The Rockets and the Maroons met for the first time in a highly anticipated match since the Rockets’ humiliating record-setting 14-0 loss in Chatham on October 15.  It was the franchise’s biggest shutout loss on the road in team history.  Although the Rockets were able to diminish the damage, the Maroons still skated home with another 2 points and a 5-3 win.  A large crowd of 343 fans came to witness the spectacle.

The first period was a fast, heavy hitting, evenly matched affair which featured some solid goaltending from Strathroy native Josh Diamond (0-4) in the Rockets’ net and the Maroons’ Ryan Wagner.  Diamond was looking for not only his first career Rocket win but some retribution on the Maroons who pumped 10 goals past him in 2 periods in their first meeting.  It was Diamond’s first start since October 12 giving Zack Weir a much needed rest after starting the Rockets’ 9 previous contests. Although the Rocket netminder was unable to earn the win he did gain the respect of the Maroons by making many outstanding saves, especially on talented prospect Jordan Frasca.

The Maroons earned the win by virtue of superior special teams and a 4-goal second period in which they outshot the Rockets 18-8.  Chatham led 5-0 after two periods before the Rockets dominated the Maroons in a 3-goal third period in which they outshot Chatham 18-9.  The Maroons’ fifth best GOJHL powerplay clicked on 2 of 6 chances on 7 shots while the Rockets were blanked on 3 chances with only 3 shots on goal.

Bryce Yetman, who led all Maroons with 6 shots on goal, tallied the only goal of the opening stanza when he beating Diamond’s trapper with a shot to the top corner. Chatham led 3-0 by 3:46 of the second period with a pair of highlight reel tic-tac-toe plays with Eric Carter and Steven Fowler being the triggermen that gave Diamond no chance for a save.  Grant Spence added a pair of goals before the end on the period after some relentless forechecking by the Maroons.

In the third period the Maroons stopped skating and back-checking and were guilty of floating in the neutral zone looking for offensive scoring opportunities – but this was to be no 14-0 game.  The diligent Rockets responded with a pair of goals by defenseman Andrew Bugeja, with this first career Rocket goal and point, and Tristan Sedlak by 8:30.  Fearing a third period Rocket comeback, Maroon coach Ron Horvat called a timeout to try to get his team back on track.  The timeout was ineffective as the Rockets continued to press.  Spencer Allen notched the Rockets’ final goal just beating the final buzzer on a rebound after Wagner made a stellar stop on a TJ Harris breakaway.

Final shots favoured Chatham 42-41.  The Maroons won 51 of 86 faceoffs (59.3%).  Liam Whittaker led all Rockets with 6 shots on goal.  Cameron Rombouts and Harris each had 5.  The loss extended the Rockets winless streak to 9 games.  With defenseman Brady Hogg and forward Jeff Williams reassigned to Dresden Jr. C and forward Ty Glover returning to AAA the Rockets ultilized a pair of call-ups in Adrian Franklin and Hunter Monkhouse.  Both players played a physical, intense game and each finished the night with a pair of shots on goal.

(photo credit – Colleen Weindels Photography – Rockets facebook)

David Honsberger

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