Home ice didn’t give the Rockies much of an advantage this weekend, as they managed to earn only one of a possible six points.
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, teams from Creston Valley, Castlegar, and Nelson were in Columbia Valley. As it currently stands in the Eddie Mountain Division of the KIJHL, the fourth-place Rockies and division-leading Thunder Cats would be aligned to compete in the first round of the playoffs.
The first half of Friday’s opening period against Creston Valley was a scoreless tie. But it wasn’t long after the 10-minute mark when the Thunder Cats took control of the game, scoring two power play goals less than 90 seconds apart. Another goal in the final minute gave the Thunder Cats a 3 – 0 lead to finish the first period.
Creston Valley’s lead became insurmountable after the second, when the visiting team netted another two goals near the midway point of the period.
But the Thunder Cats weren’t able to shut out the Rockies, as Jerome Thorne scored after 10 minutes of play in the third with help from captain Bradly Palumbo.
Two more Creston Valley goals put the Thunder Cats ahead by six, ending the game with a score of 7 – 1. Rockies goaltender Brody Nelson stopped 29 shots from the Thunder Cats.
Castlegar was in Invermere the next night for another Rockies home game.
A high-sticking call against Ryan Henderson put the Rockies down a man midway through the first, allowing the Rebels to score the lone first period goal on the power play.
The next twenty minutes were much more favourable for the Rockies. Mitch Rosko and Damon Raven set up Dustin Boone to tie the game, before Stephen Pratt scored to give Columbia Valley the lead with help from Adam Pulliam and Mitch Rosko. Racey Big Snake then made it 3 – 1 for the Rockies after passes from Braeden Farge and Damon Raven.
The Rebels were able to cut the Rockies lead in half with a goal halfway through the third, leading to a tense final minute.
Castlegar managed to tie the game at 3 with a goal in the final 11 second, forcing an overtime period.
During the first overtime period of four-on-four play, Castlegar was able to secure the extra point when Rebel Jeremy MacNeil scored at 3:30.
Goaltender Stewart Pratt blocked 62 of Castlegar’s shots. Despite the 40 penalty minutes handed out to the two teams, all but one goal in the game was scored at even strength.
Stewart Pratt started again on Sunday against the Nelson Leafs, but was pulled after just over five minutes and allowing two goals on five shots.
The Leafs ended the first period with a 3 – 0 lead, after scoring a late-period shorthanded goal in addition to the two quickies.
Nelson made the game 4 – 0 after opening scoring again in the second, but the Rockies were ready to retaliate. Braeden Farge put the Rockies on the board with assists to Tyson Kapty and Mitch Rosko, before Peter Matthews made the score 4 – 2 with help from Mitch Rosko and Racey Big Snake.
The Leafs scored a fifth goal halfway through the second, but saw their lead reduced again to two after Logan Kerner scored for the Rockies third tally of the night.
Adam Pulliam set up Ryan Henderson on the power play early in the third to make the score 5 – 4 with more than 15 minutes remaining.
After killing off a minor penalty and game misconduct against Jerome Thorne late in the third, the Rockies needed to even the score, but suffered an insurance goal against in the final 61 seconds. The game ended with a score of 6 – 4 Nelson.
Goaltender Brody Nelson stopped 33 shots for the Rockies.
The Rockies next game is on Friday, when Creston Valley is in Invermere again for a rematch of last Friday.
After this weekend’s action, the Rockies sit at 29 points, still seven ahead of the Golden Rockets, who occupy last place in the Eddie Mountain division.
The Rockies now have a record of 11 wins, 25 losses, and three ties, with the regular season concluding at the end of February.
Coach Wade Dubielewicz was not available to comment after Sunday night’s game.