Rollercoaster win for the Senior Rockets

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by Murray Link

In a potential first round playoff preview, the North Dundas Senior Rockets needed a full 60 minutes of play to overtake the South Grenville Rangers 7-6 on Saturday, February 3rd. In front of a packed house, the league leading Rockets (18-1) took on the fourth place South Grenville Rangers (9-9) in a Rollercoaster game which saw lead changes throughout the entire game.   

The first period saw two quick goals by Mike Byrd and Brad Stitt to put the home team up 2-0. Broydon Stufko responded mid-way through the game to bring the Rangers within one. Shots on goal after the first were 19-6 and it looked as if the Rockets were in control. 

The second period looked much the same as the first as veteran forward Todd Marcellus netted a power play goal early with assists going to defenseman Shawn Moors and forward Ryan Lough. Lough wasn’t done putting his name on the score sheet as he ripped one past the goalie mid way into the second period making it a 4-1 game at the halfway point. 

In the latter part of the second period and into the third, the Rockets found themselves in penalty trouble and the Rangers responded big with 5 unanswered goals to put the visiting team up 6-4 with 9 minutes remaining in the game. When asked about the onslaught of Rangers goals, the Rockets head coach responded “I think it was a case of the dreaded 3 goal lead”. In hockey, a 3 goal lead is considered the most dangerous because at that point, player mindset becomes relaxed and they play a different style of game. “I think our guys took the lead for granted and didn’t take the play to them and ultimately paid the price,” the coach added. 

Down by two goals in the later stages of the game, the two time defending EOSHL champions found themselves in uncharted territory having to try to come back from a two goal deficit. Things didn’t look good as Ryan Lough’s name graced the score sheet again, but this time taking a hooking penalty at the 9:45 mark. In a turn of fate, Chris Kushneriuk scored short-handed while killing Lough’s penalty and made it a 6-5 game. It was at that point that the crowd started cheering non stop during play and the momentum seemed to be in the Rockets favour. With an offensive blitz during the last five minutes of play, the home team were bailed out by newcomer Marc-Andre Labelle, who scored his first goal in the cream and red jersey to tie the game up with 2:22 minutes remaining on the clock. 

Labelle, who is a two time EOSHL MVP, was added to the Rockets roster at the trade deadline and is certainly earning his keep. With the game tied 6-6, the crowd were still on their feet anticipating overtime, until Rockets captain and Chesterville native, Derek Froats blasted past the Rangers defense in a last ditch attempt to win the game and snuck the puck by the goaltender to score the game winning goal with 1:37 remaining on the clock. “I thought the roof was going to come off of the barn,” exclaimed Froats. “The fans in Chesterville are the best in the league.”

With the win, the Rockets remain first in the East division with a 19-1 record with one game remaining in the regular season. The last game of the season is scheduled for Saturday February 10 at 7:00 pm vs the Glengary Pipers. The question is, North Dundas: ARE YOU GOING TO THE GAME?

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