After a perfect start to their season, the Rockies appear to have lost a little bit of momentum, losing three of four games in what proved to be a whirlwind week.
“I think it was that our consistency wasn’t there, we know we can score goals,” said assistant coach Jan Kascak. “Any team can beat any team on any given night, it’s just that type of year.”
After consecutive wins over Golden to open the season, the Rockies first faced the Kimberley Dynamiters on Tuesday, September 18 in a battle of division foes on home ice. The Rockies led for much of the game on a first period goal by rookie forward Racey Red Crow, and after a scoreless second period the two teams exploded to combine for five goals in the final frame, sending the game to overtime with the score all knotted up at three apiece. This set up a tense overtime frame where each team was only able to manage one shot and unfortunately, the one Kimberley shot was enough to win them the game. Kimberley forward Jared Marchi managed to get one by Rockies goalie Stewart Pratt with three minutes remaining, handing the Rockies their first loss of the season. Rockies forward Ryan Henderson, who by press deadline on Monday (September 24) sat third in the KIJHL in scoring with five goals and three assists over six games, managed a goal in the loss.
“It’s just about who comes out and makes the least mistakes,” Kascak said. “We’ve got lots of work to do and we know that.”
Next up for the Rockies was a visit to Summerland, for a rare matchup with the Summerland Steam on Friday, September 21. In what was a largely forgettable night for Rockies faithful, a three-goal first period deficit turn into a 6-1 edge for Summerland after two periods of play, a gap that proved insurmountable for the Rockies as they fell by a score of 8-3. Rockies goalie Scott Legault was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 14 shots, and his replacement Brody Nelson didn’t fare much better, allowing the final five goals in the loss.
“We were in the game, but it comes down to execution,” Kascak said. “We have to be consistent in our execution and we didn’t do that in Summerland.”
The Rockies played their third consecutive game on the road against the Kelowna Chiefs the very next night, Saturday, September 22, and managed to squeak out a 3-2 victory on the back of goaltender and Invermere native Brody Nelson. Nelson made 44 saves and was instrumental in killing off five Chiefs powerplays as the Rockies were outshot 48 to 27 in the game. Rockies rookie Jerome Thorne scored the game-winner, a second period marker with assists by Nolan Dyck and Kellen Marchand as the Rockies did not allow a third period goal to preserve the victory and remain atop the KIJHL standings.
“It was a team effort, and I thought (goaltender Brody Nelson) played a heck of a game,” Kascak said. “He played well, but I thought everybody played well, we were getting pucks deep, playing good positional hockey and doing the little things right, and we got rewarded for it.”
Finally, the Rockies played one final game this past week, as they faced the Penticton Lakers on Sunday (September 23) for their third game in as many nights. The Rockies actually outshot the Lakers 44 to 28, but exceptional goaltending from Lakers netminder Stephen Yesavage stoned the Rockies time and time again en route to 5-1 loss for the Rockies. Josh Haley scored the lone goal for the Rockies late in the third period. With the loss, the team dropped to 3-2-0-1 through six games.
“We outshot Penticton, but we were snakebitten… we just couldn’t put the puck in the net,” Kascak said.
Coming up next for the Rockies is a trip to Creston to take on the Thunder Cats on September 28, followed by a visit to Golden the next night. The Rockies don’t play at home again until Saturday, October 13 when they host the Fernie Ghostriders.