Looking forward to the second half of a strong Rockets’ season; our condolences to the van Kessel family

The Rockets’ Launch Pad

by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets General Manager

The first half of the season has been a success for our club, sitting only two points out of second place and seven points out of first I am excited to say that we will be looking to make a run in the second half, not just for a playoff spot, but for potential home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.  As general manager, my goal starting this season was simply to have a winning season for the first time in this franchise’s history; up to this point the results have been favourable.

We have had several bright spots in the first half:

  • Bryden van Kessel (48 points) is leading the league in scoring, with Brandon Mullin (37 points), and Liam Morrow (32 points) not too far behind him.   
  • Shawn Simms (26 points) capped off a 13-goal-in-four game performance to close out the final four games of the second half.    
  • Chris Marchand has been dominant when in the lineup with 19 points in 10 games.  
  • Jason Buma has also been solid in nets consistently.
  • Quentin Jolly has been a pleasant surprise as well; our only midget age player has 11 points in 13 games and can really skate.
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Shown during an Oct. 22 game against Cumberland, Chris Marchand (centre) is cited as one of the factors in the Rockets’ success in the first half of the season. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

The leadership group, lead by Brandon Mullin, Bryden van Kessel, Shawn Simms and Liam Morrow, has been second to none this year.  The manner in which these young men conduct themselves from a team standpoint is really something that I am proud to witness and enjoy as a GM.  Our coaching staff of James Kirkwood and Lenard Mclean have provided a stable and consistent demeanour on the bench that this team has needed.  Donnie Helder and Duane Young have been unbelievable help on the bench in terms of looking after the guys injuries and equipment before and after games.  Our ownership group of Kevin Byers and Kent Young have been a pleasure to work for, and have shown a lot of faith in us so far this season; we hope that the reward will be positive by the end of the year.

The defensive issues have been addressed so far with the changing of personnel and shuffling some guys into new roles,as a whole we were much better defensively the last couple weeks leading to the break.

I have four cards left, and need to be down to a roster of 23 players by Jan. 10, 2017.  I am expecting to fill two of the those cards starting the new year with the additions of Cam and Joey Dysktra from Clinton, Ontario; both played for the PJHL Champion Exeter Hawks the year before, and are welcome 20-year-old veterans who should give us even more depth moving forward.  Also, Paul Markhauser is expected to rejoin the team in a couple weeks following a trip to Amsterdam.

From a local standpoint we will be moving forward with Bryden van Kessel, Brandon Mullin, Liam Morrow, Shawn Simms, Chris Marchand, Tyson Sherrer, Dylan and Travis Marshall, Quentin Jolly, Sheldon Holmes, Tristan Staff, Jason Buma, Kody Helder, and our list of local affiliates including Bailey Norman and Curtis Barkley to name a couple off of the list.

The reality of our player situation is that we have sixteen 20-plus-year-old players after signing the Dysktras; needless to say, this is the year to make a second-half run. Rarely do you get this kind of depth on a junior hockey team at any point. From an organizational standpoint, we think we can win this league this year.  It will depend on attendance, and our effort defensively.  The team to do it is on paper, we will see if that team shows up to play on the ice.

The Rockets would like to thank all those who have supported us in the first half of the season, we hope to see you all at the rink again as we make this push down the stretch.  This team is not a success at any level without the support of the community, whether we win or lose.   I have become very aware over the past 15 years now of the passion North Dundas has for hockey; I saw it coaching the Hawks with Tommy and Lenard when we were making playoff runs; and I would love nothing more than to see that same situation here in Chesterville with the Rockets.
Finally, it is with a heavy heart that the team expresses condolences to Bryden on the loss of his grandfather, Peter van Kessel Sr. — an avid Rockets supporter and a staple at the local arenas in North Dundas for as long as I can remember.  I will personally miss seeing Pete at the rink and talking hockey with him in one of the corners. He wished nothing but the best for our team.