The Rockets’ Launch Pad
by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets General Manager
The Rockets finished up their exhibition schedule this past Saturday night in Prescott with a 5 to 4 overtime win against the South Grenville Rangers. The Rangers expansion franchise appears to be on its way as the game Saturday night was classic NCJHL hockey. Lots of speed, lots of checking, lots of goals and lots of excitement right up to when Chesterville native Brodie Barkley buried the game winning, overtime goal on a slap shot from the point set up by Zack Towns. Bryden van Kessel, Justin Lefebvre and Dylan Nixon did the rest of the scoring for the Rockets.
The team roster for the upcoming 2017-2018 roster consists of 15 local players out of 18 signed, with some familiar names and faces back from the playoff run last year. Bryden van Kessel, last years NCJHL league MVP, will be wearing the ‘C’ this year; while Shawn Simms and two other players to be named later will be alternate captains. Jason Buma will be our starting goalie.
In other notes, it’s been a busy couple weeks starting with player additions:
• Brad Stitt, a South Mountain resident who was away at school last year and played for the Dundas Blues junior hockey club: Brad is home on work placement for the year and we were able to get a deal done bringing the 6’1 Center home to play. Brad was drafted by the Carleton Place Canadians, and also played in the CCHL2 prior to leaving for school.
• Zack Towns, a Kemptville resident and former member of the Gloucester Junior A Rangers: Full of speed and hockey intelligence, Zack is junior A caliber player who feels that with school commitments playing for his local NCJHL team is a better fit. We are glad to have Zack, and look forward to watching him play.
• Brodie Barkley, a Chesterville native who is going to school in Kingston this year, and who will be one the top D Men in the NCJHL: Brodie played in Prescott of the CCHL 2 last season and was obtained through hockey Canada release over the summer, the Winchester Hawks had his CCHL 2 playing rights.
• McKay Balaton, finished the year with the Clarence Creek Beavers in the CCHL 2 last year and has recently moved to Embrun. He expressed interest in joining our team and we were happy that Andre Roy and Tim Kosh of the Clarence team were able to work with us to get a deal done. In exchange for Balaton we sent the playing the rights of Quentin Jolly and Andre Levigne.
• Justin Lefebvre, in a deal with Gatineau Hull-Volants, Justin was directed our way by Craig (johnboy) Smith, current General Manager of the Ottawa West Golden Knights: A smart player with a quick release and on ice awareness.
We have also traded the playing rights of Josh Hansen and Tyler Cayen to the Blackburn Hamlet Inferno for the up and coming season. They were both overage members of our team that went to the finals last year; as an organization we would like to thank them for the efforts and wish them both good luck this season with the expansion inferno.
With the abundance of overage players we had coming into this season, it was important to find them all a place to play, each team only has four overage spots. In a deal with South Grenville, we were able to find Dylan and Travis Marshall a place to play this year as well. Both were members of our team last year, and in years past, as an organization we would like to wish them both a great season in South Grenville, and thank their family for the tremendous support the past few years.
As General Manager of the hockey team I am optimistic. I feel we have upgraded in some key depth positions when compared to last year, and I really like the character of every kid on the team so far. We have been able to keep it local, which is important, and have three players from out of town in Justin Lefebvre, Ethan Gallant and Mckay Balaton that will do nothing but help us compete and win.
We held our Golf Tournament at Cedar Glen on Saturday and had a great turn out. We thank all those who participated, Dennis and Kathy at the golf course, and to all the sponsors that helped us. We can’t do it without you.
The season opener is at the NCJHL Showcase on Sept. 23 at the Robert Guertin Arena where we will be on the road against the Papineaville Vikings; puck drops at 8:30 p.m.
See you at the rink.