The Rockets’ Launch Pad
by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets General Manager
The Rockets opened the weekend with a big come from behind win at home Saturday night against the Rockland Nationals. It was a great way to kick off the weekend as we are trailing Rockland in the standings with games in hand. The team welcomed back Chris Marchand from a worked-related stretch of absence and the impact was immediate. Marchand recorded a hat trick Saturday night including the game winner. Chris is a valuable part of our offense and a premier scorer in this league when in the lineup.
We also welcomed the services of former Casselman Viking and Char-Lan Rebel Landon Veenstra who scored the game tying goal late in the third period Saturday night. Veenstra brings grit, effort and talent up front to our lineup. We are becoming a very deep hockey club up front and are hoping that it will prove difficult to play against us come playoff time.
Sunday afternoon we travelled to Gatineau to face the Volants, and to say the least, the game did not turn out the way we were hoping. The officiating set the tone early, assessing us three marginal penalties in the first that saw Gatineau go up 2 to 1. From that period on we looked flat and disinterested, the ultimate result being a 7 to 2 loss. One bright spot was the work ethic of Quentin Jolly throughout the course of the game, who I felt skated the entire 60 minutes and made some good defensive plays. Also Landon Veenstra scored a real nice first goal for us, burying a shot glove side off the crossbar.
Gatineau is a hard working hockey team; they skate, block shots, are defensive oriented and have great goaltending. It takes a full effort to beat that team.
It’s the same consistent message all year: To win in the playoffs, we need to be better defensively. Our decisions need to be defensively focused, and not offensively driven. In games like Saturday night the effort and scoring covers those poor decisions; in games like Sunday, the poor decisions bury a team deeper in the hole as the game goes on.
Positives from the weekend:
• A great win Saturday night, this team is never truly out of a hockey game on most nights;
• Bryden van Kessel, Brandon Mullin, Liam Morrow and Shawn Simms continue to produce offensively;
• Goaltending continued to be solid despite the lopsided score Sunday;
• We are still right in the mix of everything, and this season is going to come down to the very last regular season game, I think, to determine where we finish and who we are going to face in the playoffs;
• As a GM I still like where we are at as a team in terms of personnel; I’m patiently waiting to see if we can gel it all together in the next 10 games.
Notes: We have two new defencemen coming to practice Wednesday night that we are going to look at, and moving forward, due to the numbers, the lineup will be somewhat of a revolving door until we can figure out who fits where, and who is willing to play the roles that we need them to play to be successful. James, Lenard and I want guys in the lineup who are playing for the logo and North Dundas, with the sole concern of winning. We will see.
This weekend we have a 3-game sting:
• Friday night at Home against Papineauville, puck drop is 8:45 p.m.; this is the rescheduled game that was postponed prior to Christmas;
• Saturday night at Home we host the St. Isidore Eagles in a rematch from last Sunday, 7:50 p.m. puck drop;
• Sunday we travel to Papineauville for a 2:30 p.m. matinee.
Needless to say it’s a big weekend for this team; it could make or break where we are going to fit in the standings. We are playing two teams that are below us in the standings, but that does not really mean a thing; everyone is beating everyone.