The Strathroy Rockets snapped a 9-game winless streak in a big way with an unexpected and stunning 5-4 victory over the second place London Nationals at the Western Fair on Wednesday, November 8.  The win over the Nats moved the Rockets into a seventh place tie with the Komoka Kings.  Both clubs lead the last place St. Marys Lincolns by 2 points.

At the Western Fair the Rockets handed the Nationals just their second loss at home this season.  For the Rockets it was their first road win since a 4-3 victory in St. Thomas on September 15.  Besides snapping a 9-game winless streak, the Rockets upended a super hot London squad that had just one regulation time loss in their previous 11 games.

The Rockets wasted little time pushing the Nationals back on their heels with a pair of goals by Cameron Rombouts and Emmet Pierce by 5:45.  The 603 London fans were silenced watching Nat goaltender David Ovsjannikov surrender two early goals.  The recently acquired 6’ 6”, 229 lb netminder from the Czech Republic is a 3-year OHL veteran with Saginaw and Barrie.  He entered the game boasting a sparking 1.96 GAA and a 92.6 S%.  The regulation time loss was his first in 6 starts with the Nationals.  Brett Primeau cut the Rocket lead to 2-1 late in the opening period with a powerplay marker.  London has the number one powerplay in the entire GOJHL.  The Rockets’ penalty killing is ranked last.

Noah Campbell restored the Rockets’ 2-goal lead at 7:14 of the second period on the powerplay before a pair of London goals by James Turner and Matthew Shuckett sent the two teams into the second intermission tied at 3-3.  Turner’s goal came 8 seconds after the Campbell goal.

With less than three minutes remaining in regulation time it appeared as if the two battle-weary foes were heading towards overtime when the game took an unexpected and dramatic turn.   The Nats caught the Rockets on a poor line change and a pinching Isaiah Payne buried a one-timer past Zack Weir at 17:07 to give London their first lead of the game.  The Rockets then pulled their netminder for an extra attacker.  Standout defenseman Liam Whittaker made an outstanding play at the blueline stopping a National clearing attempt, stickhandled past a pair of London defenders and slipped the puck to TJ Harris who hooked a cross-crease pass to Micheal Wood who easily beat Ovsjannikov for the tying marker at 18:41.

With the final seconds ticking away a Harris blind turnaround shot from the high slot found its way into the right corner past a screened Ovsjannikov to give the Rockets the victory with 3.2 seconds remaining on the clock.  The goal ended a 9-game scoreless drought for the Rocket sniper after scoring 9 goals in his first 10 games.

The game featured another solid performance from Weir as the Rockets were outshot 44-27.  Both clubs clicked once on the powerplay.  The Rockets had 4 chances while the Nats had two.  London was outworked by the hustling Rockets setting up a rematch on Saturday, November 11 at the WMMC.  The Rockets will play in St. Marys the previous night.

David Honsberger

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