The Okanagan Rockets are skating out of their home opening weekend with two of a possible four points against the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.
In the home opener on Saturday, T-Birds’ defenceman Nowel Maarhuis drew first blood on the powerplay, two minutes into the game. But after the Rockets had a powerplay goal disallowed when the Fraser Valley net was knocked off, Dylan Prpich tipped in the team’s first goal of the season, to tie things up at 1 after 20 minutes.
In the second, the Rockets took advantage on another powerplay with Max Kryski’s first of the year, and held onto the 2-1 lead through 40 minutes.
After starting the third period on a powerplay, the Thunderbirds tied the game just over a minute in, when captain Baxter Anderson tied the game 2-2.
From that point on, both teams traded chances in a game that looked headed for overtime.
But with just over eight minutes left, Fraser Valley’s Blake Bonnar was given a double minor and misconduct, for a trip that the referee determined was a slew foot.
And after a flurry of action, second-year defenceman Cody Schiavon pinched down from the left wing point, and one-timed a shot past T-Birds’ goalie Boston Bilous, for a goal that would stand up to be the winner.
The game was also one that saw the Rockets fire more than 40 shots on goal, and had all five goals scored on the powerplay.
On Sunday, the Thunderbirds once again scored first, when defenceman Matthew Dyck’s shot was tipped by Jonathan Rees, past Rockets’ starting goalie Nik Bregeda.
That score would stand until mid-way through the second period, when Prpich scored his second goal in as many games to tie the score at 1.
Fraser Valley looked to be headed to the second intermission with a lead, when Jayden Genberg scored his first goal with less than four minutes on the clock.
But the Rockets tied it up in dramatic fashion, when Prpich created an offensive zone turnover and fed Eli Zummack, who wired one past Chad Cromar for a shorthanded goal that tied it 2-2.
The teams traded chances for the first nine minutes of the third, until Jake Mulder broke the tie, banging home a rebound opportunity.
Fraser Valley then extended their lead to 4-2, when Dylan Debruyn sped up his off-wing and snapped it home.
But the Rockets made things interesting only 26 seconds later, when a tip-in from Tanner Bahm brought the Okanagan squad back within one goal.
The dagger came four and a half minutes later, when Anderson’s second goal of the weekend provided the insurance in the T-Bird’s 5-3 victory.
The Rockets (1-1), continue the season next weekend at the fall showcase in Richmond, where they battle the GV Canadians (0-1-1) in consecutive games.
The next home action is coming up October 8/9, when the Rockets host the Vancouver NW Giants.
You can catch the games at the CNC on Saturday at 3 pm and Sunday at 10 am, on the PPV video feed at www.playfullscreen.com, and on our live audio broadcast at www.mixlr.com/okanaganrockets.