Soaring Rockets have shot to clinch spot in NCJHL final on Wednesday night (March 8); up 3-0 in series against Cougars

The Rockets’ Launch Pad

by Rob Sadler
North Dundas Rockets General Manager

The North Dundas Rockets took to the ice this past weekend to begin the second round of the National Capital Junior League playoffs against the Vankleek Hill Cougars.  We struggled against the Cougars all year, beating them just once in four tries.  The results this weekend were much different as we managed to pull through with a 3-to-0 series lead heading back to Vankleek Hill this Wednesday, March 8, for game 4.

The Rockets organization would like to start by thanking all of those who have come out to watch our games and support us at the rink.  The turn-out for both games this past weekend was incredible, a throwback to the old days of junior hockey with the stands full, the lobby packed and the back north corner of the arena filled up around the glass.

As a General Manager I was overwhelmed at the show of support and loved seeing some familiar faces in the stands that I have not seen at a junior hockey game in a very long time.  If I was asked to sum things up:  This weekend was what we want junior hockey in North Dundas to be all about, The Community, it’s local supporters/players, and winning.

Friday, March 3, we started the series at home and fought to a well deserved 4-to-3 win in overtime.  The club got two goals from the back end, starting with Tristan Staff (assisted by Brandon Mullin) and Dylan Marshall (assisted by Josh Hansen and Joe Dykstra).  In third period Chris Marchand found the back of the net (assisted by Marshall and Landon Veenstra).  Every overtime game needs a hero, and Liam Morrow threw on the cape less then a minute into overtime when he buried the game winner on a play set up by Bryden van Kessel.  It was without a doubt, a great way to start the series.

Saturday, March 4, we travelled to Vankleek Hill for game 2 and snuck out a 9-to-7 win after heading into the third up 8 to 4.  We sort of took our foot off the gas pedal a bit in the third, which is common unfortunately in this league, but showed a lot of heart hanging on to win.  Bryden van Kessel lead the way with three goals, Shawn Simms and Brandon Mullin had two each, with Landon Veenstra and Dylan Nixon adding the single markers.  This game was a classic case of “they don’t ask how” in terms of the win; we held on, and moved on to Sunday.

Sunday, March 5th, we exploded offensively at home, winning 8 to 2 in front of a capacity crowd in the Chesterville Arena.  Cam Dykstra (2G), Brandon Mullin (2G), Bryden van Kessel, Paul Markhauser, Chris Marchand and Josh Hansen all contributed to the goal scoring in the contest.

Positives from the weekend:

• We are getting contributions from every player in the lineup, no exceptions, the entire team is showing up to play hard

• Great goaltending from Jason Buma, he gives us confidence that we can win every night

• Balanced scoring: van Kessel (7pts) / Mullin (6pts) / Morrow (6pts) / Simms (5pts) / Hansen (4pts) / Joe Dykstra (3pts) / Veenstra (3pts) / Cam Dykstra (2pts) / Marchand (2pts) / Markhauser (2pts) / Nixon (2pts) / D. Marshall (2pts) / Staff (1pts) and Sherrer (1pts)

• Strong defensive efforts, we have guys finishing body checks, blocking shots and paying the price

• Great attitude on the bench, in the locker room and on the ice, this team has really gelled and is fun to be around right now

• Strong coaching out of James Kirkwood and Lenard Mclean, what they are preaching is working

• Community support which the boys in the room feed off of; the support and success has got this team believing it can win

• The ownership group of Kevin Byers and Kent Young have done a exceptional job organizing the gates and facilitating each playoff game

As General Manager of this team I couldn’t be prouder at the moment; and at the same time, I remain realistic and feel the consistent message of treating the playoffs like a marathon rather than a sprint has to be the focal point.  We haven’t won anything yet, and still have to find a way to come up with that fourth win in this series, which is the hardest one to get. Vankleek Hill will not lay down or make it easy for us; in fact I am expecting the opposite.

Hopefully the boys bring the same effort and determination the rest of the way through this series and we can get the results we are all hoping for.

Thank you all again for the support, we appreciate it  –  see you at the rink!