Sometimes in life, you don’t always get what you deserve. For the Columbia Valley Rockies, they learned this lesson the hard way Saturday night as they lost to the Spokane Braves in a tightly fought game 6-5.
After having the week off to recover from back-to-back losses to Creston and Grand Forks, the Columbia Valley Rockies returned home to the Eddie to face the Spokane Braves — the two teams’ first meeting of the season.
Right out of the gate, the Rockies’ time off worked in their favour as they stormed the Braves’ offensive zone, pounding their goaltender with 19 shots in the opening frame. Despite the Braves owning a 2-1 lead to end the first period, the Rockies were dominating the play.
It took one more Braves goal before the Rockies’ offence awoke and succeeded. First, it was Tyler Bordt on a crisp saucer pass from Carter Beston-Will to narrow the lead to 3-2. Then 63 seconds later, it was Riley Knott who tied the game at 3-3 for the Rockies. Bordt tallied another of his own later in the period to take the Rockies’ first lead of the game, which was short lived thanks to a Spokane goal to close out the second period.
Unfortunately for the Rockies, when they returned from the dressing room to start the third period, their previous dominance faded like puddle on a warm summer day. While the two teams traded goals to make it 5-5, the Braves controlled the bulk of the play in the third frame, outshooting the Rockies 17-11 in the period.
Heading into the final minutes, it appeared overtime would be needed. That was until referee Barry Kennedy called a crosschecking penalty on Cooper Krauss with only minutes remaining. It was a call that Rockies’ coach Wade Dubielewicz was surprised by, he said.
“I think that play probably happened six or seven times right before,” he said. “How do you tell your guys to not play a hard game because that area in front of the net is where you do get away with a lot of things so it’s just disappointing to me that he [the referee] decided to make that call because it happened five to 10 times before that.”
The Braves Mason Jones made the Rockies pay for the mistake, scoring on the powerplay, to make it 6-5. While the Rockies fought hard in the closing moments of the game with the goalie pulled, hitting a crossbar with less than a minute remaining, their effort would be to no avail as they fell by a final score of 6-5.
“I’m happy we carried the play,” said Dubielewicz. “I’m happy with a lot of the things that we worked on in practice that we’re seeing, but we have to find a way to win that game regardless.”
Outshooting the Braves 54-42 on the night, Dubielewicz said it’s only a matter of time before his offence starts clicking and scoring goals in bunches.
“I think we have the ability to be offensive, I really do and I think we’re going to see that as the season continues,” he said, noting that it was little mistakes such as offensive unawareness and being too aggressive that cost them several goals.
“Those little things will kill you all year long and I think we got harder to play against this week in practice but I think the focus now has to go to understanding the little areas of the ice that have to be taken care of because that’s the difference between winning and losing.”
The Rockies will go on the road this weekend hoping to redeem themselves in Spokane Friday night against the Braves before facing the first place Grand Forks Border Bruins on Saturday night.