FLYERS NIP ROCKETS – by C. Scott Holland

It was a game unlike any of the 795 in attendance had expected and one which easily could have been over after 20 minutes. Instead over the course of 60 minutes the Strathroy Rockets and Leamington Flyers battled for the puck in every area of the ice with the Flyers outshooting the Rockets by a low margin of 29 to 20.

It was a close contest in which the hometown Flyers’ control of the puck led them to victory. The Flyers puck movement was especially effective during the final minute of play when Strathroy sought to pull starter Dane Gubbels (0-2, 3.24 GAA) for an extra attacker but they were simply unable to as the Flyers pressed and kept the Rockets almost hemmed in their own end.

Gubbels was starting with Mat Ouellet serving a suspension stemming from last Saturday night’s game against Leamington after a spirited bout with Flyers netminder Trevor Wheaton.

Offensively the Flyers could have been ahead by three or four goals in the first had it not been for Gubbels and some misses on several good chances. The Flyers dominated the Rockets and outshot their opponents 15-9 in the opening 20 minutes of action.

During the next 40 minutes however, the shots were fairly even and a Leamington tally in the first minute of the second was all the hometown boys would need to get past the pesky Rockets.

The Rockets opened the scoring four minutes into the first when Stuart King’s right lane blast bounded high off Leamington starter Michael Barrett’s shoulder (8-2, 2.08 GAA). The shot stuck Nick Boyer in the midsection and arched up and over Barrett into the net as Boyer and two Flyers crashed into the Flyer goal.

The Flyers drew even at 8:25 Alex Friesen and Nathan Opblinger hooked passes and as Opblinger moved down the left lane and in close on Gubbels he faked a shot, then slipped the puck to Kyle Perkowski who all alone by the left post. Perkowski manoeuvred it into the open side and it was a tied game.

Just 28 seconds after the opening faceoff that began the second frame, Chris Scott slipped a pass through the Rocket crease on a Flyer powerplay finding Mitchell Amante unmarked at the back post. With that tally the Flyers took a 2-1 lead and then played defensive hockey the rest of the way.

The Flyers kept the Rockets’ powerplay at bay as they killed four attempts in the second period and allowed the Rockets only 11 shots in the final 40 minutes.

The Rockets were without the services of Kieran Milne, Dylan Newman, Mark MacAulay and Mat Ouellet. Ouellet was serving a suspension stemming from Saturday night’s contest. Newman and Rocket scoring leader MacAulay were also suspended. Filling spots on the roster were Aaron Ross, Jacob Rody and spare goalie Brett Avery.

Likewise the Flyers had Alex Derksen scratched as well as Kyle Quick who was also serving the second of a two-game suspension. Dallas Pereira was a call-up for the Flyers.

The Flyers’ win combined with Chatham beating Sarnia 4-3 gave the Flyers a four-point lead over the Legionnaires, but Sarnia does have several games in hand.

The Entertainment Tonight Players of the Game for the Rockets were Gubbels, Boyer and Andrew Martin. The myFM Players of the Game were Gubbels and Perkowski.

The Flyers’ next game will be at home against the London Nationals November 13 while the Rockets host LaSalle on Saturday, November 8 and then travel to London on Wednesday, November 12.

David Honsberger

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