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After last week's blowout loss to the Nelson Leafs, Rockets head coach Ty Davidson was visibly frustrated at his team's inability to string together consecutive solid efforts. This week, with wins on Friday and Saturday, the Rockets have their first winning streak since October. Saturday's 3-2 win over the Fernie Ghostriders put a capper on a big weekend for Golden.
"What I loved about tonight's game was that, with the exception of two shifts in the first period, we played basically a 60 minute game," Davidson said following the win. "We didn't have many lulls…we out battled them on special teams, it was a great win through and through."
As Davidson pointed out, the game couldn't have got off to a worse start for Golden. With captain Michael Anderson in the box, Ghostriders rookie forward Aidan Geiger beat Rockets goaltender Brian Parsons to put Fernie up less than 90 seconds into the game. On the very next shift Aaron Neufeld extended Fernie's lead to 2-0 and it quickly appeared as thought it would be another long night for the Rockets.
Davidson called a timeout following the second goal in order for the team to re-group.
"I just said to them, 'Look it, we can ill afford to throw away hockey games. We've got to get going'. I reiterated that we're playing for a playoff spot..sometimes you do something right as a coach and I guess that was one of those occasions," Davidson laughed.
The timeout worked wonders.
Tanner Watt scored his Rockets-leading 16th goal of the season a few minutes later on the power play with help from Coltin Berard and Ian Desrosier. With just 2:42 remaining in the first period, Nick McCabe beat Riders netminder Austin Wells to send the clubs to the locker room even at two goals apiece. The goal was the first since Nov. 30 for the 16 year old McCabe. Watt added an assist for his 5th point in his past two games.
The Rockets continued to outshoot and outchance the Riders in the second. Parsons came up large on the few opportunities that Golden allowed. His top save of the night came midway through the second when he made a brilliant left pad stop after a Fernie forward broke in alone.
With the Rockets on the power play, Jacob Macpherson fired a shot that proved to be difficult for Wells to handle. Braeden Allkins was waiting to the goaltender's right and he made no mistake with the open cage to give the Rockets a 3-2 advantage with 7:34 remaining in the third.
From there, Golden's mostly stellar defence and aggressive forecheck brought them a well deserved victory. In the midst of a late game push and with the net empty, the Riders shot themselves in the foot when Spencer Bender took a cross-checking penalty, cementing the Rockets' 3-2 victory.
Davidson believes the last two games are evidence that his players are really buying into his system with the team's playoff push intensifying.
"I think we truly 100 per cent believe we are going to be in the playoffs this year," Davidson said.
With its back to back wins, the Rockets sit just four points behind the Columbia Valley Rockies, who currently hold the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eddie Mountain Division.
Next week, Golden will host the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Wednesday and the Kimberley Dynamiters on Friday before hitting the road for a pivotal game in Invermere against the Rockies on Saturday.