ST. THOMAS STARS’ KEVIN HU TRICKS THE STRATHROY ROCKETS

The following night at the WMMC the Rockets ran into a much tougher adversary in the St. Thomas Stars.  Despite a valiant comeback attempt the Rockets suffered their second 4-2 setback of the week.  The win moved the Stars to within 2 points of the first place Leamington Flyers and London Nationals.

The Stars were paced by the GOJHL goal scoring leader Kevin Hu who tallied 3 of St. Thomas’ 4 goals.  The Rockets’ penalty killing showed great improvement blanking the high scoring Stars on 7 powerplay opportunities moving the Rockets up two notches in the GOJHL ranking.  The Rockets converted 1 of 3 chances.  The Stars had 10 powerplay shots on goal while the Rockets had 4.

The Stars’ blasted out of the gate outscoring the Rockets 3-0 and outshooting them 18-2 in the opening period.  The Rockets would rally in the final 2 periods outshooting the Stars 2-1 but the 3-goal deficit was too much for the Rockets to overcome on this night in front of 332 fans.

St. Thomas got quickly on the scoreboard when Adam Keyes spotted an unmarked Hu in front of Rocket goaltender Zack Weir just 65 seconds into the contest.  Cal Horvat increased the lead to 2-0 at 11:45 on a beautiful passing play on the rush with Mason Millman and Justin Badour before Hu converted another Keyes setup at 13:00 to give the Stars their 3-0 first period lead.

The Rockets came out with a better effort in the slower paced second period as the Stars tried to defend their lead.  Rocket scoring leader TJ Harris tallied on the powerplay to cut the lead to 3-1 at 7:58.  Harris dominated the Stars with his physical presence landing several solid body checks.  Stars led 9-7 in shots.

The Stars restored their 3-goal lead and Hu completed his hat trick with a dazzling shorthanded effort with Keyes at 5:26.  It was Hu’s 20th goal of the season.  Rombouts got that one back at 12:46 but the Rockets ran out of time and were unable to complete their comeback.  The Rockets outshot the Stars 10-8 in the final period.  The Stars held a 35-19 advantage over the 3 periods.

Anthony Hurtibise (9-5) earned the win.  Weir, despite an All-Star season, dropped to 7-13-1-0.   Spencer Allen led all Rockets with 5 shots on goal.  Harris and Pierce had 3 each.  Hu led the Stars with 8 shots.  Defenseman Curtis Ferreira had 4 shots.  The Stars led in faceoffs 49-28 (63.6%).  With Brady MacDonald suspended the Rockets dressed just 5 defensemen.  After Liam Whittaker was sent to the showers at 8:57 of the second period with a major penalty for a check from behind, the Rockets were down to only 4 defensemen for over half of the game.  Rearguards Bugeja, Liam Isreals, Aidan Burns and Braeden Bowers put in a diligent, hard-working effort.  After finishing the month of October with a 2-8-1-1 record the Rockets went 2-5 in November.  Underage standout Pierce led the Rockets in November in goals with 5 and assists with 5 for 10 points.

The Rockets will host the LaSalle Vipers at the WMMC on Saturday, December 2 before travelling to Chatham the following night to play the sixth place Maroons.

(photo credit – Colleen Wiedels Photogrpahy – Rocket facebook)

David Honsberger

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