It was a tale of two teams on the Creston Valley Thunder Cats’ past road trip. First, there was the Friday night group that struggled early and allowed five first-period goals en route to a 7-1 loss that gave the Kamloops Storm their only win of the season. That same group stormed the rink in 100 Mile House and handed the Cyclone Taylor Cup hosts a 7-3 loss just 24 hours later.
The big story in that loss to the Storm was the inability for the team to kill penalties in the first period allowing three powerplay goals on four opportunities. After the first period, the penalty kill got back on track, killing off seven of eight the rest of the game, but there was no coming back from their first-period struggles.
“We got off to a slow start in the first but coming back in the second I think we were in their end the whole time,” said second-year Thunder Cat Trail Thompson. “Their goalie really stood on his head and kept them in it, and we just weren’t able to capitalize on our chances.”
The team’s only goal came in that dominant second period off the stick of Corbin Cockerill, his third of the season. While the result wasn’t there on Friday, Thompson prefers to see the silver lining around that game.
“Obviously nobody likes to lose, but I think as a group the loss really brought out a good side in our team and showed [ourselves] that we can bounce back in a good way,” he said.
They bounced back in a big way even though the Wranglers managed to strike first. Creston battled back in the first period taking a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes on a first career goal from defenseman Matthew Cammock, as well as Travis Thorhaug’s fourth of the year. The penalty kill didn’t see action until the second period but overall went five for five in the game. Thompson managed to sneak one by the goalie from an improbable angle for the third goal of the game, but 100 Mile House hung around and tied things up with 9:58 to go in the third period.
The resiliency that the team had shown all year came through in that final period when the Cats took hold of the game and didn’t let go scoring four goals in 5:45, the last one coming with 12 seconds left. Aiden Szautner scored the game-winner, and Connor Scammel, Carson Small, and Josh Dalquist each put a puck in the net and Creston cruised to a convincing 7-3 victory. Goaltender Riley O’Laney stopped 30 of 33 for his fourth win of the season keeping his unbeaten streak alive.
The Cats have three more games away from home before they can take the ice at the Johnny. Oct. 4 is the first game of the season versus the Rockets, and the Oct. 5 game is a rematch of the season opener as the team visits the Spokane Braves. In that first game against the Braves, Creston skated to a 7-1 win on the back of Small’s four-point night (2G, 2A).