STARS’ BIG UNIT FLATTENS ROCKETS
After breaking a 13-game winless string with a 4-0 shutout win over the London Nationals the previous night at the Western Fair, the Rockets were no match for the St. Thomas Stars special teams succumbing 3-1.
When the most dangerous offensive team (St. Thomas 4.52 goals per game) meets the most challenged offensive team (Strathroy 2.48 goals per game) the result is seldom in doubt.
The Star’s top unit of Ryan Valentini, Eric Henderson and Cal Horvat tallied the Stars first two markers on beautiful picture perfect passing plays in the second period on the powerplay.
Their second goal by Horvat was benefited by a horrendous line change by the Rockets. When both forwards went to the bench for a change, one Rocket fell entering the ice, the other never jumped the boards to enter the play giving the talented Stars a 5 on 2 rush.
After Rocket newcomer Jeff Williams cut the lead to 2-1, Adam Keyes clinched the win with the Stars’ third powerplay marker of the night early in the third period.
The Stars clicked on 3 of their 6 extra man advantages in the game. The Rockets went 0-3 including a dismal two-man advantage for a full two minutes where they generated just two shots on goal.
The game marked the third time this season that the Rockets have allowed three powerplay goals against in one contest.
The shots on goal were very close after two periods with the Stars leading 22-21 but the Stars overpowered the Rockets in the third outshooting them 18-8.
Clearly the game’s decisive moment came in the second period when Keyes took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Stars’ bench boss Darren Kelly was assessed a bench minor giving the Rockets a 2-man advantage for a full two minutes. The Stars had just taken a 2-0 lead moments earlier and the Rockets failed to capitalize – actually they failed to even threaten. It was a demoralizing effort as they forsake the new powerplay format they implemented the night before in London and reverted back to overpassing the puck causing many turnovers and icings by the Stars.
The Rockets won 36 of 71 faceoffs (50.7%). Strathroy goal scorer Williams led all Rockets with 4 shots on goal. The Stars outshot the Rockets on the powerplay 12-7.
Despite making several phenomena saves, Mat Ouellet suffered the loss in goal for the Rockets. He leads all West goaltenders in shots on goal and is third in the GOJHL. The steady Nik Dampier earned the win for the Stars.
The win propelled the Stars (14—1-4) into sole possession of second place, two points ahead of LaSalle (12-8-3-1) and London (12-7-3-1).
The Rockets (5-12-2-4) are buried in seventh place, four points ahead of Lambton Shores (5-16-0-2) and 9 points below Sarnia (11-8-1-2).
The Rockets will host Chatham (12-7-1-1) on Saturday, November 21 at the WMMC. The Stars will head to St. Marys (4-15-1-2) to play the last place Lincolns on Friday, November 20.
The Rockets will participate in the annual Ricco Food Santa Claus Parade Saturday, November 21 in downtown Strathroy. The parade starts at 1pm.
David Honsberger is a former journalist and columnist for the Strathroy Age Dispatch. A winner of the Stuart Bolton Memorial Award for the Strathroy Rockets Volunteer of the Year in 1996, David served for seven years as the club’s president. He was honoured in 2015 when he was inducted into the Strathroy Rockets/Blades Wall of Fame in the builder category. David is currently in his 20th year of volunteering with the Rockets and provides the colour commentary for the Strathroy Rockets radio broadcasts on 105.7 my FM. He resides in Strathroy with his mother and his two cherished Savannah cats, Scout and Hey, Boo.