Doan Smith blasts a shot from the slot during three-on-three overtime to give the Rockies a 6 – 5 win over the Golden Rockets

Rockies clinch playoffs after nail-biter versus Rockets

Doan Smith and the Rockies have taken Golden out of the picture, and are now taking on Creston Valley in the playoffs

Doan Smith and the Columbia Valley Rockies have taken Golden out of the picture, and are now setting their sights squarely on Creston Valley.

The Rockies’ 52-game season came down to the wire on Friday, February 21st as the Columbia Valley Rockies were in Golden to face the Rockets – with the winner taking the final playoff seed in the Eddie Mountain Division.

The first period came to an end with the Rockies holding a dominating lead. Smith, Ryan Lawson, and Matt Houston all scored, giving the Rockies a 3 – 0 lead. Assists went to Ryan Henderson, Zachary Schlitt, Braeden Farge, Mitch Rosko, and two to Tyson Kapty.

Golden wasn’t ready to see their season come to an end and managed to break the Rockies down in the second, scoring four unanswered goals to end the period with a 4 – 3 lead.

Rockies head coach Wade Dubielewicz said that in junior hockey, it’s normal to have a huge emotional swings in a game, leading to stirring comebacks.

Trailing midway through the third, a pass from Stephen Pratt allowed Smith to score his second of the game, which happened while the Rockies were on a penalty kill.

The Rockets deflated their excitement after scoring a minute later to regain the lead.

As Golden was trying to kill the clock, the Rockies were hungry for overtime.

It became crunch time, and Mr. Dubielewicz called a time out near the final two minutes.

“I was a little nervous and tense, but we’re really comfortable in that position,” he said.

The subsequent play saw Ryan Henderson make a strong drive to the net with a quick shot that tied the game, with Rosko and Kapty assisting on the play.

“You could run that play twenty times and only score just once,” said Mr. Dubielewicz. “We had a couple of the older guys step right up, and we got a goal and sent it into overtime like we needed to do.”

The Golden Arena was tense as the game headed into overtime.

Both teams exchanged chances during five minutes of four-on-four play, but the first period of overtime ended with no conclusion.

In the second period of extra play, Smith was on the ice with Rosko and Kirk Lissel, when a similar play to Henderson’s game-tying goal allowed Smith a clear shot on net, which beat the goalie through the five-hole, giving Doan a hat-trick on the night and allowing the Rockies to clinch a playoff spot. Stewart Pratt made 30 saves on the night.

“We’re happy that Doan had a huge game; we need our top players to step up in those situations, and Doan’s one of our better players,” said Mr. Dubielewicz.

Had the Rockies lost on Friday, it would have still been possible to make the playoffs if they defeated the division-leading Creston Valley Thunder Cats, who they took on Saturday, February 22nd. The Rockies suffered a 4-1 loss in that game, but will get a chance for revenge as they will now face Creston Valley in the first round of the playoffs.