For the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, a 3-1 win on Saturday was more than just a victory over the Columbia Valley Rockies — it also marked the end of a seven-game losing streak.
“It was a good game,” said head coach Josh Hepditch. “We played a full 60 minutes.”
The Thunder Cats started the scoring with two goals in the first period, one by Joey Berget at 17:42 and a power-play goal by Trevor Hanna at 12:50. Jaiden Ward followed with a shorthanded goal in the middle of the second period.
Although the period saw some action — with Andrew Hodder earning a 10-minute misconduct penalty and Angus Johnston ejected from the game — “the kids stuck with it found a way to get it done,” said Hepditch.
Their goals went unanswered by the Rockies until mid-third period, when Byron Sam scored that team’s only goal.
“I think the guys took the right mindset into the game and really pulled through with this one,” Hepditch said.
It was a better effort than the pervious night, when the Thunder Cats started out dominating the scoring, but ended up losing 6-4 to the Golden Rockets.
“We started off really good in the first period like we wanted to, then slowly let them get going.”
The Rockets scored first at 19:02 in the first period, followed by goals by Jesse Collins, Ty Kronewitt (unassisted) and Brady Ward. After a shorthanded Rockets goal, Ethan Rusnack scored the Thunder Cats’ fourth and final goal of the game.
Although the Rockets scored once in the second period and three times in the third, the Thunder Cats gave it their best effort.
“They really stuck to the game plan and did what we wanted them to do,” he said. “It’s bittersweet when you can see the potential the team has.”
Hepditch was also pleased with Ward’s performance.
“He’s been one of our most consistent players all year,” he said. “He had a goal, but had a great game for us.”
Saturday’s win over the Rockies couldn’t have come at a better time, with the Rockies now just two points behind the Thunder Cats, who have 24, in the Eddie Mountain Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Ahead of the Thunder Cats are the Rockets with 34, the Kimberley Dynamiters with 36 and the Fernie Ghostriders with 37.
This weekend, the Thunder Cats will be away on Friday, taking on the Nelson Leafs, who lead the Neil Murdoch Division with 46 points.
“They’ve got an extremely good team,” said Hepditch. “We’ve played them once before, and it was a good game. It will be a good measuring stick.”
In their only divisional game of the weekend, the Thunder Cats will host the Rockies on Saturday, and then be visited by the Summerland Steam on Sunday.
“That was where our streak got started,” said Hepditch. “We’re looking forward to bouncing back with them.”