The Christmas break wasn’t very good to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats as they entered the layoff on a four-game winning streak and came back to consecutive losses to the Columbia Valley Rockies.
The following contest was the New Year’s Eve Classic against the Fernie Ghostriders, the ninth installment of the Dec. 31 game. The last game of the year was kind to the Cats as they have dominated Fernie, winning six of the eight games, including five in a row from 2013-2017. They dominated yet again, but it was the opposition who came away with the win. Despite controlling the play and putting the Riders’ netminder under siege throughout the game, the only shot in overtime was the difference as Fernie escaped Creston with a 3-2 victory.
Everything started as planned for the Cats who put the pressure on right from puck drop and played a full 60 minutes. They even scored first, a tip in front of the net from Connor Scammell, assisted by Andrew Clark and Corbin Cockerill, just over eight minutes into the game. Fernie would end up capitalizing on their minimal chances, scoring twice, just 39 seconds apart, and taking a 2-1 lead into the second period. The Cats outshot Fernie 19-8 in the first and continued the onslaught in the second, putting 15 more shots on net. Converting on one of those was Aiden Szautner, who wristed one from the top of the circles over the shoulder of the Fernie goaltender, assisted by Brian Butland and Travis Thorhaug.
With 20 minutes left to decide the winner of a 2-2 tie, Creston bombarded the Ghostriders once more in the third outshooting them 17-5, forcing the goalie into several game-saving stops. The game ended on a bit of a controversial note when the winning shot seemed to hit the crossbar and stay out, but was called a goal by the officials, insisting it went off the back bar inside the net.
The New Year hasn’t been very good to Creston either as the Thunder Cats have dropped consecutive decisions in 2020 to the Kimberley Dynamiters and the Nelson Leafs. In both games, the Cats surrendered six goals, but the games were closer than the final scores indicated. Against Kimberley, Carson Small was able to break the shutout and score the Cats’ only goal of the game, but after all was said and done, the final score was 6-1.
The next night in Nelson had the two teams tied 3-3 with 11 minutes to go in the third period. It was a hard-fought game from the Cats, with some bright spots: Ty Grisdale netted his first two-goal game, newcomer Ryan Patterson scored in his second game with the team, and Creston had 50-plus shots for the second time in under a week, throwing 55 at Leafs goaltender Tenzin Mint, but ultimately falling 6-3 after the Leafs scored a pair of late empty-net goals.
Creston has just a single game on the weekend, a Saturday contest at home versus the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.