The Rockets have big expectations for this season after winning two playoff rounds last year, their best performance in franchise history.
After a pair of losses to open the season, it is safe to say that there is still plenty of work to be done. A crowd of 321 at the Golden Arena saw the team draw first blood against the 100 Mile House Wranglers before surrendering four unanswered goals in the second period. A late charge saw the Rockets narrow the deficit to 1 goal but that was as far as the comeback would take them in the 5-4 defeat.
Undisciplined play led to the breakdown in the first half of the second period as a parade to the penalty box saw the visitors capitalize for three power play goals on their way to a 4-1 lead. Cole Mckechney scored a power play goal with a little over four minutes left in the period to give the home side some life.
The Wranglers gave themselves some more breathing room five minutes into the third with a goal from 17 year old Lane van de Wetering, but the Rockets quickly responded with a pair of power player markers from veteran defencemen Coltin Berard and Matt McMath. Golden outshot the Wranglers 13-6 in the final frame (41-27 for the game) but it wasn’t enough to record the tying goal.
Golden native Adam Johnson was the surprise starter for the Rockets and stopped 22 of the 27 shots he faced from a hardworking Wranglers team that is short on experience as an expansion team this season. Brian Parsons, a California native, was out with an undisclosed injury and will have to wait to make his KIJHL debut.
“It’s the home opener…we have a lot to work on, but at the end of the day we are here to win a championship, not the first game of the year,” said Rockets’ head coach Ty Davidson after the opening night loss.
Saturday night saw the Rockets take 10 penalties and give up another four power play goals in a 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Kimberley Dynamiters, a team that Golden beat in 4 straight games in the playoffs last season. Golden couldn’t find a way to beat Dyanmiters goaltender Jeremy Mousseau despite seven power play opportunities of their own.
Slow starts are nothing new for the Rockets. Last year the team lost their opening three games before roaring back with three straight wins. Their campaign will continue Wednesday when they play host to the Columbia Valley Rockies at 7:30 p.m.
The Creston Valley Thunder Cats come to town on Friday night before the Rockets make the trip down to Invermere for another tilt against the Rockies on Saturday.