CHESTERVILLE – The North Dundas Rockets are rolling into the weekend with a 2-1 lead over the Papineauville Vikings in the National Capital Junior Hockey League Final.
The team rolled into the finals after knocking out the St. Isidore Eagles and Vankleek Hill Cougars in the opening two rounds of the playoffs.
The top-seeded Vikings were atop the NCJHL standings for most of the season and decisively defeated South Grenville and Clarence on their route to the finals.
Rockets 3 – Vikings 2
The Rockets travelled to Quebec for the series’ opening game against the Vikings Fri., March 23.
North Dundas got off to a hot start after tallying two goals in the first period. Rockets’ captain and NCJHL Most Valuable Player Bryden van Kessel scored the pair of goals, beating Vikings’ goalie Yanick Gosselin.
Papineauville scored the only goal in the second period to even the score at two goals each.
Connor Roth netted the game-winner in the third period to give the Rockets an important road victory. Mckay Balaton, Tom Fingler, Jace Legue and Roth all tallied assists for the Rockets.
Reilly Tondreau picked up the victory between the pipes for North Dundas.
Rockets 5 – Vikings 4
The Rockets welcomed the Vikings back to Chesterville for game two of the series Sat., March 24.
After the Rockets carried a 2-1 lead into the second period, Papineauville scored twice in the middle frame to even the score.
Both teams exchanged tallies in the third period, which sent the game into overtime.
The Rockets gave the home fans something to cheer about after they picked up an important victory in the extra frame.
Matthew Cowley, Fingler, Justin Lefebvre and Brad Stitt each netted a goal for North Dundas.
Cowley (2), Roth (2), Shawn Simms, Griffin McCaffery, Chris Marchand and Lefebvre all tallied helpers during the contest.
Jason Buma was solid in goal for North Dundas, backstopping the team to victory.
Vikings 6 – Rockets 2
Papineauville took advantage of playing in their home rink Sun., March 25 by drubbing the Rockets 6-2.
Justin Lambrosse, Maxime Tremblay and Mathieu Lapointe all had big games for the Vikings, tallying three points each.
The Rockets got goals from Fingler and Simms. Marchand and Stitt chipped in assists.
Tondreau suffered the loss in goal for North Dundas.
Up next
The Rockets will look to jump out to a 3-1 series lead Fri., March 30 when they welcome the Vikings back to Chesterville. Puck drop is at 8 pm.
The teams will then head back to Quebec Sat., March 31 when they square off at Complexe Branchaud-Briere. Game time is 7:30 pm.
If necessary, the Rockets will welcome back the Vikings to Chesterville Sun., April 1 for game six of the series. The puck drops at 3:30 pm.
Playoff stats
The Rockets’ offence has been led by van Kessel and Roth who each have tallied 22 points these playoffs. van Kessel also leads the playoff goal-scoring race with 12 goals. Forwards Fingler and Lefebvre have 19 and 16 points respectively during the postseason.
The goaltending tandem of Buma and Tondreau has provided the Rockets with a chance to win each game. Buma carries a 2.85 GAA in the playoffs while Tondreau’s GAA sits at 3.12. Papineauville netminder Yannick Gosselin has been the league’s top goalie in the playoffs with a 2.85 GAA.