The Creston Valley Thunder Cats second-place ranking in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Eddie Mountain Division lasted only a few days, with a 3-1 loss to the now-second-place Kimberley Dynamiters on Jan. 13 knocking them back to third.
The game, in which the Thunder Cats outshot their hosts, was a frustrating one, said head coach Jeff Dubois.
“We certainly had the opportunity to take two points out of that one,” he said. “It was just one of those nights where didn’t feel like we got what we deserved.”
Carson Cartwright scored the Thunder Cats’ only goal less than a minute into the first period, with the Dynamiters adding a goal in each period.
The Thunder Cats suffered an 8-2 loss when they hosted the division-leading Fernie Ghostriders on Friday, after starting out slowly in the first period. The visitors scored twice in the first period and the Thunder Cats were down 3-0 before Marcel Fuchs responded with a goal at 15:30 in the second. Lien Miller-Jeannotte scored the Thunder Cats’ last goal nine minutes later, with Fernie following up with a shorthanded goal at 1:41.
“That just seemed to kill any momentum we developed,” said Dubois.
The Ghostriders ended up scoring another four goals in the third period, the last shorthanded at 6:06.
“We didn’t really show up for the third.”
The team tried harder on Saturday, earning a 7-1 victory over the visiting Golden Rockets.
“As a coaching staff, we were really curious to see what the bounceback would be for Saturday,” said Dubios. “The response was exactly what we were hoping for. The compete level went back to what we expected.”
Goals from Austin Steger, Logan Wullum and Cartwright (power play) gave the Thunder Cats a 3-0 lead after the first period, which became a 5-0 lead after the second, thanks to goals by Cartwright and Dylan Hogue. Cartwright earned a hat trick with a goal late in the third period, with Mason Mazur scoring the Thunder Cats’ seventh. The Rockets scored their first goal with 2:02 left in the game.
“We were making the most of our offensive opportunities because we were working hard to get them,” said Dubois.
The line of Cartwright, Kyle Richter and Alec Wilkinson continued to impress Dubois, racking up seven points in that game. The fourth line of Mazur, Hogue and Jack Berger also impressed him with two goals.
This weekend, the Thunder Cats visit the Nelson Leafs on Friday for their second match of the season, having previously handed the Leafs a 1-0 loss in November.
“They were hit by the injury bug at the time and, I think, so were we,” said Dubois.
The Leafs have strong defense, with players who spend 25-30 minutes a game on the ice. They’re currently in third place in the Neil Murdoch Division, with two points separating them from second and fourth.
“They’re right in the mix in their division, so you go into that rink expecting a tough game,” said Dubois.
The Columbia Valley Rockies — at the bottom of the Eddie Mountain Division with 24 points and no chance at the playoffs — visit Creston on Saturday, for a game that could be a toug’sh one.
“You can’t get caught looking at the standings because they play you tight,” said Dubois. “They’re just coming off a week where they beat Nelson and beat Fernie.
“There’s teams that know they’re not in it when it comes to January and they start to fold the tent, and Columbia Valley certainly isn’t doing that.”