The Rockets’ star defenseman Bryden Van Kessel scored two goals and picked up two helpers to lead the way to a 5-1 Rockets’ victory. The Chesterville native was named the NCJHL’s regular season MVP and best defenseman for the second consecutive year. O’Donohue photo
CHESTERVILLE – The North Dundas Rockets began their playoff run in the best of seven series.
Rockets 5 Cougars 1: The Rockets welcomed the Vankleek Hill Cougars to the Chesterville Arena on Sun., Feb. 25, for game three of the best of seven NCJHL quarterfinals. The Rockets took game one 7-2 but the Cougars evened the series the previous night with a 4-1 victory.
The two teams battled to a scoreless first period with the Rockets outshooting the Cougars 11-7. The Cougars opened the scoring at 12:51 of the second period to take a 1-0 lead.
The Rockets outshot the Cougars 14-8 but trailed 1-0 heading into the second intermission. The Rockets took the game over in the third period as Bryden Van Kessel scored a short-handed unassisted goal at 4:53 to tie the game at one.
Van Kessel scored his second of the game at the six-minute mark from Landon Veenstra to give the Rockets their first lead of the game.
The Rockets made it a 3-1 game when Justin Lefebvre snapped one home from Van Kessel and Ryan Carbonette on the power play at 7:12. The Rockets added another power-play goal at 9:26 as Lefebvre struck again from Tom Fingler and Brodie Barkley to make it 4-1.
The Rockets made it 5-1 at 14:30 as Fingler fired one home from Lefebvre and Van Kessel on another power play. The Rockets hung on for a 5-1 victory taking a 2-1 series lead as they head back to Vankleek Hill for game four.
Picking up the win in the Rockets’ goal was Reilly Tondreau making 18 saves on 19 shots.
Cougars 4 Rockets 1: The Rockets travelled to the Vankleek Hill Arena on Sat., Feb. 24, to take on the Cougars in game two of the best of seven NCJHL quarterfinals. The Rockets took the opener 7-2 but the game was close until the second half of the third period when the Rockets exploded for four goals and they looked to carry that momentum into game two.
The Cougars opened the scoring at 16:12 of the first period on the power play taking a 1-0 lead. With time winding down in the first period, the Rockets tied the game as Tom Fingler sniped one from Chris Marchand and Matt Cowley with just 55 seconds remaining.
The teams took a one-all draw into the first intermission. The Cougars took their second lead of the game at 8:50 and took a two-goal lead at 12:07 on the power play. The Cougars took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
The Rockets’ offence just couldn’t get the puck to the back of the net but at 13:23 the Cougars clicked for their fourth goal of the game. The Rockets pounded rubber at the Cougars’ goalie Sebastien Moreau but could not get one to cross the line as the Cougars took the game 4-1.
With the win, the Cougars tie the series at one as they head back to Chesterville for game three. Suffering the loss in the Rockets’ goal was Jason Buma.
Rockets 7 Cougars 2: The Rockets welcomed the Vankleek Hill Cougars to the Chesterville Arena on Fri., Feb. 23, for game one of the best of seven NCJHL playoffs. The Rockets won their last three games of the regular season to secure second place in their last game. The Cougars finished in 10th place and had a two-game mini series against the Morrisburg Lions.
With the win over the Lions and the South Grenville’s upset win over the Metcalfe Jets, the Cougars moved up to seventh to earn the right to play against the second-place Rockets. The Rockets opened the scoring at 4:30 of the first period as Connor Roth scored a short-handed goal unassisted to make it 1-0.
The Cougars knotted the affair at one at 9:51. The teams took a one-all draw into the first intermission despite the Rockets outshooting the Cougars 17-9. The Rockets made it 2-1 when Roth netted his second of the game from Tom Fingler and Bryden Van Kessel just 1:24 into the second period.
The Cougars got even again at 7:09 but with just 53 seconds remaining in the middle frame the Rockets’ Chris Marchand bulged the twine from Roth and took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
It was all Rockets in the third period and it started with Van Kessel as he drilled one home from McKay Balaton at 8:09 of the third period to make it 4-2. The NCJHL’s Rookie of the Year Justin Lefebvre sniped one from Brad Stitt and Brodie Barkley at 11:36 to give the Rockets a 5-2 lead.
The Rockets were not finished quite yet as Van Kessel potted his second of the game from Matt Cowley and Tom Fingler at 15:04 and closed out the scoring when Shawn Simms scored an unassisted goal at 16:35. The Rockets took game one of the best of seven buy a score of 7-2. Picking up the win in the Rockets’ goal was Jason Buma making 30 saves on 32 shots.
Up next: Game four in best of seven series: Fri., Mar. 2, 8 p.m., Rockets vs. Cougars, Vankleek Hill; Game 5: Sat., Mar. 3, 7:30 p.m., Rockets vs. Cougars, Chesterville Arena; Game six: Sun., Mar. 4, 3:30 p.m., Rockest vs. Cougars, Vankleek Hill.