In what has been a tough season for the Columbia Valley Rockies so far, coach Marc Ward has stressed the same message all year: “play within our system.” On Friday, October 21 the Rockies did exactly that, and came away with their first victory of the season, winning 7-4 against the Grand Fork Border Bruins.
“The (atmosphere) was pretty good after the game, the team was excited to win,” Ward said. “The boys worked hard and they really deserved this win.”
The Rockies opened the scoring in the first period with a power-play goal by Ryan Henderson, before the Bruins answered with a power-play goal of their own with less than two minutes remaining in the period.
This set the stage for a tense second period that saw both teams hold the lead at one point. Tyler Reay scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season less than a minute into the period to make the score 2-1 before the Bruins put in two of their own to take the lead late. The Bruins, who were also looking for their first win of the season, nevertheless let Rockies defenceman Spencer Johnston tie the score with an unassisted marker before the end of the second period to make the score 3-3 with only one period remaining.
Things were no doubt taut heading into the third, but the Rockies blew it wide open when Reay scored his second of the night less than a minute in and then assisted on another power-play goal by Ryan Henderson less than three minutes later. The Bruins managed to muster up one more goal to make things interesting, but the Rockies put it away with two late goals to seal the victory.
“I think our guys now realize that if we play the right way, within our system, we can win hockey games,” Ward said.
The win improved the Rockies record to 1-12-0-1 in a game that saw 10 different Rockies players record points. Goalie Bruce Corrigal recorded 34 saves in the victory, and Rockies forward Jayson Cannell was named first star of the game with three points, and at that point had recorded five points in four games with the club.
The Rockies continued their three-game road trip by visiting the league’s second place team in the Nelson Leafs the next night. Despite riding a high from their win the night before, the Rockies ended up losing by a score of 7-2.
Rockies forward Jayson Cannell continued his hot start by adding another goal in the loss, but in the end the high-powered Leafs offence buried the Rockies, out-shooting them 38-17. The Rockies were also missing a defenceman due to suspension, and only dressed five d-men for the game.
Leafs forward Patrick Martens recorded a goal and an assist for the Leafs, adding to his league-leading totals of 20 goals and 33 points for the season.
The Rockies finished their road trip with a visit to another tough arena when they played the Castlegar Rebels on October 23. The Rockies ended up being out shot 46-16 while allowing two power-play goals in an 8-0 loss. The Rockies record now stands at 1-14-0-1 following their three-game road trip.
“The team still needs more guys,” Ward said. “We need more skilled scoring, and we need to get tougher on defence. We have to make it harder on the opposition.”
Next on the docket is a game against the very same Castlegar Rebels, but this time at home, at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena Friday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m.