Jeff Banman

Thunder Cats pick up one point in two games

Two strong efforts on the weekend netted the Creston Valley Thunder Cats only one point.

Two strong efforts on the weekend netted the Creston Valley Thunder Cats only one point.

Even a full period of overtime wasn’t enough to resolve Friday night’s home game against the Columbia Valley Rockies.

Each team settled for a point after 70 minutes of play. In a classic seesaw battle, both clubs enjoyed the lead at times but neither could salt away a win.

Josha Antunes opened the scoring for the Rockies, but Ronnie Wilkie (Liam Plunkett and Aiden Wong) and Wong (Wilkie and Jake McGhee) responded in the opening frame to give Creston a 2-1 lead.

That lead evaporated in the second period, though, when power play goals by Antunes and Ryan Skytt put the visiting team back in the lead.

“We were up 2-1 heading into the second period and got caught up in penalty trouble that let the Rockies get back into the game,” Cats’ coach Brad Tobin said on Sunday.

Brayden Jellis (Darby Berg and Bryce Sturm) tied the game early in the third, and Colten Witter (Conor Monaghan and McGhee) scored what fans hoped would turn out to be the game winner with 2:47 remaining in regulation.

Davin Burton dashed those hopes though, when he pulled the Rockies back even at 4-4 with 1:27 remaining.

The Rockies outshot Creston 6-4 in OT, but couldn’t get a winner past Thunder Cat goalie Ben Kelsch.

“In overtime, we had a number of grade A scoring chances but couldn’t find the net,” Tobin said. “It was an empty feeling in our dressing room after the game knowing that we had our chances to win the game late. It was great to see Brayden Jellis and Colten Witter get their first KIJHL goals.”

On Saturday, it was another seesaw skirmish when the T-Cats went into Nelson hoping to avenge a close loss last week.

“We came out of the gate with a purpose against Nelson, using our speed and work ethic to control play for long stretches early in the game,” Tobin said. “We took a couple undisciplined penalties that we didn’t need to take and it cost us some momentum in the contest.”

The teams traded leads but Nelson ended up with last one goal, and the last laugh, when David Sanchez scored the winner with 2:40 left in the game.

Tyler Witzke (Monaghan and Jack McCardie) opened the scoring midway through the second period, but a power play goal from Justin Podgorenko drew the Leafs even after 40 minutes.

Ryan Cooper gave Nelson a 2-1 lead early in the third period, but Plunkett (Justen James) tied the game five minutes later.

Creston probably deserved a better fate, outshooting the home side 33-24, but Josh Williams held the fort down for the Leafs.

“Noah Giesbrecht stood tall in net for us, making a couple saves on those penalty kills, “Tobin said. “I was impressed with the play of Dylan Rantucci playing in only his second game on defence because of injuries.”

The weekend’s one-point result has tightened up the Eddie Mountain Division standings. Kimberley Dynamiters remain in first at 6-1 for 12 points, but Creston is now tied with the Fernie Ghostriders for second place, each team having 7 points. Columbia Valley Rockies are staying close, with 6 points after 8 games.

The next Thunder Cat action takes place at home on Friday night when the Castlegar Rebels come to town. On Saturday Creston heads east to Invermere for another go at the Columbia Valley Rockies.

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