By Nikki Fredrikson
Special to the Pioneer
In dramatic fashion, the Rockies have advanced to the second round of playoffs after defeating the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in overtime on Friday, March 2nd.
It has been so long since the Rockies have made the semi-finals, no one can track down exactly when they last made it this far. Estimates range from 10 to 20 years ago, but the hard copy records have been lost. Head coach Wade Dubielewicz confirms it is the first time since he took over five years ago.
The Rockies took six games to beat the Thunder Cats sticking to their mentality of it’s a marathon, not a sprint. The Thunder Cats were able to come away with two victories during the series taking game one and game five.
“I think in games one and five we didn’t apply our game plan whatsoever whether it be tactically or physically at all and I think you see the results,” said Mr. Dubielewicz.
He went on to say “we got blown out twice in that rink (Johnny Bucyk Arena) because we didn’t want to play physical or apply the game plan.”
Captain of the Rockies Ryan Skytt scored five goals throughout the first round of playoffs, bringing home the win for the team on Friday night in overtime.
“Ryan’s the type of kid that when he shows up at the rink, shows up at the gym, shows up at woodpile, shows up any place I ask him to, he puts the work in and works hard, does it the right way,” said Mr. Dubielewicz. “I think what you’re seeing with Ryan is he’s done everything he can to prepare for playoffs and you’re seeing the results.”
He added that Skytt has been doing a good job of keeping the team’s emotions in check throughout the playoffs.
The Rockies will now face the Kimberley Dynamiters battling for a berth to the conference finals. Mr. Dubielewicz said he plans to keep the starting lineup from game six against the Thunder Cats for the first match against Kimberley and make adjustments as needed.
Going into round two of playoffs Mr. Dubielewicz is anticipating the Dynamiters to take advantage of their home rink stating Kimberley’s rink is difficult to play in.
“I think for us our biggest challenge is going to be going to that rink, overcome the mental hurdle and pull a game out of there,” said Mr. Dubielewicz.
The teams face off for the first time Tuesday, March 6th in Kimberley B.C. playing again Wednesday before two games in Invermere.