Though the Columbia Valley Rockies faced the Golden Rockets in both of their first two regular season outings, fans were treated to two very different games as the KIJHL season got underway last Friday and Saturday.
The first game of the season in Golden saw the Rockies lose 2-1 in a tightly fought game decided in the last seven minutes of play.
Saturday night’s home opener at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena, meanwhile, saw the team struggle out of the gate, deflecting a puck into their own net 16 seconds into play and eventually posting a 9-1 loss.
“It was the compete level, the level of compete, definitely,” says Rockies head coach Marc Ward. “We had a fire in our belly in Golden. We came out flat [Saturday].”
Friday night’s game saw the Rockies pick up the first goal of the evening late in the second period thanks to Invermere native Reto Stiz. Golden answered back 12 seconds into the third period, then notched the final game winner with six and a half minutes left on the clock. Though the Rockets outshot the Rockies 38 to 16, Ward says “excellent” goaltending from returning goaltender Bruce Corrigal kept the score low.
Saturday night saw the Golden take advantage of the Rockies’ lack of momentum. After the early deflection, the Rockets added three more points to the score in the first, two in the second, and another three in the third.
Stiz gave the Rockies their only goal of the night with three minutes left in the first period, but the team struggled to find scoring chances for much of the game.
“I think not enough guys on our bench were willing to take hits and make hits. We got outworked,” says Ward.
The Rockies take a break from Golden next week, with back-to-back home games against the North Okanagan Knights and the Creston Valley Thundercats, followed by an away game against the Sicamous Eagles.