GAME RECAP: Rockers at Port Huron Prowlers 10/21/23
GAME RECAP: Rockers at Elmira River Sharks 11/3/23

GAME RECAP: Rockers vs. Blue Ridge Bobcats 10/27/23

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After a successful opening weekend in Port Huron, taking five out of a possible six points, the Motor City Rockers opened the home portion of their schedule Friday night at Big Boy Arena in Fraser against the expansion Blue Ridge Bobcats from Wytheville, Virginia. It was a game of momentum swings that ultimately saw the Bobcats prevail in the shootout for a 5-4 victory, the franchise's first before 817 fans.

The Rockers had a golden opportunity to jump out in front in the first period when two Bobcat players headed to the box at 12:25 for a full two minute two-man advantage. But the powerplay never really tested Blue Ridge goaltender Christian Pavlas and the Bobcats killed the penalties off. Blue Ridge then struck first at 16:10 when Jakub Volf deflected a shot past Rockers goalie Trevor Babin for his third goal of the young season. Assists to Egor Dolkart and Kyle Stevens on the game's first goal. It didn't even take a minute for the Bobcats to strike again as Hunter Hall made a great move in front of the net and popped in his second of the season from Dominik Matonak and Stevens again at 17:02. Not the start the Rockers were hoping for. But a late powerplay helped swing the momentum a bit before the period's end as Motor City finally lit the lamp. Dante Suffredini fed a pass over to Scott Coash who took the slapper that Pavlas stopped, but big Roman Gaudet was parked in front of the net and deposited the rebound into the empty cage for his first of the season at 19:11 to make it 2-1 Bobcats after one period. The Rockers out-shot Blue Ridge 19-9 in the first so it was huge to come out of the period with that goal.

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Motor City dominated the second period on the scoreboard and it looked like they were well on their way to a third straight win to open up the 2023-24 season. Just after a powerplay expired, rookie Pavel Svintsov scored from a bad angle to the side of the net for his first North American professional goal at 9:35 from Brad Reitter to even things at two. And the Rockers weren't done. At 12:06, Derek Makimaa slid a beautiful feed to a streaking Jonathan Juliano who buried it for his first of the season and a 3-2 Motor City lead. Give the second assist to Nick Magill-Diaz on the go-ahead goal. The Rockers took advantage of a bad giveaway on the powerplay from Blue Ridge for a shorthanded goal at 16:07. Suffredini picked the puck up and sent Svintsov in on net and the Russian rookie backhanded it over Pavlas for his second of the night and 4-2 Motor City lead after two.

Things stayed that way past the halfway point of the third and the Rockers looked poised to make it a 3-0 start to the season but Blue Ridge's Vlasov Vladislav had other plans. On the powerplay he absolutely rocketed one from just inside the blueline past Babin on a perfect one-timer at 14:23 to cut the deficit to 4-3. Assists to Vulf and former Rocker Cody Oakes on his second of the season. But Vladislav was not done. The Bobcats pulled Pavlas for the extra attacker and cashed in at 18:48 when he sent it past Babin in front of the net. Just like that, what seemed like a sure victory was all knotted up at four. It didn't get any easier when Declan Conway was called for an illegal equipment minor with nineteen seconds left in regulation, putting the Bobcats on the powerplay heading into overtime. Blue Ridge out-shot the Rockers 10-5 in the third, so they were definitely the more aggressive team down the stretch.

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The Rockers were able to kill Conway's penalty off in the extra session, in fact the Bobcats never got a shot on net, but neither team could get the winning goal, sending things to a shootout for the first this season for Motor City. Unfortunately things didn't get any better in the shootout. Both Jakub Volf and Josh Newberg beat Babin while Pavlas stopped both Scott Coash and Svintsov to give the Bobcats the 5-4 victory.

If there is a silver lining to the disappointing loss, it is Motor City still got a point in the game, giving them six on the season. But this seemed like a sure three points in the standings so they can't be happy with losing the lead and the game on their home ice in the last six minutes of the third period. Luckily for them, there is not much time to stew over this one as these same two teams are right back at it Saturday at Big Boy Arena for a rematch at 6:05.

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