The Creston Valley Thunder Cats let their inexperience get the better of them on the weekend when they lost the first two games of the 2011-2012 season to the Kimberley Dynamiters.
With several of last season’s top performers having aged out of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, about seven returned to the team, with added newcomers making up a very “young team”, according to head coach and general manager Brent Heaven.
Still, the Thunder Cats might have won Friday’s game — their home opener — if the team kept up its initial effort.
“I think the boys came out with a lot of energy,” said Heaven. “We definitely were playing within our systems. As the game got going, Kimberley got a little more involved.”
Creston outshot Kimberley 12-3 in the first period, which resulted in a score of 1-1, thanks to goals by Creston’s Jovi Fabbri and Kimberley’s Jared Marchi.
Kimberley dominated shooting in the second period, but Creston veteran Scott Swiston scored after six minutes, followed by Kimberley’s Colton Vannucci five minutes later.
Heaven said the game’s focus turned verbal as the game progressed. The Thunder Cats managed to outshoot Kimberley 18-11 in the third period but the Thunder Cats’ only goal by Andrew Hodder was sandwiched between goals by two Kimberley goals, resulting in a score of 4-3 for the visitors.
Heaven was pleased by the efforts of some players, including Swiston and 16-year-old Tre Potskin.
“They really stepped up to show they’re good players,” he said.
Saturday’s game, played in Kimberley, resulted in the first casualty of the season, goalie Daimon Derouin, who was let go following a 15-5 defeat in Kimberley.
“I think goaltending was a big issue for us,” said Heaven. “It was deflating for the players because they were working their butts off.”
Thunder Cats Brandon West and Brock Ward scored in the first period, which ended in Kimberley’s favour with a score of 3-2. After seven Kimberley goals in the second period, Potskin scored, followed by an eighth second-period Dynamiters goal. Swiston and Potskin started the third-period scoring, but three more Kimberley goals followed.
Derouin was pulled and replaced by backup goalie Colton Wardrop, who, Heaven noted, also struggled to keep up to the Kimberley players. Another goalie was slated to arrive this week to beef up the Thunder Cats presence in net.
“Hopefully, he’s going to be able to come in and battle no matter what,” said Heaven. “Obviously, I haven’t had that yet. I really haven’t had anybody step into forefront to show he’s going to be the guy.”
Because it’s early in the season, Heaven said more changes are in store.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we have awinning team on the ice,” he said. “I’m looking for a great team, not a good team. Until I can find guys willing to carry the load, I’m going to continue to look.”
This weekend, the Thunder Cats play two Eddie Mountain Division rivals, hosting the Golden Rockets on Friday before travelling to Invermere to take on the Columbia Valley Rockies on Saturday.
“I’m definitely excited,” said Heaven. “I think what happened on the weekend here is in the past, and we’re now moving forward.
“At the same time, we’re going to battle a lot harder than last weekend, and hope we come out of it with a couple of wins.”