An 8-5 win by the Strathroy Rockets over the visiting St. Thomas Stars at the West Middlesex Memorial Centre on Saturday, Jan. 14, moved the Rockets three points ahead of both the Stars and the St. Marys Lincolns in Western Conference action of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. The sixth place Rockets trail the fifth place Sarnia Legionnaires by 8 points. The Stars had expectations of moving past the Rockets in the standings with a regulation time win, however, the Stars have struggled greatly on the road this year winning just twice away from the Timkin Centre.

On Wednesday, Jan. 11, the Rockets dropped a 6-2 decision at the Vollmer Recreation Complex to the first place LaSalle Vipers.

The Rockets led this contest by a 2-0 score in the second period but allowed the Vipers to tally six unanswered goals.

Mark Bastow (8) got the Rockets on the board with 18 seconds remaining in the opening period. Rocket netminder Zack Weir kept his team in the game as the Rockets were outshot 22-8.

Cody Schneider (15) put the Rockets up 2-0 burying a rebound at 6:26.

A pair of Viper goals by Tyler Russell and Brett Primeau late in the period sent the two teams to the second intermission deadlocked at 2-2. The Vipers outshot the Rockets 15-10 in the middle frame.

The Vipers added four third period goals on just 11 shots and coasted to the 6-2 win. Primeau completed his hat trick with a pair of goals while Nathan Savage and Zack Hoffman added singles. Third period shots were 11-7 for the Vipers.

Dershahn Stewart picked up the win in goal for LaSalle while Weir, despite the valiant effort, was pegged with the loss. The Rockets were outshot 48-25.

The Rockets were 0 for 3 on the powerplay while the Vipers were successful on 1 of 3 chances.

There were some new faces in the lineup for the Rockets. The Rockets acquired goaltender Carson Poulin from the Stratford Warriors. The move was necessary as netminder Dan Davies wished to return to his hometown of Dundas to play Junior C. The Rockets also added right winger Michael Wood. Wood, who was studying at the University of Western Ontario, had taken the year off from hockey. He played the previous season for Upper Canada College and is the brother of Rocket defenseman Chris Wood. The Rockets also sent defenseman Connor Mullins to the Pelham Panthers.

Saturday at the WMMC, the Rockets used a balanced attack and some timely scoring to down the St. Thomas Stars. All four Rocket lines scored twice and goaltender Carson Poulin made his Rocket debut to earn the win.

Despite being outshot 16-8 in the opening period, the Rockets headed to the first intermission with a 2-0 lead on defenseman Braeden Bowers (1) first career Rocket goal and a powerplay marker by Cody Schneider (16). Bowers’ point shot changed direction after hitting a Star player while Schneider poked the puck over the goal line on a wild scramble in front of the Star goal.

The two teams erupted for a wild second period combining for 7 goals, with the Rockets notching four of them. After Star Brendan Cherwalk cut the Rocket lead to 2-1 on a breakaway after a bad turnover at the Rocket blueline, Rocket captain Lucas Latina (10) buried a centering pass from Mark Bastow 10 seconds later to put the Rockets up 3-1.

When Christian Clarke pulled the Stars back to within a goal with a great individual effort, Matthew Stevens (5) was the recipient of a Max Ewart set up 26 seconds later on a 2-on-1 opportunity to restore the Rocket two-goal lead to 4-2. Stevens’ goal brought an end to Star netminder Dan Black’s night. He allowed 4 goals on 16 shots. Cooper Seedott came on in relief. Seedott allowed 2 goals on 4 second period shots.

St. Thomas’ Adam Keyes made the score 4-3 on the powerplay only with a slick play at the side of the net only to see the Rockets’ Bastow (9) put the Rockets up 5-3 just 2:13 later. Newcomer Michael Wood (1) scored his first Rocket goal with a blast from the high slot 32 seconds later and the Rockets led 6-3 after two periods.

Both clubs tallied two third period goals. The game continued to follow a similar pattern with the Stars scoring first and the Rockets quickly answering.

The Stars swarmed the Rocket zone to begin the third period and were rewarded for their efforts at 6:54 with a Dane Johnstone goal. Dillon Saunders (5) responded 42 seconds later to put Strathroy up 7-4. Keyes scored his second of the game to give the Stars some hope at 17:08 but Tristan Sedlak (4) potted an empty net marker to secure the Rocket win. Third period shots favoured the Stars 22-8.

Seven different Rocket players earned two points in the game. Clarke and Keyes each had 3-point nights for the Stars.

Seedott was the goaltender of record for the Stars, allowing 4 goals on 12 shots. Poulin went the distance for the Rockets allowing 5 goals while facing 56 shots. The Stars won 48 of 84 faceoffs (57.1%)

Many of the Stars’ shots came on the powerplay. The Stars went 1 for 7 with the man advantage while the Rockets were 1 for 3.

Winger Derek Shaw saw his first action with the Rockets. Shaw plays with the Dresden Jr. C Kings. He played on a line with Mark Bastow and Lucas Latina.

Schneider was selected as the Poag Jewelers Player of the Month for December. The Strathroy and District Chamber of Commerce were the Corporate Sponsors for the night.

The Rockets will be playing a home and home series this week with the Leamington Flyers. On Thursday, Jan. 18, the Rockets will be at the Highbury Canco Arena in Leamington and then host the Flyers on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the WMMC. The 1996-97 Rocket championship team will be honoured prior to the game to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

(photo credit – Colleen Wiendels Photography)

David Honsberger

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