Rockets on the road Wednesday night in bid to increase series lead over Royals

The Rockets’ Launch Pad

by Rob Sadler
General Manager
North Dundas Rockets

The National Capital Junior Playoffs are well under way as the quarterfinals wrapped up last week that would ultimately see three of the four top seeded teams ousted unexpectedly in what turned out to be a quarterfinal of upsets.  Only the South Grenville Rangers who swept the Metcalfe Jets 4-0 advanced out of the top four seeded clubs.  The number two seed Vankleek Hill Cougars were upset by the seventh seed Gatineau Hull Volants; the third seed St Isidore Eagles were up on the sixth seed Bytown Royals 3 games to 0 before the Royals mounted the most historic comeback in NCJHL history eliminating the Eagles in 7 games; while the North Dundas Rockets also knocked out the fourth seed Clarence Creek Castors in game 7 this past Thursday, March 5th.

South Grenville has started their semi final match up with Gatineau and currently lead that series 2-0, while the Rockets have started this past Saturday at home posting a 4 to 1 opening game win over the Royals.

Last week, the Rockets hosted Clarence at home for game 6 of the quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 4th, with an opportunity to take the series, only to fall short 4 to 1, which prompted a decisive 7th game.  The Castors got goals from Jacob Servant, Sam Gaudet, Wyatt Villalta, and Xavier Brunet in the win while the lone scorer for the Rockets was Nicholas Carroll on a powerplay goal set up by Brett Lannin.  Corey Camirand was between the pipes for the Castors victory.

Game 7 took place Thursday, March 5th, at the Rockland CIH Arena.  The Castors would open the scoring on a seeing eye shot from the point by Gabrielle Rousselle (Brandon Lagare, Sam Gaudet 12:29); only to see Joel Hunt (Cameron Brown 9:48) respond in turn.  Two minutes later Nicholas Carroll (Evan Barosso, Hunt 7:08) snapped a shot from the slot past Camirand on a sweet pass from behind the net from Barosso.  Carroll (Hunt 6:14) wasn’t finished that shift, as less than a minute later he beat Camirand, again giving the Rockets a 3 to 1 lead heading into the second period.

The Rockets got things going early when Justin Lefebvre (Hunt 19:25) got on the board, while at the halfway mark of the period Cameron Brown (Unassisted 10:22) rounded out the period’s scoring on a breakaway with a good low shot that went right through the Clarence netminder.

The third and final frame would see Clarence mount the comeback as Jayden Tadiello (Wyatt Villalta 10:31) got the Castors back in the game.  The comeback, however, was short lived after Lefebvre (unassisted 9:42) undressed a Clarence defender with a toe drag move before freezing Clarence goaltender AJ Lariviere (who replaced Camirand) and buried a puck five hole for the Rockets 6th and final goal.  Legare (Rouselle, Gaudet 7:51) would round things out for Clarence as the game ended 6 to 3 in favour of North Dundas, who took the series 4 games to 3.

As General Manager of the club I was extremely proud of the way all of our guys worked in game 7; especially considering the adversity the whole group faced.  The Castors were a big physical team; and it’s no secret that the animosity runs deep between both organizations.  There is absolutely zero love lost between our hockey teams both on and off the ice.  I honestly thought we came out a little flat in Game 6, but at the same time we had 46 shots that game, so a person could argue we got beat by a hot goaltender.  It’s incredible to see the commitment evolve in this dressing room which the core that we have.

Everyone is playing through something; everyone is making sacrifices personally to achieve team success.  One perfect example would be the 12-hour drive that Jarrett Williams made the same day from the other side of Timmins to make sure he could play in game 7; I don’t have the words to express what kind of dedication that takes, but I know as an organization and team we are all very appreciative.  The top line really showed up to play also; a person could tell walking though the dressing room doors before the game that Lefebvre, Carroll and Hunt were not going to take losing as an option, and the score sheet reflects that.  Brett Lannin, Cam Brown, Evan Barosso, Drew Holmes and Jack Dewan continue to impress on the back end as we have been running 5 D each game due to injuries, and Anthony Kervin has been very solid leading the way in nets.  Each player we have has a personal story with our team, and it’s awesome to see those individual stories turn into something positive as a group!  I hope they all keep playing for each other; it’s fun to watch and be a part of.

NCJHL Semi-Final Game 1 vs Bytown Royals

There was hardly any time to breath before starting the next series; due to weather complications in the previous series we were forced to get underway on Saturday, March 7th.  The Rockets and Royals battled through fatigue in what was a decent paced hockey game considering the circumstances.  The first period was all North Dundas in terms of the scoring; Evan Barosso (Brad Nash, Jarrett Williams 16:16) opened things up on a shot from the point that eluded Royals goaltender Danik Gervais.  A little over a minute later Jarrett Williams (Drew Holmes 15:05) would unleash a wicked wrist shot to the high glove side that would be a goal in any league, slamming off the post and in. Chesterville Native Brett Lannin (Lefebvre, Matt Pietrkeiwicz 6:54) would round out the first period offence beating Gervais with a great wrist shot through traffic from the point.

Leading 3 to 1 heading into the second period, Bytown would open the offence when Josh Renaud (Declan Campbell Hill, Francis Dall 8:44) beat Kervin with a nifty little fake move.  Lefebvre (Brown, Barosso 2:10) would finish off the game’s scoring at the end of the second period, ultimately leaving the Rockets with a 4 to 1 win as both squads skated to a scoreless third period.  Anthony Kervin posted the win in nets for North Dundas.

As Head Coach I thought the game Saturday night was a quick turnover, and both teams were tired; so to be honest, there’s no feel right now for how our teams will really match up.  It’s impossible to overlook Bytown’s historic comeback against St Isidore, and given the fact they were missing a few guys for game one, I highly doubt we saw what kind of team they really are.  Personally, I hope our guys come prepared Wednesday night because I think the Royals will be coming out hard looking to tie this series up at home.

The rest of the series breaks down as follows:
Game 2 – Wednesday, March 11 @ Bernard Grandmaitre Arena 9:15pm
Game 3 – Friday, March 13th @ Chesterville Arena 7:30pm
Game 4 – Saturday, March 14th @ Bernard Grandmaitre Arena 5:15pm
Game 5 – Sunday, March 15th @ Chesterville Arena 3:15pm
Game 6 – Friday, March 20th @ Bernard Grandmaitre 8:15pm
Game 7 – Saturday, March 21st @ Chesterville Arena 7:30pm

As an organization we would like to thank all those who have been coming out to support us in this years playoffs, it proved to be an entertaining first round; and given all the upsets its impossible to determine what lies ahead for any team left competing.

Hope to see you all at the rink!

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