The Rockets’ Launch Pad
by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets General Manager
The North Dundas Rockets had a tremendous weekend winning on the road against the Cumberland Bandits Friday night, and then again at home Saturday night against the Vankleek Hill Cougars. Going into the weekend we had no idea where we were going to end up in the standings; Cumberland and Vankleek Hill were right on our heals. The two wins ensure now that we will have home ice advantage to start the playoffs. Whether we finish in 4th or stay in 3rd will be determined in that last two games of the regular season next weekend. From where this franchise has been, securing a top-four finish in the league is a success. We have achieved our goal of having a winning season, exceeded it with a top four finish, and now will enter the playoffs poised to make a run.
Friday night’s match-up against Cumberland took place at the Navan Arena and was a thrilling hockey game that saw a total of 17 goals scored with the lead exchanging hand multiple times throughout the game. We got big efforts out of Brandon Mullin (3G/3A), Chris Marchand (2G/2A) and Bryden van Kessel (2G/2A) in terms of scoring. With the score tied 4 to 4 early in the third period, we exploded offensively starting with a goal off the stick of Chris Marchand from Tyler Cayen. Following that, Bryden van Kessel would find the net twice over the span of 31 seconds to build a 7 to 4 lead. Things appeared in hand until a immediately after the seventh goal we took four consecutive minor penalties that would result in Cumberland tying the game at seven. At 6:44 and 5:36 Mullin scored twice putting us up for good, and Landon Veenstra threw in an empty netter for a final of 10 to 7.
Saturday night we faced a team we hadn’t beaten all year in Vankleek Hill. The Cougars are an exciting hockey team; they skate hard and compete everywhere on the ice. We have had a hard time matching their compete level throughout the season. Saturday night was refreshingly different, both teams competed hard, through body checks, got in two fights, and combined for 11 total goals with the Rockets scoring the winner in overtime for a 6 to 5 win. Brandon Mullin was the hero in overtime scoring on a play set up by Bryden van Kessel and Cam Dykstra. We had a balanced offensive effort with Chris Marchand (1G/2A); Shawn Simms (1G/1A); Landon Veenstra (1G/1A); Brandon Mullin (1G/2A); Liam Morrow (1G); Can Dykstra (1G/1A) and Bryden van Kessel (3A). That win was a total team effort that saw us really up the compete level as the game progressed. Tyson Sherrer got in a real good scrap with Max Emond and Chris Marchand had a good fight against Besner. We do not, as an organization endorse fighting in any capacity, but it was nice to see some life and some heart; it is part of the game at times, and we rose to the challenge.
From a General Manager’s point of view I was happy with the efforts in both games of the entire team. We had some big efforts by everyone, not just the guys on the score sheet. I like the demeanor we have as a team, and am getting excited for playoffs.
The end result of the weekend is third place in the standings, a point up with a game in hand on the Rockland Nationals. This upcoming weekend we travel to Embrun in an effort to avenge a 10 to 2 loss in our last meeting, and then host the Gatineau Volants, a team we have yet to beat this year, in the last regular season game of the season. The playoff schedule will be announced once things are settled in the standings; it’s going to be an exciting last week of the season. I am hoping we will open at home Friday, Feb. 17.
Also of note, I would like to congratulate Brandon Mullin (18G/50A/68pts/28GP), Shawn Simms (27G/16A/43pts/28GP), Liam Morrow (26G/26A/52pts/27GP), Jason Buma (17W/29GP totalling 1716 minutes) and Bryden van Kessel (22G/43A/65pts/25GP) on being selected to the NCJHL All-Star Team. Chris Marchand (16G/16A/32pts/18GP) will be selected as an alternate for the game on Sunday, Feb. 12 in St. Isidore. Our coaching staff of James Kirkwood and Lenard Mclean has also been selected to help coach one of the teams. Lenard will be representing us at the game. The St. Isidore facility is an excellent place to watch a hockey game, there will be events all afternoon including a skills competition prior to the game itself. Anyone interested in supporting our boys should make there way to St. Isidore that Sunday.
We appreciate all the support in the community we are receiving, it’s the pillar of our team success now and in the future.
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