STRATHROY ROCKETS STUN LEAMINGTON FLYERS 5-4 TO END 13-GAME LOSING STREAK

Rockets Stun Flyers 5-4 To End 13 Game Losing Streak – by C. Scott Holland

For some strange reason the Strathroy Rockets seem to like coming to the Highbury Canco arena on Free Pizza Slice Day (courtesy of Domino’s Pizza Canada and their Leamington area franchises). A year ago the Rockets came to play the Flyers on a day with the same event and won 2-0 in front of a near capacity crowd of over 2,400. On Thursday they made their last visit as over 2,100 fans were on hand. The strangest thing might have occurred after pre-game workouts when Spencer Allen asked a Flyers volunteer where he could get the free pizza. Allen was one of the heroes of the game which Strathroy won 5-4 thanks to four third period goals.

For 40 minutes the Flyers played with poise and control leading 1-0 and 3-1. But the third period turned into a shootout scenario where every shot on net was valuable. And it was Spencer “”where’s The Pizza?” Allen who started and finished the biggest Rockets’ victory of the campaign.

Both teams entered the contest looking for the valuable two ;points. Strathroy because they wanted to vault ahead a bit further from St.Marys and Leamington because they were two back of second place LaSalle and the loss combined with Sarnia’s win over Komoka left the Flyers and Legionnaires tied.

It did not take the Flyers long to spot themselves a 1-0 lead as Nathan Skulley blasted a shot from the right lane which caromed off Rocket starter Josh Diamond’s glove at 7:59. During the opening frame alone the Flyers had numerous opportunities to shovels pucks past Diamond but did not increase the score.

The game’s intensity heated up in the second as the Flyers asserted puck control. At 1:52 a costly too many men penalty to Strathroy allowed Skulley and Dalton Langlois to feed Kenny Styles. Styles’ left lane drive zipped past Diamond for a 2-o lead. The game’s highlight was certainly the toe-to-toe battle between Flyer Nathan Skulley and Rocket Braden Bowers. With helmet discarded Skulley levelled a series of punches to Bowers who managed to get a few licks in himself before the refs halted the action. Both players were ushered off ice with five-minute fighting majors and game misconducts. Not long after that Styles took a slashing penalty which the Flyers killed but seconds after it expired Brady MacDonald and Emmett Pierce who slid the puck to Spencer Allen who was open and batted it past Flyer starter Connor Meyerink. With some resolve the Flyers continued to forge ahead and were rewarded by another goal at 18:17 when Maddux Rychel and Blake Bain hooked passes with Griffin Robinson who cannoned a shot that dinged off the post and into the cage for a 3-1 lead.

In the final frame some of the game physicality was abandoned as both squads raced end-to-end and tried to get the next all-important tally. Strathroy received that break and used it as a springboard while the Flyers never recovered from the game being tightened. At 2:04 Emmett Pierce knocked in a loose puck on a goalmouth scramble and a minute later Rocket forward TJ Harris lofted a high left wing shot as two Flyers’ defensemen collided with other while trying to stop the play. But Harris’ shot sailed past Meyerink to suddenly make it a 3-3 contest. At that juncture the game’s complexion changed. The Rockets drove hard but it was the Flyers who broke the deadlock. Levi Tetrault assisted on Zach Guilbeault’s go-ahead marker at 6:15. However, it was the Flyers’ captain who may have helped the Rockets more than his own team. Near the 11:41 mark Strathroy AP Hunter Monkhouse appeared to charge Guilbeault but made a fairly clean check. Play was halted seconds later and as both neared to their benches Guilbeault reacted by spearing Monkhouse. The Flyers’ captain was sideline for 4 minutes and assessed a 10-minute misconduct for inciting. It took the Rockets only seven seconds to reap the benefit and knot the game as Emmett Pierce struck for his second tally of the night. The Flyers defended the other two minutes of the penalty but failed to generate any more goals. With the score tied Spencer Allen made a solo dash down the left wing and tallied the game winner with a shot from behind the goal line that caught Meyerink off guard at 15:58. Leamington pulled Meyerink for an extra attacker with two minutes left and penetrated the Rockets’ zone. But too many passes and not enough shots may have cost them the chance to tie the contest and go to overtime. Instead the clock ticked down and the Rockets ended a 13-game losing skid while Josh Diamond got his first Jr. victory.

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