Story Contributed from Marc Smith: www.discovermoosejaw.com
The Okanagan Rockets remain undefeated at the 2014 Telus Cup, but they also remain winless after picking up a 1-1 tie against the Prince Albert Mintos on Wednesday afternoon.
“We knew that this was a marathon not a sprint and five games of challenging teams,” said David Michaud, general manager of the Rockets. “We came here with the idea of playing on Saturday and we’re still in good shape to make that happen.”
The Rockets have tied their first three games at the national championship, while Prince Albert won their first game and have now tied back-to-back games.
“We’re just taking it game-by-game and trying to work as hard as we can for the full sixty minutes,” said Ken Morrison, head coach of the Mintos. “I’m happy with the two ties, they’re points heading in the right direction, so you’ve got to look at the bright side.”
The defensive game played by the Mintos is something for them to take away from the game. They were able to keep the Rockets to the outside in the offensive zone and despite facing 32 shots, goalie Connor Ingram wasn’t tested too much.
“Our guys worked really hard, dug down, we got some good kills against a pretty skilled team with a good power play,” said Morrison. “It would be nice to try and take fewer penalties that’s for sure, but we did a good job killing.”
The penalty kill came up big for the Mintos during the second period when the Rockets had three straight power play opportunities, but failed to get much pressure on the goal.
“I haven’t seen our power play struggle like that in a long while,” said Michaud. “It’s been our bread and butter that we’ve won a lot of hockey games throughout the playoffs with. This is kind of a tailor-made win for us where we hold them down to just the one goal and have six power play opportunities, we probably would have liked to take advantage of it.”
Prince Albert finally broke the scoreless tie in the opening minute of the third period when Keegan Kjargaard beat Brendan Barry.
“Very happy with how the team played, started off really strong, a little lapse again in the second, but pulled through,” said Kjargaard, who now has two goals in the tournament. “We played a very good game.”
The ice tilted in the Mintos favour for a while after the goal, but the Rockets started to pressure for the equalizer and got it with just over six minutes to go when Gen Bryshun ripped a wrist shot past Ingram.
“These guys can skate, so we did a pretty good job angling,” said Morrison. “One of our defencemen got caught too close to the boards on their goal, but we didn’t really make that many mistakes defensively, so it was pretty good against a really good team.”
The Mintos have a 1-0-2 record through three games and will be back on the ice on Thursday night against the host Moose Jaw Generals. Okanagan has a 0-0-3 record and will square off with the Halifax McDonalds in the early game on Wednesday at 12:00pm.