CHESTERVILLE – A 5-2 loss at the hands of the visiting Vankleek Hill Cougars was the first defeat the North Dundas Rockets have suffered on home ice and just the third loss in 11 National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) games.
Saturday’s (Nov. 4) setback left the Rockets (8-3-0) in a tie for second place with the Gatineau-Hull Volant (8-3-0) at 16 points. First place belongs to the Papineau Vikings (9-3-1) who have collected 18 points. The Cumberland Bandits (7-4-0) are just two points out of second place and two up on both Vankleek Hill (6-4-0) and the Metcalfe Jets (6-4-0) who have 12.
Coming off a 3-2 win over the Metcalfe Jets on Friday (Nov. 3), the Cougars pounced on the Rockets taking a 2-0 first-period lead on shots fired by Marc-Antoine Doyon and Jonathan Leblanc.
North Dundas cut its deficit to 2-1 in the dying seconds of the session thanks to Connor Roth who buried a feed from the van Kessels – Bryden and Jack.
Tyler Dopelhamer handed the Cougars a 3-1 advantage heading into the final 20 minutes. But, the visitors cashed markers by Riley Sauve and Doyon and opened up a 5-1 lead.
Roth (Curtis Barkley, Shayne Lynott) notched his second goal of the game, but 5-2 was as close as the Rockets would get.
“We got beat by a team that played well,” offered Rockets general manager Robyn Sadler.
Sadler felt that the Rockets weren’t able to convert early scoring chances and let the Cougars hang around and eventually paid for it.
“We got away from things we have been doing in our five-game winning streak,” he said. “Hopefully it is just a week-long setback and we will push forward against Bytown [Royals].
The Rockets are hosting the Royals on Saturday (Nov. 11) at 7:30 pm. Children under 12 will be admitted free to the game while students will pay $5 and adults $8.
Sadler said he is actively looking to add to the team’s defensive core as a means of adding depth and at the same time pushing a couple of players currently in the line up to get on board with the program coach Nik Paas and assistant Lenard McLean are running.
Wheeling and dealing
The Rockets GM made a trade last week sending Ethan Gallant and the NCJHL playing rights of Winchester Hawks captain Dillon Clemen to the Blackburn Hamlet Inferno in exchange for the NCJHL playing rights of Nicholas Seguin, formerly of the Gloucester Jr. “A” Rangers and currently playing with the first-place (CCHL2) South Ottawa Canadians. Gallant was acquired from the Ottawa West Golden Knights (CCHL2) earlier in the season.
The Rockets top point producers (11 games) are: captain Bryden van Kessel 10-13-23; Landon Veenstra 9-8-17; Connor Roth 5-9-14; Chris Marchand 7-5-12; Justin Lefebvre 7-5-12; Shawn Simms 4-8-12 and Brody Barkley 4-5-9.