With the season winding down and the playoffs long out of reach, the Columbia Valley Rockies are looking to salvage any momentum they can heading into the off season.
To that effect, coach Marc Ward says that the team is trying to focus on good habits for their remaining games. However, when asked how well his team was fulfilling that goal following an 8-2 loss to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Friday, February 3, the answer was simple.
“Awful,” Ward said. “We did not play well at all — our goaltending was great, but we were outworked and out-hustled.”
The Rockies 6-5 double overtime victory in December over Creston seemed but a distant memory on a night where the Rockies were outshot 53-21.
Creston, no doubt still stinging from that loss, put on an offensive clinic early in the first period, scoring three minutes into the frame and capitalizing on Rockies’ mistakes to add three more before the period was up.
The Rockies didn’t take very kindly to that.
Columbia Valley began to lay big hits that while helping their intensity, also landed them in more penalty trouble as they began the second shorthanded and remained that way for nearly half the period.
“It’s extremely tough to play when you’re shorthanded for 10 to 12 minutes,” Ward said. “There’s no flow to the game.”
The Rockies did show some strong penalty killing instincts by not allowing any powerplay markers on five opportunities for Creston in the second period.
This strong play eventually paid dividends when the Rockies scored their first goal of the night. Todd Sykes put a puck home into an empty net after the Creston goalie was bumped into and went down in a heap. Despite the goalie’s objections, the goal stood, narrowing the lead to 4-1 and seemingly giving the Rockies some semblance of life.
But the comeback was not to be, as Creston scored two more goals at the end of the period to make the lead 6-1 entering the final period.
Cody Stephenson opened the third with a powerplay goal to make it 6-2, but the comeback stopped there, as Creston added two more goals early in the period to seal the game at 8-2. With the loss the Rockies drop to 3-42-0-1 on the season.
“We need to focus on our good habits, and outworking our opponents,” Ward said after the game. “It doesn’t matter if we’re in this building or any other building or who we’re playing, we need to do the little things that make us successful.”
The following night, February 4, the Rockies travelled to Creston to complete the home and home set with the Thunder Cats.
While the Rockies fixed the penalty issue that had plagued them the game before by allowing no Creston powerplays the whole game, the Rockies themselves only scored once on eight powerplay opportunities en-route to a 9-1 loss. Jayson Cannell scored the lone goal for the Rockies.
The team then hosted the Golden Rockets on Tuesday February 7 at Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena, but weren’t able to notch a win that night either. The Rockies fell 3-1 to the Rockets, who they won’t face again this season.
The second-to-last weekend of the season looks to be a busy one for Columbia Valley, with three games on the calendar.
First, the Rockies will play a final home-and-home set against the Kimberley Dynamiters, travelling Friday and hosting the team Saturday, February 11. Following that, the Sicamous Eagles will hit the ice at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena in a Sunday matinee game at 1 p.m.