A key win over division-leading Fernie highlighted the weekend for the Golden Rockets, who also won a close game over the North Okanagan Knights before losing in overtime to the Columbia Valley Rockies on Sunday afternoon.
The Ghostriders have run over the rest of the KIJHL this year. Their only major blemish being a trio of losses at the hands of the Golden Rockets, including Friday’s 3-2 Golden triumph.
“I think we match up well against them and I think we’re motivated. I know a lot of our guys know a lot of their players, so maybe it’s the motivation of playing against a buddy…we seem to play good games against them. It’s nice,” said head coach Ty Davidson.
Cole Mckechney was the hero with a late power play goal that was the difference in a hotly contested matchup between two teams that don’t appear to like each other very much.
With the Rockets a man up and the score tied 2-2, Tanner Watt made a brilliant pass to find a waiting Mckechney alone in front of the Fernie net.
“You want to get rid of it pretty quick but not too quick, you want to make sure you get a good shot away especially late in the game,” Mckechney said.
Patiently waiting for Riders goalie Jeff Orser to make the first move, Mckechney allowed the netminder to slide too far to his right and found an opening on the far side. It was a great display from the centreman, who has been much more of a playmaker than goal scorer as the Rockets’ assist leader.
“I haven’t scored one in a while so it feels good,” he said, grinning from ear to ear.
The following night the Rockets were matched up against the North Okanagan Knights, owners of the league’s worst record. On paper, it looked like it should be a straightforward contest, but credit the Knights for giving Golden all it could handle. The Rockets, however, eventually prevailed 4-3.
“I love the fact that we never quit, and we always come from behind but at some point we have to put 60 minute efforts together,” said Rockets coach Ty Davidson.
“No disrespect to North Okanagan, but they’re not one of the better teams in the league. They’ve struggled right from the get go, and that’s a team that we should have an easy night off (against) to be honest.”
Okanagan actually took a 3-2 lead early in the third, which seemed to wake the Rockets from their Saturday night slumber.
It was Mckechney who knotted things up after picking up an errant Knights’ pass to give himself a breakaway. He faked left before firing it home near-side.
Later, with Braeden Allkins parked in front of the net, Brennan Fuoco fired a shot through traffic which Allkins expertly tipped home for the lead.
Finally, on Sunday in Invermere, the Rockets found themselves trailing by a goal in the dying seconds of the third period. Once again, the team didn’t quit and fought back.
Tanner Watt was the player who stepped up with a rebound goal in the dying seconds of the third, sending the game to OT.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, Rockies forward Dondre Watson scored the winner early into the second OT period to give Columbia Valley a dramatic win. The Rockets took home a point for the OT loss, giving them five of a possible six over the weekend.
Their 27 points are good enough for second in the Eddie Mountain Division, although they sit just one point clear of both Kimberley and Creston Valley.
Magnus Viberg got the start in all three games over the weekend after backup Mitchell Privett decided to leave the team and move back home to California. Having played three games in the span of less than 72 hours, Viberg was a little worn out by Sunday according to Davidson. Relief is on the way, however, as the club has acquired Mark Becica from the Revelstoke Grizzlies for future considerations. Viberg will remain the starter, but Becica should give the club a solid second option.
The Californian has a 2.98 Goals Against Average in 13 games played for the Grizzlies this season.
The Rockets will be back on home ice for a set of games this weekend, beginning Friday night against the Kimberley Dynamiters.