The NHL may be back on, but the hockey excitement in the Columbia Valley is all about hometown Junior B team, the Columbia Valley Rockies, as they sit on the cusp of a playoff spot for the first time in years.
“Right now we’re there but we need a better effort from the players to stay there for sure,” said Ross Bidinger, GM of the Rockies. “The goal is to get into the playoffs for sure, and we think we can win our division. But the players just need to want it.”
The Rockies came away from a game against the Kimberley Dynamiters on Friday, January 25th with only one point for forcing the game into overtime. The Rockies got off to a slow start, said Bidinger, at one point trailing 4-1 near the end of the second period.
Jake Fardoe scored the first of his two goals that game with 36 seconds left in the second period, and the Rockies scored two more unanswered goals in the third to force overtime. Fardoe’s two goals now bring him to third place on the team in points, which is a huge achievement for the offensive defenceman.
The Dynamiters’ Eric Buckley scored the overtime winner, earning him the first star of the game. Dynamiters’ Dylan Sibbald and the Rockies’ Jake Fardoe were second and third star respectively.
The single point finds the Rockies one point behind the Creston Valley Thunder Cats and the coveted playoff spot, but Bidinger thinks the team has what it takes to make a run and succeed, as long as the team keeps up their competitive levels.
“For some of the players success might mean just being where we are right now, when comparing us to last year’s team, but we need to get them prepared for the last eight games,” he said.
The goal for this weekend, which sees the Rockies playing two tough customers — the Castlegar Rebels on Friday and the Spokane Braves on Saturday — is to get at least two of four possible points, if not all four. Both games are at home.
Two of the team’s last eight games will be against the Thunder Cats, which includes their last home game of the regular season occurring on Saturday, February 16.
Bidinger said he hopes to see the arena packed with fans, as their energy really helps the team as they try to extend their season for the first time in recent memory.
“It all boils down to how the players perform. We are holding all the cards so we need to win as many games as Creston does to get in. The more the fans get into the game, the more we feel it on the ice,” Bidinger said.