The Rockets’ Launch Pad
by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets General Manager
The start of the National Capital Junior Hockey League Finals did not disappoint when the Embrun Panthers faced off against the North Dundas Rockets this weekend.
Two exciting games were played in which Embun jumped to a 1-0 lead Friday night at home with a 6 to 3 win, only to see the Rockets rebound with a 4-to-1 resurgence on home ice in front of a capacity crowd to tie the series at 1-1.
Friday night in Embrun it was evident that the layoff had affected our team’s (Rockets) ability to get going early in the game. The effort was there from the start; we just were not sharp with a series of turnovers helping Embrun build a 5-to-1 lead in the second period with Josh Renaud leading the way. We fought back with goals from Chris Marchand to start, followed by a pair of markers from Brandon Mullin. A late goal with 19 seconds left in the third by Nathan Boles was the backbreaker making it 6 to 3 and the final score.
From a GM standpoint, I was not surprised that we had some trouble off the start; we hadn’t been on the ice for a week and a half with a practice scheduled for Wednesday night cancelled due to the storm. All in all, I was just excited to see our team and our players get an opportunity to start the finals and get things going.
Saturday night at home we tied the series up with a 4-to-1 win with Brandon Mullin leading the way offensively with a pair of goals. We got great efforts out of everyone and looked more like the team from the previous series against Vankleek Hill. Chris Marchand and Cam Dykstra had great games contributing with a goal each in the win. Bryden Vankessel and Dylan Nixon were absolutely dominant on the back end with Jason Buma looking incredibly sharp between the pipes. A couple of local midget affiliates also made their playoff debuts with Bayden Carr serving as the back up goalie and Jack van Kessel drawing in on the left side with Landon Veenstra and Josh Hansen.
Obviously the win Saturday night was a big night for our franchise and the kids on our team. We had a packed house, the boys showed up to play hard, we got a couple big penalty kills early in the game, we had guys blocking shots and taking hits to make plays. A real solid effort, I will continue to reiterate that it’s the players hard work and determination that gives us a chance, when they show up hard, we can be tough to contend with.
Positives from the weekend:
• We found our step in game two after a bit of a stumble out of the gate;
• Discipline in the 4 to 1 win at home taking only four penalties;
• A big effort out of Defenseman, that’s the key to this series, we have to be good on the back end;
• Our three forward lines look interested and willing to compete, the game 2 win was a huge bounce back;
• The hockey is fast, exciting and literally edge of your seat entertainment, the game is never over until the buzzer rings, our guys hung right in until the end both games;
• Phenomenal community support at both games.
We would like to thank the capacity crowd that filled the Chesterville Arena to show their support and take a glimpse of what the NCJHL has to offer in the Ottawa area, and that’s fast, exciting hockey with local infused talent. To quote former Kemptville 73’s long time coach Doug ‘torchy’ Barnett, who has been experiencing Junior C hockey for the first time this year with his son Tanner being a member of our team: “Junior C hockey is the hidden gem of the Ottawa area.”
Come check it out.
Game 3 – Friday March 24th @ Embrun 8 p.m.
Game 4 – Saturday March 25th @ Chesterville 7:30 p.m.
Game 5 – Sunday March 26th @ Embrun 1:30 p.m.