Captain Mitchell Gove scored three times in a win and a tie for the Okanagan Rockets prior to the holiday break. -Image: Douglas Farrow

Okanagan Rockets hit break in top four

Undermanned Rockets pick up three points in Victoria in last BCMML games prior to Christmas

With a roster depleted by injuries, illness and WHL call-ups, the Okanagan Rockets still managed three of a possible four points in their final B.C. Major Midget League games prior to the Christmas break.

With seven regulars missing on Saturday and eight on Sunday, the Rockets picked up a win and a tie on the road against the South Island Royals.

“That’s kind of been the theme for us all season, every week we’ve had guys out of the lineup so we’ve had to find ways to adjust,” said Rockets general manager Patrick Bobyn. “Teams in our league all have ups and downs like that, it’s how well you adapt. All in all, I’d say we’ve coped pretty well.”

In a 6-0 win Saturday in Saanich, the Rockets were without Ben King (Swift Current) and Jack Finley (Spokane) and Roman Basran (Kelowna), all of whom were with their respective WHL clubs, as well as Ethan Schaeffer, Nolan Corrado and Palmer Jenkins due to injury.

Alex Jansen, making his first major midget league start, stopped 22 shots for the shutout.

Captain Mitchell Gove and Rayman Bassi scored twice each for the Rockets, while Brandon Della Paolera and Brendan Boyle added singles.

On Sunday in Shawnigan Lake, with Benn Krivoshen joining the absentee list due to the flu, the Rockets settled for a 2-2 tie with the Royals. Netminder Cole Schwebius made a big save for the Rockets with just over a minute to play to help get his team into to overtime.

Boyle and Gove scored for the Rockets who reach the Christmas break with a (11-9-3-1) record, good for fourth in the 11-team league, one point up on the Vancouver Northwest Giants and Greater Vancouver Canadians

Included in their record is one win apiece over the league’s top two teams, the Valley West Hawks and Cariboo Cougars.

“We’re right about where we expected we’d be,” Bobyn said of his team’s position heading into Christmas. “We’re a younger than average team so knew there would be a bit of an adjustment. There’s a lot of parity in the league where any team can beat any other on a given night.

“Those teams (Hawks and Cougars) are the benchmark right now and we’ve shown we can play with them,” Bobyn added. “(Head coach) Eric (Blais) and the staff have been stressing to our guys to be committed by bringing their best game for the entire weekend when we play. Hopefully we’ll do that more consistently over the last part of the season.”

Traditionally, the Rockets would be preparing for a trip to Calgary for the annual Mac’s International Midget Tournament, but just missed the cut this year.

Bobyn said the club will look to play an exhibition game or two to stay sharp over the holidays.

The Rockets return to BCMML action Jan. 12 and 13 at home to the Vancouver North East Chiefs.

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