The Okanagan Rockets couldn’t find a way to claw back on Saturday afternoon against the Cariboo Cougars, falling by a 3-1 score in Kelowna.
The Cougars got the early jump on the Rockets, outplaying them for the first half of the frame and it resulted in the opening goal. A shot from the blue line by Chris Jandric was knocked down by a number of bodies in the slot but the follow-up shot by Devin Sutton beat Rockets goalie Cole Demers on his glove side to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The Rockets responded with the tying goal just under four minutes later at the 12:10 mark of the period and it came from a point shot. Powell Connor put a shot on from the blue line and the puck found it’s way past Cougar net minder Dorrin Luding (with a little help from the post) for his 3rd goal of the season and a 1-1 tie after a physical 1st period between the two long time rivals.
The physical play and playoff-like atmosphere continued in period number two while the Cougars were the only team to find the back of the net in the frame. After a pinballing shot toward goal by Jeremy Gervais, Josh Maser got the last whack at the puck and found the back of the net for a 2-1 Cariboo lead at the 10:47 mark of the 2nd period.
That would be the only goal of the middle stanza despite the Rockets best efforts, throwing 16 shots toward goal in the 2nd period but Cariboo net minder Dorrin Luding stood tall, including a pair of occasions that the Rockets found iron.
The Rockets and Cougars battled it out for every inch in the 3rd period but the Rockets fell short in finding an equalizer. Trey Thomas would add an empty netter for the Cougars with 39 seconds left to seal a 3-1 victory for the visitors.
Dorrin Luding started for the Cougars and was outstanding, making 34 saves on 35 shots and was tough to beat all day long. Cole Demers saw the crease for the Rockets and was solid as well, making 29 saves on 31 shots.
The Rockets (23-11-5) wrap up their 2015/16 regular season schedule tomorrow morning when they take on the Cariboo Cougars (28-8-3) in the 2nd and final game of the weekend series. If you can’t make it to CNC, the games can be seen live on www.playfullscreen.com.