In a new year with new opportunities for a fresh start, the Columbia Valley Rockies have largely remained the same, embarking on a three-game losing streak that was earmarked with an embarrassing 11-2 loss to the Kimberley Dynamiters last Saturday evening at the Eddie Memorial Arena.
“You see a solid first 20, and they come out and get two quick ones and the kids are a little bit deflated from that point,” head scout Scott Dubielewicz said. “We don’t score goals at will and between the officiating and Kimberley, their foot was on our throat, both of them, so it’s hard to battle back from that.”
It was those two quick Kimberley goals to start the second period that made what was a competitive game of hockey quickly transform into a one-sided game of shinny for 40 grueling minutes. The Dynamiters would command a 6-2 lead heading into the third period before adding another five goals to take the game by a final score of 11-2.
Although the Dynamiters defeated the Rockies by nine goals, Dubielewicz was quick to point out the team’s unhappiness with the way referee Chris Mottl officiated the game.
“You just have to take it on the chin, it’s really frustrating when you have to battle the opposition and the official,” he said. “Kimberley really didn’t need any help to win that game, they probably would have won the game regardless but it’s like the official had to put his own stamp on it somehow against us and I don’t know what his angle is for his partisanship but it was evident.”
In total, the Dynamiters were awarded 10 power-plays during the game compared to the Rockies two, which had head coach Wade Dubielewicz in obvious anger with the officials throughout much of the third period when the Rockies received the bulk of their penalties.
“I can’t tell you exactly the shots but for us overall to put up 30 shots where we spend over a full period in the penalty box, their power-play would have worn down our penalty killers so once we had to keep sticking them out there again and again, those kids get tired and then their ability to compete gets less and less,” Scott said.
As bad as Saturday night was, the Rockies can take some solace in a stronger effort the night before in a much closer loss to the Fernie Ghostriders 3-1 at the Eddie. The Rockies actually managed to get out in front of the visiting Ghostriders on Friday, thanks to a goal from Chase Hawkins but were overcome by a Fernie team that was short-staffed with 14 skaters. Scott said that the effort was definitely there to have taken two points from Fernie and was impressed by the work ethic of goaltender Ben Kelsch.
Including Friday night’s action, Kelsch had been the Rockies starting goaltender for the past five games due to goaltender Will McCreight dealing with an injured foot sustained in early December.
“Ben’s been playing very strong so we’re very happy with his play,” Scott said. “What I like is that he’s a solid goaltender but it’s his compete level that I’ve noticed the most. Whenever there is a play or a loose rebound or whatever, he just does not quit battling and trying to get himself in a good position to make the next save if there is that opportunity for the opposition.”
Since coming to the Rockies, Kelsch has recorded a 2-3 win-loss record to go with an impressive 3.00 goals against average and .922 save percentage—all season highs for the 18-year-old net minder.
With only 13 games remaining in the Rockies season and five points separating them from the last place Golden Rockets, Dubielewicz said the team is focussed on only themselves and playing Rockies’ hockey in order to win the final playoff spot.
“The kids have to come to the rink everyday and give it their best and the coaching staff has to have them as prepared as possible and that’s it, you just have to look at the next game,” he said. “There’s some special teams we can improve on but the most important thing is to maintain our work ethic and make sure that’s high and the kids commitment to one another while holding each other accountable to be at the rink everyday and play hockey.”
The Rockies will travel to Creston Friday evening to face the top-seeded Thunder Cats before travelling to Golden Saturday evening to face Golden in one of the three remaining games between the two clubs this season.