CHATHAM MAROONS BEAT STRATHROY ROCKETS FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT WIN

Administrator’s Notes – The Rocket loss snapped an 8-game point streak, courtesy in huge part to seven consecutive overtime games.  The Rockets have sent 14 games into extra time this season, winning 3, tying 3 and losing 8.

The Rokets have had just a single win in their last 6 games.  They have won just 4 games on the road all season.

The Rockets battled the high-powered Maroons well for the first 32 minutes.  The match was tied at 1-1 until Teddy McGeen and Steven Beenackers opened up a 3-1 lead after forty minutes.  The Maroons are a perfect 13-0 when leading after two periods.

It was a mismatch in many respects.  Chatham boasts the highest goals per game of any team in the Western Conference while the Rockets are one of the poorest averaging less than 3 goals a game.

The Rockets’ top unit of Lucas Latina centering T. J. Harris and Kieran Milne was practically non-existant.  The trio generating just 2 shots on goal and very little in the way of scoring opportunities.  Milne, one of only two 20-year-olds on the team, has earned just a single assist in his last 6 games.  He has struggled this season and has the lowest plus-minus on the team.

The all-rookie line of Shane Bulitka with Max Ewart and Wes Kelly continued to shine.  They combined for 11 shots on goal, 9 of them from Ewart and were a constant threat all night.

With two games still to be played in the season series, the Maroons have already clinched the series winning all four games.  They easily clipped the Rockets 6-1 in their first meeting, and then earned 3-1 and a 2-1 overtime win in the other two games.  The Rockets have scored just a total of 5 goals, only two of which are even strength, in 4 games against the Maroons this season.

Bulitka earned an assist on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with Harris and Ewart on a Rocket powerplay on the prettiest play of the night extending Bulitka’s point streak to seven games, a season high for the Rockets.

Coming off of a 6-5 double overtime loss to Sarnia the night before the Rockets have won just one game out of 11 when playing on back-to-back nights.

Chatham controlled the faceoff circle winning 48 and losing only 36 draws.

Other than Ewart’s 9 shots on goal, no Rocket had more than two shots on goal other than Steve Griggs who had three.

The score could have been much worse for the Rockets, onc goal was waved off for the net being off of its moorings and the other for a quick whistle.

Rocket goaltender Da Davies received little help from his teammates.  The Maroons practically lived in the blue paint and capitalized on rebounds after Davies had made the first save and the Rockets were unable to clear the puck or contain the Maroons in front of the goal.

The game was delayed for over 5 minutes in the second period as the on-ice officials entered into a lengthy discussion over a rumoured discriminatory slur directed at Rocket winger Jeff Williams.  No penalty was called on the play.

The Maroons generated 11 powerplay shots on goal in 7 chances while the Rockets could only muster up 3 powerlay shots on three chances.

Former Lambton Shores Predator defenseman Ryan Fraser had an outstanding game on the Maroon blueline.  He exhibited great puck control, led the breakout with lovely tape-to-tape passes and engineered a smooth and dangerous powerplay.

 

Maroons beat Rockets for fourth straight win

By Mark Malone, Chatham Daily News

(Photo – Chatham Maroons’ Michael Levesque takes a shot while being watched by Strathroy Rockets’ Matt Laberge in the first period Sunday at Memorial Arena. Levesque scored on the shot for a 1-0 lead. MARK MALONE/The Daily News

Celebrating their fourth straight win, the Chatham Maroons had music blaring in their locker-room Sunday night.
Players were singing along to Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell on Ain’t No Mountain High Enough after rising in the standings.

“Everyone is in a good mood,” rookie forward Blair Derynck said. “We’re stringing together some wins. It feels good.”

The Maroons moved back into second place in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Western Conference with their 6-2 win over the Strathroy Rockets before 701 fans at Memorial Arena.

“Everyone is having fun,” said Derynck, who scored for the second straight night. “We’re scoring a lot of goals. We’re not allowing a lot of goals. That’s how we want to play the rest of the year. All four lines are scoring. The defence is chipping in.”

Teddy McGeen continued his torrid pace with two more goals. He has 10 goals in the last five games.  McGeen has 16 goals in his last 14 contests, including three hat tricks and two two-goal games.

Michael Levesque, Steven Beenackers and Josh Barraclough also scored as the Maroons jumped one point ahead of the idle London Nationals.

Parker Butler made 29 saves for the victory.

The Maroons were protecting a 3-1 lead when linemates Barraclough and Derynck scored 12 seconds apart early in the third period.  “Our line doesn’t score much, but to get two goals in one shift is pretty sweet,” Derynck said.

Devin Panzeca, Nolan VandenBoorn and Chris Corgan have all spent time on that line lately. It was Corgan’s turn Sunday and he picked up two assists.

Barraclough’s goal ended an 18-game scoring drought for the 16-year-old rookie. He matched a career-high with two points, raising his total to eight.  “I hope it keeps going up,” he said. “I think that would be awesome. Me and Blair have been playing well the last few games. With Chris on our line tonight, he put a jump in our step. Our line had a lot of energy.”

Their line normally provides a spark by making big hits and playing well defensively. Getting two goals from the fourth line was an unexpected bonus.  “It really pumps the guys up,” Barraclough said. “It’s not usually our role to score the goals, but when we do, it’s awesome. All our lines are producing right now. We’re coming together as a team in the home stretch.”

The Maroons’ winning streak comes after a month-long stretch when they had trouble stringing wins together.

Now that the roster is set, Derynck figures those inconsistent days are in the past.  “We were getting a few new guys here and there,” he said. “It was throwing off our chemistry. But now everyone is playing well, we’re all clicking and we’re flying out there. The best part is we’re winning.”

T.J. Harris of the Rockets scored on a power play for a 1-1 tie at the first intermission, but the Maroons netted the next four goals.

Dillon Saunders also scored for the Rockets, whose previous seven games went to overtime. Dan Davies made 30 saves.

NOTES: The Maroons have clinched a playoff berth. … Derynck and Ross Krieger each had two points. … Chatham was 1-for-7 and Strathroy was 1-for-3 on the power play. … The Maroons will visit Sarnia on Thursday and host the first-place Leamington Flyers on Sunday at 7 p.m. … Dede Cato served the second game of his three-game suspension.

David Honsberger

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