Hot on the heels of a statement-making win on Friday in Castlegar, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats took their first loss of 2018 in Invermere on Saturday night.
“We just didn’t play well in this one, we were struggling to find any momentum throughout the game,” the T-Cats head coach said on Sunday. “Even up 2-0 both from power play goals in the first period, it still didn’t feel as if we had a grip on the game.”
Creston’s two goals came when Dylan Rantucci scored unassisted and Tyler Witzke added another goal with a man advantage, with assists from Ronnie Wilkie and Jack McArdle.
Columbia Valley Rockies finally got on the scoreboard when Dace Prymak scored, also on the power play.
Cooper Krauss drew the home team into a tie when he scored 6:10 into the third period and Mike Dyck potted the game-winner with 4:44 remaining in regulation time. Kale Hawryluk scored into an empty net to seal the win.
Austen Canete was named the Away Star and Levi Mitchell stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced. Creston put 36 shots on the Columbia Valley net.
The loss was a letdown after the Thunder Cats went into Castlegar and put in a complete game effort on the way to a 3-0 shutout over the high-flying Rebels.
Friday at Castlegar
“We put forth one of our best efforts of the season against the Rebels. The team played as a unit both on the ice and on the bench, you could sense that the boys really wanted this one.
“It was our first win against Castlegar all season, and it felt good to get the monkey off our backs,” Tobin said. “Dawson McGuire played an outstanding game—his continuous effort on the backcheck and along the boards were rewarded with a goal in the game. Levi Mitchell was strong again, helping keep the Rebels top players at bay.”
Ronnie Wilkie opened the scoring midway through the second period, with assists going to Justen James and Mitchell Wolfe. Tyler Witze scored an unassisted shorthanded effort with 47 seconds left in the period, putting the Thunder Cats into a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes.
Dawson McGuire (Carson Small and McArdle) scored in the third period.
Creston was outshot 31-26 as Mitchell, now in a three-way tie KIJHL’s best save percentage, earned the shutout.
The weekend was notable for the failure of league scoring leader Liam Plunkett to earn a point. He and Wilkie remain 1-2 at the top of the scoring race.
With two wins on the weekend, the Kimberley Dynamiters have stretched their lead to 7 points over Creston.
“We will reset this week and go back to the drawing board, looking ahead to next weekend,” Tobin said.
The Thunder Cats host the Golden Rockets on Friday night, then take on the Dynamiters in Kimberley on Saturday evening.
Golden made the news last week when 15-year-old Midget affiliate Izzy Palumbo backstopped the team to a win over the Columbia Valley Rockies. The young female goaltender stopped 49 shots to lead her team to only its third win of the season.