The Rockets’ Launch Pad
by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets General Manager
The North Dundas Rockets held their third place standing with a win and a loss this weekend in the tight National Capital Hockey League. With an 18-7 record the club sits three points up on the surging Cumberland Bandits, winners of four straight, and trail the Gatineau Hull Volants by two points for the second spot. The Rockets have had a great start to the second half of the season with a record of 8-2 in their last ten games.
Saturday night, in Chesterville, North Dundas played host to the Gatineau Hull Volants with an opportunity to move into second place only to fall short with a 5 to 4 overtime loss in what was an exciting game right to the end. The Volants got sharp goaltending from Ian Girard, and the Rockets came out flat trailing the game 1 to 0 before the first minute had expired. Jace Legue (Shawn Simms, Justin Lefbvre 10:56) would even the score as the teams were tied 1 to 1 after the first period. Gatineau would build themselves a 3 to 1 lead before the halfway point of the second on goals from Jeremie Perreault (Martin Arnold 15:04) and Pascal Vachon (Karl Venne 14:95). The Rockets would pull to within one after Justin Lefbvre (Shawn Simms, Connor Roth 6:03) to leave the score 3 to 2 Gatineau heading into the third.
The Volants opened the third period scoring when Dennis Gratton snapped a shot off the cross bar and in at 10:40 making it 4 to 2. The rockets would rally late in the third with goals from Bryden van Kessel (Brodie Barkley 6:25) and Jace Legue (Justin Lefebvre 4:33). Overtime saw a plethora of opportunity for the Rockets to win, but Ian Girard had other plans stopping a breakaway and multiple point blank shots until finally Antoine Lefleche (Martin Arnold 1:20) beat Rockets goalie Jason Buma through the legs to give Gatineau the overtime win.
Sunday afternoon in Cardinal the team played a South Grenville Rangers team that is currently in a battle with the Morrisburg Lions for playoff positioning. In tough and gritty hockey game that saw 104 minutes in penalties distributed, the Rockets would prevail, winning 11-5.
The Rockets had five different players providing goals in Tom Fingler; Shawn Simms (2); Nick Sourges (his first NCJHL goal); Landon Veenstra (2); Justin Lefbvre (2); Connor Roth (2); and Brodie Barkley.
Matthew Cowley lead the way on the back end drawing 4 assists while Connor Roth (3); Brodie Barkley (2); Justin Lefebvre (2); Shawn Simms (2); Tom Fingler (2); Brad Stitt (2); and Landon Veenstra (1) rounded out the rest of the playmaking.
As General Manager of the club I can’t help but say I was disappointed with the loss at home on Saturday night, we had a good chance to pull ahead of Gatineau for second place this weekend, and instead we continue to trail by two points with Cumberland and St. Isidore right behind us. To put it bluntly, our team came out flat, and didn’t find it’s legs until late in the third period. When a top place team like Gatineau comes to the barn, you have to be ready to play from the start.
On a more positive note I would like to congratulate the team because Sunday’s win put our club at 36 points on the season with 8 games remaining, the highest point total in a regular season this franchise has ever had, another milestone in what has been a record breaking season thus far for us. We have all the pieces we need for a deep playoff run, hopefully we build off that bounce back win on Sunday and come next weekend ready to play against the Cumberland Bandits at home next Saturday, January 27th at 7:30pm.
Thank you to those who came out Saturday night to support us, we hope you enjoyed the game.