In a rough n’ tough game on Nov. 28, the Lacombe AA Bantam Rockets defeated the Rocky Mountain House Raiders in a 7-5 victory.
Lacombe came out strong and commanded the ice in the first two periods of the game, establishing a strong 4-2 lead by the end of the second period. Within the first three minutes of the third, the Rockets scored another two points to grant themselves even further insurance.
However, the Raiders were not about to let the Rockets have the win that easily. Rocky Mountain House shifted their game and became more aggressive and tougher on the puck. As a result, Lacombe was forced to step up its game as well.
With the Raiders stepping up their game and thereby forcing the Rockets to do the same, the already physical game became even more so and tempers rose leading to more penalties and nearly causing a brawl to break out after the final buzzer.
“Anytime you start hitting like that, tempers are going to rise,” said Sheldon Klessens, head coach of the team.
Several penalties in the third against Lacombe gave Rocky Mountain House the upper hand. While the Rockets were not able to score on any of the power plays, they did gain momentum and wore down the Rockets defence and were able to score three goals elsewhere in the period.
Realizing they would need to keep up to maintain their lead, the Rockets were able to dig deeper and summon the effort needed to stay ahead, even managing to score one more goal before the end of the game. By keeping pressure on the Raiders in their own end, the Rockets were able to force them into making poor plays and capitalized on those opportunities.
Klessens said pressure, combined with a lot of shots on net allowed the Rockets to keep their lead and come out on top at the end of the game.
With the win over Rocky Mountain House, Lacombe now boasts a 6-3-1 record. Klessens said there are some tough teams in the league that have proven quite a challenge for Lacombe, but added the Rockets have managed fairly well to fend for themselves.
“We’ve been up and down a little bit,” said Klessens. “But for the most part we have been able to handle ourselves pretty well.”
Skating, playmaking and the ability to pressure opponents are two of the team’s greatest skills, said Klessens. He added that the Rockets have a particularly good fore-check that has allowed them to maintain control in the offensive end.
On the other hand, Klessens said that discipline is one of the biggest weaknesses that the team will have to overcome, saying that Friday night’s game wasn’t the first time the Rockets had run into penalty trouble. Other than that, Klessens said the team is pretty solid. There is an even split between veteran and rookie players and most of the team have played with each other in the past, making for good relationships between players.
“They are all good friends, they get along together fairly well,” said Klessens. “They have all been playing together for a lot of years and it definitely helps out.”
Lacombe’s AA Bantam Rockets play again tonight at Barnett Arenas. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m.