Despite a strong effort, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats haven’t had a win in over two weeks, racking up their fifth and sixth straight losses on the weekend to division rivals, the Golden Rockets and Columbia Valley Rockies.
With 20 points, the Thunder Cats now sit two ahead of the last-place Rockies and eight behind the Rockets in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Eddie Mountain Division.
The weekend’s first loss came on Friday night, when the Rockets visited the John Bucyk Arena. Ty Kronewitt scored for the Thunder Cats in the middle of the first period, with a Rockets goal tying the score by the end. The Rockets scored again in the second period and twice, including the game-winner, in the third before Tyler Akeroyd and Trevor Hanna added the Thunder Cats’ second and third, the latter with 17 seconds left.
“It was a good game, actually,” said head coach Josh Hepditch. “We put ourselves in a position to win. … They played a good road game and it just came down to one shot.”
For a score of 4-3, the Rockets outshot the Thunder Cats 35-29, and Hepditch credits his goalie with keeping the score as low as it was.
“Tyler Moffat made some really big saves for us,” he said. “We were under pressure there for a while but he really stepped up and kept us in the game.”
The Thunder Cats fared less well the following night, when they visited Invermere, where they suffered a 5-2 loss to the Rockies.
“It don’t think the score reflects the game as a whole,” said Hepditch. “We had some bounces against us that weren’t the best.”
The Rockies started the game’s scoring with a goal in the first period, and two early in the second. Trevor LeBlanc scored for the Thunder Cats in the middle of the second, followed by another Rockies goal just under the five-minute mark. He assisted Brady Ward on a power-play goal early in the third period, which was followed at 2:16 by the Rockies’ fifth.
The loss showed some discouragement on the Thunder Cats’ part — outshooting the Rockies 45-26 should have had a different outcome.
“We had plenty of opportunities to score, but the snowball effect kind of came into play,” said Hepditch. “Frustration kind of snuck in on us and we kind of shot ourselves in foot a little bit.”
Right now, he added, the team needs a win to get its confidence back.
“The effort’s there in every game,” he said. “We’re right about to explode and jump out of the water — then there’s a bad break here and a bad bounce there.”
This weekend’s schedule is a repeat of last — Golden in Creston on Friday, and Creston in Invermere on Saturday — but Hepditch can see the outcome being far different.
“It will be another good test for us,” Hepditch said. “I think the guys will be hungry to rebound on last weekend and get out of the slump they’re in.”