The Okanagan Rockets couldn’t hang onto a third period lead as the Cariboo Cougars stormed back for a 6-4 victory Sunday morning in the final game of the 2015/16 regular season.
It was a special teams filled 1st period and the Cougars would get the advantage early on a PPG by Ethan O’Rourke. After a pass from Josh Maser from the left side, O’Rourke spun and found the back of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars would get ahead by two on another power play marker and it again came off the stick of O’Rourke. A pass from Darian Long found an open O’Rourke on the blocker side on goaltender Cole Demers and O’Rourke made no mistake finded the back of the net for the 2nd time in the game and a 2-0 Cariboo lead.
The Rockets would respond with a PPG of their own at the 14:40 mark of the opening frame. A goal mouth scramble just 13 seconds into the man advantage was banged home by Eli Zummack for his 13th of the season and a 2-1 Cariboo lead after the opening 20 minutes.
The Rockets would come to play in the 2nd frame and it all started 6:04 into the period on another power play. A shot from Danny Gatenby, that was deflected by Zummack, would be stopped by Cougar net minder Aaron Jakubowski but the rebound was swatted in by Coleton Bilodeau for his 6th goal of the season and a 2-2 tie.
The Rockets took their first lead of the weekend on a 5-on-3 man advantage and it was Eli Zummack who tallied his 2nd of the game. Eli walked out from the left circle and fired a shot past Jakubowski’s blocker side to give the Rockets a 3-2 lead on his 14th goal of the season.
Okanagan would add another before the period was out, this time a 5-on-5 goal, and it was Bilodeau again getting to the hard areas. A nice rush by Chase Stevenson resulted in a shot and a rebound where Bilodeau would bang the puck in for his 7th goal of the season and his 2nd of the game with 27 seconds left in the 2nd period to push the Rockets lead to 4-2.
The Cougars responded, and in a big way, in the 3rd and final regular season period, putting up four goals in the frame. Three goals were scored in the span of 6:16 with Daine Dubois (PPG), Jonas Harkins and Darian Long (PPG) getting those markers to push the Cougars back ahead by a 5-4 score. Ethan O’Rourke would add an empty netter with one second left for his hat trick and a 6-4 Cariboo Cougar victory.
Cole Demers started for the Rockets and made 37 saves on 42 shots while Aaron Jakubowski saw the crease for the Cougars today and turned aside 24 of the 28 shots he faced.
The Rockets (23-12-5) will begin their 2nd season as playoffs start in the BCMML on Friday night when Okanagan will take on the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds (16-14-9). Games times and venues are as follows for the best-of-three opening round series:
GAME #1: Friday, March 4th - Prospera Place (7:00 PM)
GAME #2: Saturday, March 5th - CNC #2 (5:15 PM)
*GAME #3: Sunday, March 6th - Prospera Place (1:30 PM)
As always the games can be seen live on www.playfullscreen.com.