Rockets up 2-1 in playoff series against cougars

Game 5 in Chesterville this Saturday

The Rockets’ Launch Pad

by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets General Manager

The North Dundas Rockets opened up the National Capital Junior Hockey League quarterfinals this past weekend against the 8th place Vankleek Hill Cougars.  The Cougars had recently won a play down series against the Morrisburg Lions, earning the opportunity to participate in the quarterfinal.

Friday night, Game 1, took place in Chesterville with a capacity crowd on hand.  The Rockets Connor Roth (unassisted 15:30) opened the scoring on a breakaway, five hole goal giving the Rockets an early 1 to 0 lead.  At the Half way mark of the period, with the Rockets serving a rouging penalty, Marc-Antoine Doyon (Charles Doyon, Riley Sauve 10:09 PP) would even the score at 1 heading into the second period.

Connor Roth (Tom Fingler, Bryden van Kessel 18:36) got the Rockets going early in the second period with his second goal of the game.  Riley Sauve (Marc Antoine Doyon, Coleman Emery 12:51) responded for the Cougars.  With less then a minute left in the period Chris Marchand (Connor Roth 0:53) would spring free on a breakaway and beat Cougars goaltender Sebestien Moreau through the pads making it 3 to 2 North Dundas.

The third period really opened up when Bryden van Kessel (Mckay Balaton 11:51) ripped a shot off the cross bar for a 4 to 2 lead.  NCJHL Rookie of the year Justin Lefebvre (Brad Stitt, Brodie Barkley 8:24) made it 5 to 2.  Bryden van Kessel (Matt Cowley, Tom Fingler 4:56) and Shawn Simms (unassisted 3:25) would round out the scoring for a 7 to 2 game 1 win.

Saturday night, the Rockets travelled to Vankleek Hill for game 2 of the best of 7 series.  Coming out flat and failing to score on some good opportunities early in the game left the Rockets trailing 3 to 1 after the first two periods.  Ryan Allen (Nikolas Ayott, Riley Sauve 3:48 PP); Tyler Dopelammer (Marc Antoine Doyon 11:10); and Charles Doyon (Ronnie Boots, Ryan Allen 11:26 PP) did the scoring for the Cougars while Tom Fingler (Chris Marchand, Matt Cowley 0:55 1st period) managed the lone Rockets goal.  The third period was marred by penalties and stoppages, grinding the game to a halt at some points.  Jonathan Leblanc (Nicolas Castonguay 6:37) would seal the victory for the Cougars evening the series at one game a piece.

Game 3 took place Sunday afternoon back at the barn in Chesterville with the tension evident between both teams in the lobby leading up to the game.  The first period solved nothing as both teams felt their way through a scoreless 20 minutes.  Marc Antoine Doyon (Xavier Lemoine, Sebastien Moreau 7:09) broke the tie in the second period giving Vankleek Hill the first lead of the game.

Trailing by one, and shorthanded less then 5 minutes into the third, NCJHL MVP Bryden van Kessel went and exploded for a short-handed breakaway goal after blocking a point shot, tying the game at one.  Less the 2 minutes later van Kessel (Veenstra, 14:00) found the back of the Cougars net again.  Justin Lefebvre would score his first of two consecutive goals with Bryden Vankessel, Ryan Carbonette drawing assists at 12:48; and Tom Fingler, Brodie Barkley assisting on the second at 10:34.  Tom Fingler (Justin Lefbvre, Bryden van Kessel 5:35 PP) would cap off 5 unanswered North Dundas goals giving the Rockets a 2 to 1 series lead with the 5 to 1 win at home.

As General Manager of the club I feel we had a great start to series this weekend.  The first thing to mention is the tremendous support we had from the community for the two home games.  Great crowds, great atmosphere which really helps push our guys on the ice.  We got excellent goaltending out of Jason Buma in game 1, and Reilly Tondreau in game 3 for both wins.  As a team we were flat down in Vankleek Hill and probably needed to be humbled a little bit after the big win in game 1.  Coaches Nik Paas and Lenard Mclean have been preaching defense first and discipline.  Vankleek Hill has been scoring on Power Plays and odd man rushes; both situations speak for themselves.  The reality is that in the NCJHL playoffs there is no such thing as an easy game; everyone has to work hard every shift and embrace their roles on the team.  Our depth showed this weekend with a couple guys out of the lineup for games 2 and 3 due to school, suspension and injury, we should be back to a full lineup for Game 4 which will take place in Vankleek Hill, Friday March 2nd at 8pm.

Game 5 will be held in Chesterville on Saturday, March 3rd, with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.

Thanks to all those who attended this past weekend, anyone looking to catch some good junior playoff hockey knows where to find it, the National Capital Junior Hockey League playoffs!

See you at the rink.


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