The Okanagan Rockets earned a hard fought 3-1 win over the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs to open up the Pacific region midget final Friday evening at the Red Deer Arena.
Special teams proved massive in Game 1 as the Rockets struck for a pair of power play markers while holding the Chiefs to just a single goal on seven chances.
Tanner Campbell, Tyson Jost and Tanner Wishnowski all had goals for the Rockets who had period leads of 1-0 and 3-0 before the Chiefs got on the board with 6:50 remaining in the 3rd period to make things interesting.
Brendan Barry was named the game star in the contest for the Rockets and it was a well-deserved honour. Barry stopped 32 of 33 including 12 of 13 in the 3rd period to win his 4th straight playoff start. Going back to the BCMML championship finals, Barry has now stopped 110 of the last 115 shots the Giants and Chiefs have directed his way. Add it up, and you have a sparkling 95.6 save percentage.
The atmosphere in the jam packed Red Deer Arena was electric and the Rockets did well to weather the early storm said head coach Mack O’Rourke. “We knew we had to come out with a composed start, there was lots of excitement and energy, but once the game got rolling I thought we settled in nicely. Getting that power play goal from Campbell to open the scoring was big for us.”
The Rockets are now a single win away from their first Telus Cup appearance. General manager David Michaud cautions that the work is only just getting started. “Any clinching win is going to be a tough task. There is an awful lot of championship experience on the other bench and we fully expect Red Deer to come hard after it tomorrow.”
Game 2 is set for 6 p.m. pacific time from the Red Deer Arena. The Rockets will be the designated “home” team in the contest, meaning the Rockets will have last change.