Baby Rocks fight for hard earned victory
Impromptu planning. Assistant coach Adrien Lemaire turns the boards into a makeshift playbook while outlining a strategy for the junior Shamrocks at last Wednesday night’s game. (Heather Black photo)
Backstopped by a solid performance by newly acquired net minder Trent Gabriel, an injury depleted Armstrong Junior Shamrocks squad squeaked out a very hard earned, 9-8 victory over the defending league champion Kelowna Raiders at home Wednesday night.
The Raiders potted two power play goals in the first period and got a lucky bounce on a rebound off the post, but the Shamrocks responded with a power play marker on a low five-hole shot by Cole Seidel. League leading scorer Brett Hawrys potted his first of two on the night with a hard screen shot that found the top corner followed by Brayden Bridge ripping a top cheese shot for a 3-3 tie after the first period.
Bolstered by five midget call ups from the North Okanagan and Shuswap minor associations, the baby Rocks played solid defence in front of Gabriel and turned up the offensive heat, ripping five goals in the second period while surrendering only three for an 8-6 lead after two periods. Carston Schlaak stepped out from behind the net to pot a goal, while Hawrys used a deceptive outside shot for his second of the night. Defensive specialist Cam Nelson showed his offensive prowess shorthanded, ragging the ball for several seconds, then beat the Raider defence for his first of two on the night.
The Raiders mounted a steady attack in the third; however, Gabriel remained solid, making several key saves. The Shamrocks short man units killed off a five-minute major assessed to Bridge while Cam Nelson ripped his second of the game to give the Shamrocks a one goal lead after Brendan Urban had tied the game for Kelowna. With the Raiders’ net empty, the Kelowna squad pushed for the equalizer goal but, with less than 10 seconds remaining, they rang a shot off the cross bar as the last seconds ticked off the clock.
"We played a very simple game tonight and fought through some tough penalties and earned a win," said head coach Pat Nelson. "We were really fortunate to have the midget call-ups in the lineup and they played great and helped us to balance our defence. We've been bitten really hard by the injury bug as we have 5 or 6 players out with various injuries so our veterans really need to step up and help out our younger players, and they did tonight."