A weekend that started out with the Creston Valley Thunder Cats beating the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 8-3 on Friday ended with a 7-0 loss to the Nitehawks on Sunday.
“We came out with an extremely good effort, and I think our heads got a little bit swollen thinking it was going to be easy again,” said Hepditch. “If you beat a team 8-3, you kind of get the mindset it’s going be like that again, but we’ve got to come focused and ready to play every night.”
Sunday’s game saw the Nitehawks — who hold third place in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Neil Murdoch Division — score a single goal in the first period, four (including one shorthanded and one on a power play) in the second period, and two (one on a power play) in the third.
Penalties were few in the first and second periods, but six Thunder Cats earned penalties in the third, with Joey Berget and Tyler Akeroyd each earning a game misconduct.
That game was an overwhelming change from Friday’s 8-3 win at home.
“We played pretty close to a full 60 minutes, like we want to do every night,” said Hepditch.
The Thunder Cats started the scoring with Darcy Flaherty and Andrew Hodder (power play) scoring six and nine minutes, respectively, into the first period.
Following Nitehawks goals late in the first and early in the second, the Thunder Cats’ power-play units kept up their hard work, with Trevor LeBlanc, Trevor Hanna and Marcel Fuchs scoring power-play goals.
Entering the third period down 5-2, Brad Gaboury of the Nitehawks scored an unassisted goal at 14:24, with the Thunder Cats adding three more, by Ty Kronewitt, Matti Jmaeff (power play) and Berget.
The Nitehawks outshot the Thunder Cats 34-29, and Hepditch credits goaltender Zach Straza with keeping them in the game. He also noted the performance of Jmaeff, Jesse Collins and Ethan Rusnack, who earned 11 points between them.
“[Rusnack] drove hard to the net all night,” said Hepditch. “He made a couple of really nice backboard passes, which is really nice to see.”
This weekend, the Thunder Cats are away, visiting the Summerland Steam on Friday and the Kelowna Chiefs on Saturday. The Chiefs are third in the Okanagan Division and the Steam are fourth, and should provide reasonably even matches for the Thunder Cats.
“I think it will be good for us to get away and let the guys gel a little bit and play on the road,” said Hepditch. “It will be a good weekend to improve ourselves as a team.”