The good vibes of an opening-game victory for the Okanagan Rockets on Friday night quickly dissipated on Saturday at the Red Deer Arena.
Jeff Dewitt scored at 1:35 of the opening period to set the tone, as the Red Deer Chiefs drubbed the Rocckets 7-1 in Game 2 of the best-of-three Pacific regional midget hockey final.
The third and deciding game for a berth to the Telus Cup will be played Sunday afternoon.
The Chiefs would push their lead to 3-0 with two crippling goals in the final minute of the opening period. Dewitt scored his 2nd of the game at 19:12, then just 23 seconds later Teagan Kooman send the Rockets to the dressing room reeling.
To their credit, the Rockets game out with a renewed focus in the second stanza and were rewarded just 4:34 into the period as Branden Wagner was credited for his first of the series to make it 3-1. Wagner put the puck in on Chiefs goalie Jayden Sittler and it went straight up in the air. On the way down, a Chiefs defenceman inadvertently knocked the puck past Sittler.
The Chiefs put the game away in the 3rd period which saw the Rockets allow 3 goals in the span of just 39 seconds to make it a 6-1 game. Brendan Barry was replaced by Reid Kilburn at that point after he allowed 6 goals on 41 shots. Putting it lightly, Barry didn’t receive much help on this night. Reid Kilburn completed the game’s final 9 minutes and stopped 10 of 11 shots.
“There isn’t a whole lot of time to sit here and be negative about this game. We will wake up and go to work again tomorrow,” said Rockets bench boss Mack O’Rourke. “Nobody said that this was going to be easy and I’m very confident that our group learned some good hard lessons here tonight, we will be better tomorrow.”
While the Rockets have let the Chiefs off the mat so to speak, it wasn’t all that long ago they were in a similar position. “We didn’t have a very good game two against the Valley West Hawks in our league semi-finals either,” said O’Rourke. “We rebounded and won a heck of game 3 in that series.”
Over the span of 69 hockey games this season, the Rockets have yet to lose on back to back occasions. With a birth in the national finals at stake, the Rockets are hoping that is a trend that continues.
Game 3 is set for 1 p.m pacific time Sunday.