The Golden Rockets are nine games into their 2015/16 season and remain in search of their first victory after a winless weekend saw them fall further behind their Eddie Mountain Division rivals.
It appeared as though the club was close to an elusive breakthrough on numerous occasions over the weekend, but each time their opponents had a swift and decisive response.
On Friday in Nelson the Rockets held a brief 2-1 lead towards the end of the second period before the Leafs tied things up before the end of the period. The Leafs dominated the third period, scoring seven goals and outshooting Golden by a whopping 23-3 margin to eventually cruise to a 9-3 win.
On Saturday, Golden managed one better in the early going against Fernie, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in front of their home fans at the Golden Arena. That lead evaporated in a disheartening second period that saw the Ghostriders score six on their way to a 7-2 win.
The Rockets got down by a 4-1 count by the midway point of their game against Fernie on Sunday, but managed to claw back to within a goal before the end of the second period.
The Ghostriders, however, put Golden away in the third for a 7-3 final.
For Rockets head coach Jason Stephens, it all comes down to solid 60-minute efforts.
“We seem to have this thing going right now where we’re not playing 60 minutes of hockey. I’m trying to get the guys to just play a full 60 minutes. We go through this phase where we sort of let up and teams sort of bury us in a 10 minute period of time…it’s just a killer,” Stephens said.
The lack of a win this season continues to plague the Rockets, but Stephens is pleased with his team’s attitude, with his young group continuing to work hard in practice despite the massive hole they find themselves in.
“One thing I have to give this team credit for is the boys aren’t giving up. Even when they have that down period they seem to rebound with a strong period,” Stephens said.
Injuries have troubled the Rockets for much of the year, but the club could see some relief this week with as many as four players returning to the ice.
While the Rockets have allowed a league-high 54 goals this season, Stephens is hesitant to place the blame on his netminders, although he acknowledges that there is room for improvement in goal as well. With that in mind, Invermere native Brody Nelson was brought into the fold this week from the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
Nelson spent time as a backup with the Kimberley Dynamiters a season ago and brings three years of KIJHL experience into the mix. One of the Rockets’ three other goaltenders is expected to be moved this week in a corresponding move.
That trade comes a week after the Rockets moved captain Ian Desrosier to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.
“He just felt he wanted to make a change, he wanted something different for his (last year),” Stephens said.
Tanner Witt was named Desrosier’s replacement as captain.
“Tanner is an incredible captain, he’s one of the better captains I’ve seen in my time as a coach. He really tries to bring the guys together. He’s great in the dressing room and his work ethic is outstanding on the ice,” Stephens said.
The road ahead won’t get any easier for the Rockets this week, as they’ll battle the first place Dynamiters in a home and home series, with Saturday’s contest slated for Golden.
The Dynamiters have beaten the Rockets twice already this season by 6-2 and 5-3 scores.