A year of frustration had a fitting home finale for the Rockets with another disallowed goal and another defeat, this time by a 4-1 score to the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
During the second period of Wednesday night’s home loss, and with the game still scoreless, the Rockets appeared to draw first blood. Their celebration was short lived, however, as it was ruled by the officiating crew that a Rockets forward had knocked the puck in with a high stick.
Rockets head coach Jason Stephens didn’t see it that way and he said he has felt his team has been on the receiving end of several calls from referee Monty Taylor in the past.
“I don’t know what it is, but this referee here, that’s the fifth goal that he’s called off in this barn that I’ve disagreed with. From our angle it looked like it was below the crossbar where the contact was made,” Stephens said.
“I get waved off goals from time to time, it’s just frustrating when you can openly disagree at times and there’s not even a conversation about it…You try and hold the referees accountable, but nobody ever does.”
To make matters worse, the Grizzlies responded immediately after play resumed, drawing first blood on a goal from Brady Mende. They added another against rookie goaltender Owen Sikkes late in the period to give themselves a two-goal cushion heading into the third.
Earlier in the frame, the Rockets had a glorious opportunity to get on the board when the Grizzlies took a four minute high sticking penalty as well as a two minute cross checking penalty to put themselves down by two men for a full two minutes. Unfortunately for the home crowd of 180, the power play disappointed, as it often has this season.
The Rockets finally broke through halfway through the third period when Darion Nordick stole the puck and sent Ryder Prue in alone on Revelstoke goaltender Aidan Doak. Prue smoothly deked to his backhand and went shelf for a highlight reel goal.
Kyle Berry and Ryan Hozjan eliminated any comeback thoughts the Rockets might have had with a pair of late third period goals, completing the scoring in the 4-1 Revelstoke win.
Playing ahead of regular starter Brody Nelson, Sikkes stopped 30 of 34 shots in a losing cause.
Sikkes, along with fellow 17 year-old goaltender Keyon Bittner, could expect to see plenty of action down the stretch as the Rockets groom their young goaltenders for the future.
“It’s good to see the young guys get some time as well…not that we’ve given up by any means but you have to give these other goalies some minutes,” Stephens said.
With the Jan. 10 trade deadline looming, Stephens also admitted that there might be a few veteran Rockets on the move. Golden is well out of playoff contention and it will likely opt to get something for its veteran players that won’t be returning next season.
“We’re looking at a couple of things we might do here down the stretch…I think there’s an opportunity for a couple veteran players, we’ve had a phone call from a couple teams,” Stephens said.
The Rockets will pay the Grizzlies a New Year’s Eve visit tonight as both clubs close the book on 2015.
They’ll open 2016 with a road date against the Columbia Valley Rockies. Their next home game will be Jan. 8 when they host division-leading Kimberley.