturday.