With eight points, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats are in second place in the Eddie Mountain Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League following a loss and a win on the weekend.
The loss happened on Friday night, when the Thunder Cats hosted the Fernie Ghostriders, who sit a point behind them in the Eddie Mountain Division, tied with the Columbia Valley Rockies.
The Thunder Cats outshot the Ghostriders 37-23, but the end result was a 4-2 loss.
“It was one of those games that we just couldn’t seem to find a way to get the puck in their net, and they took full advantage of their scoring opportunities,” said head coach Josh Hepditch.
The first period, he said, had some good back-and-forth play, with no goals until Fernie scored at 2:23, and Brandon Formosa scored for the Thunder Cats on a five-on-three power play at 1:31.
Although the Thunder Cats outshot Fernie 13-6 in the second period, they earned only one goal, by Logan Styler on a power play, with Fernie scoring three times.
“We gave up a couple of prime time opportunities they took full advantage of,” said Hepditch.
Sunday’s 5-4 win against the Chase Heat started out well, with Ethan Rusnack and Jaymes Veitch scoring in the first period, for a 2-1 lead. Rusnack started the second-period scoring at 12:12, followed by a goal from Styler.
“His one goal was a great power-play goal,” said Hepditch. “It was an NHL-type pass from Colby Livingstone.”
The Heat scored a second goal after Styler’s, but Rusnack earned a hat trick when added the Thunder Cats’ fifth at 2:25.
Although the Heat scored twice in the third period, “we had a good enough lead going into the third that we hung on for the win,” said Hepditch.
This game — which marked Cranbrook native Brock Lefebvre’s first time in the Thunder Cats goal this season, as well as his first win — saw the Thunder Cats take more shots than any other game this season, with 33 coming from Chase. But they managed to get off 49 of their own, a trend Hepditch hopes to see them maintain.
“If we continue outshooting teams the way we have, the successes will start to be more consistent,” he said.
This weekend, the Thunder Cats head out on a three-game road trip, visiting the Kamloops Storm, 100 Mile House Wranglers and Chase Heat, ranked first, second and fourth, respectively, in the Doug Birks Division, with Kamloops having won six out of seven games.
“They’ve got a tough division over there,” said Hepditch. “We’re definitely going to have to go up and take it one game at a time and see where the chips fall.”
This weekend could allow the Thunder Cats to pull well ahead — Sunday’s rematch against Chase will be a game in hand over the rest of the Eddie Mountain Division.
“We have to find a way to keep a step from the rest of the pack,” said Hepditch.