The Creston Valley Thunder Cats are looking for a strong end to 2017, coach Brad Tobin said last week. A 7-1 win at home over the Golden Rockets on Friday contributed to the cause.
“I wasn’t happy with how we started the game once again,” Tobin said on Sunday. “We need to figure out that skill alone doesn’t win championships and that if we’re looking to have a deep playoff run then we better all get on the same page.”
The bright side of thumping the KIJHL bottom dwellers was that contributions came from more than just the T-Cats top line of Liam Plunkett, Ronnie Wilkie and Justen James.
Wilkie started the scoring with the first period’s only goal. Conor Monaghan (Callum McGhee and Bryce Sturm) opened the second period scoring with a Thunder Cat power play goal, but Simon Korol then put the Rockets on the board with a power play effort of his own. Creston responded with three more goals to gain an insurmountable 5-1 lead after 40 minutes. Brody Ryan (Sturm and Dawson McGuire), Plunkett (Tyler Witzke and McGhee) and McGhee (McGuire) all scored.
Witzke (Jack McArdle and Sturm) scored on the power play in the final frame and Mitchell Wolfe (McArdle and Sturm) finished things off.
“Callum McGhee had a great game, contributed on the score sheet and played very well in the defensive zone,” Tobin said. “For him it was a statement game, and after what he’s gone through this season it was a sneak peek on what we can expect out of him in the second half.”
Creston outshot the opponents 55-26 and Levi Mitchell turned away all but one of the 26 shots he faced.
The game was marred by a brawl late in the second period. Golden’s Donte Nowell was in the centre of things, and earned two minors (instigator and aggressor), two majors (fighting and a match penalty), misconduct and game misconduct for his transgressions. Justen James was hit with a fighting major and game misconduct as well for his part in the festivities.
The Thunder Cats wrap up the calendar year with a pair of games against a tougher opponent. On Wednesday they travel to Fernie to take on the Ghostriders and Fernie will be in Creston on December 31 for a New Year’s Eve tilt.
“These next two games are big for our hockey club,” Tobin said. “We want to go into the break feeling satisfied with how the first half of the season went. But we also know what lies ahead and need to hit the ground running to start the second half.”