Mathematically, it wasn’t a must-win scenario for the B.C. Major Midget League’s Okanagan Rockets.
Still, Sunday’s come-from-behind effort against the Valley West Hawks could go a long way in determining the Rockets playoff future.
After losing to the Hawks Saturday at CNC—a team they trailed by three points in the standings when the weekend began—the Rockets were down 4-2 in the second period on Sunday morning and looked ripe to be swept.
But Okanagan rallied with five unanswered goals—the second coming 15 seconds into the third period—to post a crucial 7-4 win.
“James Eccles and Brady Mason challenged our players, and they responded beautifully,” said Rockets general manager David Michaud. “It seems that every game is a big one for our team, but this one had an even larger significance. The difference between three points and seven points is obviously huge.”
The Rockets top line of Parker Bowles, Brett Mennear and Harlan Orr did the majority of the damage with five goals and five assists. Mennear and Orr each notched a pair for the Rockets who got singles from Bowles, Mackenzie Ferner, and Josh Ellis.
Brenden Mills replaced starter Harrison Whitlock after 40 minutes and shut the door for the Rockets stopping all 12 shots in the third. Mills improved to 7-5-3 with the victory. Whitlock turned aside 14 of 18 during the two periods.
On Saturday, the Hawks posted a 4-2 win over the Rockets.
Orr and Bowles spotted Okanagan to an early 2-0 lead, before Valley West responded with four unanswered goals for the win.
Heading into the Christmas break, the Rockets (10-9-5) occupy the sixth and final playoff spot and are three points back of the Hawks.
Nipping at the Rockets heels are North Island and Fraser Valley, each just one point back.
Meanwhile, the Rockets will leave Christmas day for Calgary at the 2012 version of the prestigious Mac’s International Midget Tournament.
Okanagan will play games against the Calgary Buffaloes, Leduc, Alta., Prince Albert, Sask., and York, Ont.
The Rockets return to BCMML action Jan. 7 and 8 at home to the Kootenay Ice.
• U17 Challenge
While the Okanagan Rockets head to Calgary their manager, David Michaud, will be on his way to Windsor, Ont., for the World U17 Challenge.
Michaud is serving as the assistant director of operations for Team Pacific.
The Pacific roster includes a pair of Kelowna Rockets: defenceman Jesse Lees and forward Tyson Baillie.
One other Rocket, Madison Bowey, will play for Team West.
The U17 Challenge runs Dec. 29 to Jan. 4 and features five regional teams from Canada, along with the U.S., Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden and Germany.