Special Teams Carry Rockers to 6-3 victory over Carolina

Motor City was looking to rebound after a tough road trip out east to Danbury where it dropped two games after beating Watertown the night before.

The Rockers earned a 6-3 thanks to its special teams to beat Carolina for the first time this season in the team’s first meeting of the year.

Carolina (10-6-1) utilized sustained offense in the offensive zone to grab a 1-0 lead with 5:11 into the first. 

Petr Panacek moved the puck down low behind the goal line where it was tied up for a brief moment. Jan Salak was able to collect and feed the puck between his legs to Jiri Pestuka for a point blank shot for his fourth of the season. 

Twelve minutes later a tenacious forecheck by Joe Kennedy intercepted a breakout pass from the Rockers that he worked deep into the offensive zone. Kennedy fired a point blank shot for his first of the season and 2-0 lead with 6:14 to play in the first.

Motor City (13-5-3) wouldn’t be kept off the board in the first period, however, as the Rockers were able to get one back 40 seconds later. Vaughn Clouston fed the puck from the farside point down to the nearside corner to Everett Thompson. Thompson fired the puck on the net and the rebound leaked out to the feet of Roman Gaudet who banged home his seventh of the season. 

Thompson received his seventh assist of the season and Clouston earned his fifth assist of the year as well.

After Motor City survived the early barrage from Carolina, it was the Rockers who rolled the rest of the way thanks to its special teams. After securing a goal by Dylan Johnson for his sixth goal in six games to tie the score at 2-2 1:44 into the second period, Carolina earned its last goal of the night on its lone powerplay goal for the night on a hard blast from the point for a 3-2 lead with 13:51 left in the second period. Motor City’s league leading power play helped even the odds when Brad Reitter tied the score, 3-3, four minutes later with his third power play goal of the season. Then came a big moment late in the second where the game lay in the balance. Motor City had to kill off a five-minute major in the last 6:15 of the period. Not only were the Rockers able to kill the power play, it was able to secure its first short-handed goal in franchise history. 

Reitter chipped the puck ahead to Derek Makimma who secured it through the offensive zone. Using long strides, he was able to slip ahead of the defense who was stride-for-stride with him until the last moment when Makimma moved into the slot and fired in the puck for a 4-3 lead.

The Rockers secured its second power play goal from Declan Conway 2:16 in the third period on a quick pass from Scott Coash for his 11th of the season and a 5-3 lead before Coash earned an empty net goal late in the third for a 6-3 win. Trevor Babin was in net for the Rockers and stopped 30 shots in his seventh win of the season. The Rockers face off with the Carolina Thunder again on Saturday 12/17 at 7:00 PM.