The Columbia Valley Rockies will be heading to the playoffs for the first time in five years despite losing two games in a row over the weekend and only banking three points from the last three games.
The news broke late Sunday (February 10) night when the Creston Valley Thunder Cats lost to the Fernie Ghostriders, making it mathematically impossible for Creston to catch the Rockies in the standings.
Last week, the Rockies beat the Thunder Cats in Creston on Tuesday, February 5, scoring four unanswered goals in the third period to make a dramatic comeback, with a final score of 7-4 in favour of the Rockies.
Then, on Friday, February 8, the Rockies lost a tough one against the Fernie Ghostriders, 7-2. Explaining the loss, coach Scott Dubielewicz said the players just weren’t in the game mentally after such a dramatic win earlier in the week.
“We were suffering a bit of a hangover from Tuesday; we just didn’t really show up against Fernie,” Dubielewicz said.
The Rockies then faced the Osoyoos Coyotes at home on Saturday (February 9), and although they played much better, they let in a buzzer beater goal to send the game into overtime and ultimately lost in OT, gaining one point in their hunt for a playoff spot.
“We had some key guys take some bad penalties and got tossed out of the game, which didn’t help our chances,” Dubielewicz said. “We definitely spent too much time in the box.”
In spite of the loss, goaltender Stewart Pratt was named the first star of the game, and was also mentioned by Dubielewicz as a player who put in a strong performance, facing 52 shots from the Coyotes.
Both Dylan Sakatch and Briar McNaney registered two assists each to help their team, but penalty trouble for the Rockies kept letting Osoyoos back in the game.
“Going forward we just need to focus on Friday night against Penticton. They just beat Osoyoos so they are not a bad team. We just want to stay healthy and play as hard as we can in these remaining games,” Dubielewicz said.
The Rockies have three games left in the regular season, including one more meeting with Creston and another visit to Fernie who they just might end up facing in the first round of the playoffs, depending on how the final point tally settles out.
As it stands now, it looks like the Columbia Valley Rockies will be facing either the Fernie Ghostriders or the Golden Rockets in the first round, which will be a real treat for local hockey fans in the valley. For the first time in half a decade, the boys are back in the playoffs.