CHESTERVILLE – As far as lessons go, the North Dundas Rockets took diligent notes in their first encounter with the powerhouse South Grenville Rangers.
Rangers 4 – Rockets 2
The Rockets had worked efficiently in the last few weeks to get their game in order and faced a stiff test in a home-and-home series against the Rangers.
Joel Hunt and Justin Lefebvre scored for the Rockets as they fell 4-2 Fri., Nov. 1 at the Cardinal Arena.
The Rangers’ Jordan Dodge (two goals), Cole Edgley and Matthew O’Brien did the damage for the home squad with captain Brody Ranger posting four assists on the night.
Rangers 3 – Rockets 1
The rematch held Sat., Nov. 2 at the Chesterville Arena was a similar result with Hunt the only Rocket able to light the lamp in the 3-1 loss.
Dodge scored twice again and Joe MacLean had the other marker as the Rangers improved to 9-1-0.
Despite the losses, Rockets general manager and coach Rob Sadler felt his young team got a taste of what it takes to win.
“Some of the boys got exposed to what I felt was a great measuring stick for where we are at as a team. With two loses, both within two goals, I’d say that shows we are almost where we need to be,” he said.
Missing both Jarrett Williams and captain Brodie Barkley, some of the less experienced players had a chance for more ice time, which provided Sadler with some great insight into the structure of the team.
“The one key thing you can learn when playing against a team like South Grenville is who on your roster can play against the toughest competition and who can’t. Gives me a good idea as a general manager of a couple changes I need to make before the Dec. 1 roster deadline,” he said. “From the players point of view, the young guys get to see what the competition is truly like come playoffs, and gives them a feel for where they need to be physically and mentally when taking on a top tier opponent.”
The North Dundas GM was also happy with the effort of veterans Lefebvre and Hunt, who continue to be offensive leaders. Lefebvre is now only eight points back of becoming the Rockets regular season all-time leading scorer, trailing only perennial league MVP Bryden Van Kessel.
Goaltender Sebastien Moreau was between the pipes for both games and Sadler also praised his consistent effort.
“As an organization we were very happy with the way he played. He’s another veteran that we acquired in a deal with St-Isidore. [He] has almost beaten us in a couple playoff series during our runs of the past when he was with Vankleek Hill, and we are glad he is playing with us now instead of against us,” said Sadler.
The Rockets will get another crack at the Rangers Fri., Nov. 22 in Cardinal.
The basement dwelling Morrisburg Lions (1-9-1) will be in town Sat., Nov. 9 to take on the Rockets at 7:30 pm. The St-Isidore Eagles (7-5-1), in second place in the East Division, will host North Dundas Sun., Nov. 10.