One step closer
The North Dundas Rockets welcomed the Vankleek Hill Cougars to the Chesterville Arena on Sat., March 3, for game five of the best of seven NCJHL quarterfinals. The Rockets led the series 3-1 and had a chance to close it out with a win. The Rockets took a 2-0 lead in the game and celebrated at the bench. The Rockets went on to defeat the Cougars 4-2 and win the series 4-1.     Sawyer Helmer photo

Jeff Moore
Record Staff
CHESTERVILLE – The North Dundas Rockets needed just two games over the weekend to oust the Vankleek Hill Cougars from the NCJHL playoffs as they travelled to Vankleek Hill on Friday night and welcomed the Cougars on Saturday night in front of a sold-out raucous crowd.

Rockets 8 Cougars 2: The Rockets welcomed the Vankleek Hill Cougars to the Chesterville Arena on Sat., March 3, for game five of the best of seven NCJHL quarterfinals. The Rockets led the series 3-1 after taking game four in overtime in Vankleek Hill the previous night and looked to put the Cougars away with a win.

The Cougars needed to play a tight defensive style to contain the run and gun Rockets to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The two teams battled to a scoreless first period with the Rockets leading in the shot count 10-9.

The Rockets opened the scoring at 4:13 of the second period as Connor Roth snapped one home from Justin Lefebvre and Shawns Simms to take a 1-0 lead. The Rockets made it 2-0 when Tom Fingler pounded one home from Bryden Van Kessel at 10:38 on the power play.

With time winding down in the middle frame, the Cougars took a late penalty and the Rockets capitalized as Fingler scored his second of the game from Van Kessel and Matt Cowley with just 44 seconds remaining.

The Rockets took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission. The Rockets took a commanding 4-0 lead at 9:40 of the third period when Roth scored his second of the game from Cowley and Lefebvre. The Cougars mounted a comeback as Ryan Allen slid one home from Marc Antoine Doyon at 11:05 and got to within two at 15:17 on the power play as Hugo Blanchard scored from Riley Sauve and Allen on the power play.

The Rockets’ defence held the Cougars at bay for the remainder of the third period taking the game 4-2 and the series 4-1. Picking up the win in the Rockets’ goal was Jason Buma making 26 saves on 28 shots and suffering the loss in the Cougars’ goal was Dominick Turcotte making 45 saves on 49 shots.

Rockets 4 Cougars 3: The Rockets travelled to the Vankleek Hill Arena on Fri., March 2, to take on the Cougars for game four of the best of seven NCJHL quarterfinals. The Rockets took game one with a 7-2 victory but the Cougars tied the series in game two with a 4-1 win at home. The Rockets won game three in Chesterville 5-1 and led the series two games to one heading into this game.

The Cougars opened the scoring when Nikolas Castonguay scored a short-handed goal at 7:32 of the first period taking a 1-0 lead. The Rockets got that one back on the power play as Bryden Van Kessel slid one home from Brodie Barkley and Connor Roth with just 2:02 remaining in the opening frame.

The Cougars caught the Rockets sleeping as they made it 2-0 with just 1:08 remaining as Tyler Druce scored from Charles Doyon. The Cougars took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. The Cougars made it 3-1 when Byron Lavictoire scored at 5:27 of the second period from Druce.

The Rockets battled hard to get to within one but the buzzer sounded with the Cougars taking a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. The Rockets got to within one as Tom Fingler snapped one to the back of the net from Roth and Matt Cowley at 4:55 of the third period.

The Rockets knotted the affair when Brad Stitt sniped one from Jack Van Kessel and Cowley at 11:49. With the game tied at two, neither team was able to find the game-winning goal in regulation so the game headed to a 10-minute overtime frame.

The Rockets ended the game just 40 seconds into the extra frame as Justin Lefebvre blasted one home from Shawn Simms and Cowley as the Rockets took the game 4-3 and a 3-1 series lead. With the win, the Rockets are just one win away from moving on to the semifinals. Picking up the win in the Rockets’ goal was Reilly Tondreau.

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