The Rockets’ Launch Pad
by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets
The North Dundas Rockets wrapped up the 2019-2020 season going 7-3-1 down the stretch to put themselves in contention for home ice advantage going in to the playoffs. As it sits now, only Clarence Creek with a win in their last two games can catch North Dundas. Regardless, Clarence appears to be the team the Rockets will face in round 1, marking a rematch of last year’s intense semi-final that saw the Castors prevail regrettably.
It’s been an incredibly challenging year for North Dundas, with over 93 games missed by players due to injury these guys have persevered and managed to salvage a season that looked like it was going to be a frustratingly lost cause. The most notable of injuries has been the club’s Captain Brodie Barkley who missed over 20 games so far with a debilitating shoulder injury, and fellow top 4 Defensemen Pierce Egan who missed 18 games with a fractured vertebrae and Aidan Whynot who is done for the season with a concussion. Most teams who lose players of that caliber can hardly compete let alone finish the season in contention for home ice advantage.
The guys in the lineup have struggled and fought hard led by our top line of Justin Lefebvre, Joel Hunt and Nicholas Carroll who’ve had to shoulder the bulk of the offense along with Jarrett Williams who’s exemplified strong leadership and great two way play on the ice. Jarrett is a junior A caliber hockey player who with work is sometimes in and out of the lineup (17 goals/17 assists in just 20 games); so for him to come a take a back seat at times regarding PP time due to the success of the Carroll Lefebvre and Hunt line really shows that he’s a leader on this team and that his sole concern is winning hockey games. Chesterville Native Brett Lannin along with Cameron Brown have led the way on Defense playing upwards for 35 minutes each per game in many instances down the stretch which is a testament to their abilities on the back end, both have been outstanding.
This club has also seen vast contributions from the young guys who have certainly benefited in their development this year with all the injuries, Cole Hodges, Josh Tapp, Jack Dewan, Matt Pietkrweicz, Kobey Young, Emersson Hunt and Xavier Langevin have all risen to the task, put in the hard work and now it’s paying off for them.
Our older depth guys have also been contributing, Brad Nash has been playing the best hockey I’ve seen him play, Will Watson has 7 goals in 8 games and the addition of Devon Thompson has really solidified some secondary offense on a line with Nash and Williams.
As General Manager of the club, I see thing coming together, I see a driven a focused team which is a great change from the fractured lineup we iced for two months mid season. We’ve also made a couple strong additions on the blue line in former South Grenville Ranger Drew Holmes, Evan Barroso from Bradord, Ontario and Anthony Kervin who will be leading the way down the stretch between the pipes. All three of these guys bring something to the table and we’re happy as hell to have them in our lineup heading into the playoffs.
The final week of the season saw us win crucial games against Morrisburg on Wednesday and Saturday nights, Nicholas Carroll and an unbelievable six-goal performance in the Wednesday night game and Jarrett Williams was an absolute beast in the Saturday night game facing off against Morrisburg’s Christophe Cote who was down playing for them in between games with the Ottawa Junior Senators of the CCHL. On Sunday afternoon we escaped the league-leading South Grenville Rangers with a 6 to 5 win to end the season. Anthony Kervin played real well in nets all three wins.
Justin Lefebvre and Joel Hunt site a top the leader board of the the NCJHL with 72 points and 69 points respectively. Nicholas Carroll has now entered the top 10 sitting 8th with 48 points in 26 games.
As an organization, we are proud of the adversity this team continues to overcome. A season filled with promise on paper was quickly derailed in November and December, leaving us wondering what the final outcome would be. This group has gelled together, stayed the course and is now playing its best hockey heading into the post season. This has probably been the most remarkable year of ups and downs I personally have been through in 10 years of junior hockey and we’re all looking forward to a potential playoff run starting anytime after February 20th.
See you at the rink!