After registering just four shots and allowing three goals after twenty minutes, the Rockies home game against Creston Valley on Saturday was looking hopeless – but the 40 minutes that followed brought the game back to life.
The Thunder Cats are currently sitting in first place among the five teams in the Eddie Mountain division, while the Rockies sit in fourth place.
Creston Valley forward Ethan Rusnack opened the scoring after seven minutes of play in the first, and then scored again on the power play nine minutes later. Creston Valley netted another goal before the final minute to finish the period with a commanding 3 – 0 lead.
“We really told the kids that they have to chip pucks and get them deep to be successful,” said head coach Wade Dubielewicz. “We didn’t do it in the first period.”
After a conflict before the second period’s opening puck drop, the crowd was in for a new game after the intermission. A tussle saw seven game misconducts handed out and 16 minutes of penalties assessed.
Defenseman Mitch Rosko may be suspended for up to three games for interfering from the bench, but
the coaching staff had no comment on the issue.
Two minutes into the second, Rockies Braeden Farge put Columbia Valley on the board with help from Doan Smith and Racey Big Snake. The Rockies struck again after five more minutes of play, as Ryan Henderson and Matt Houston set up Stephen Pratt. The home team managed to tie the game 12 minutes into the second, when Doan Smith scored after a pass from Jerome Thorne and goaltender Brody Nelson. But the Thunder Cats were able to take their lead back before the end of 40 minutes, scoring in the final 90 seconds.
“We made a simple little adjustment before the second; we executed the game plan in the second and obviously the result was a little better,” Mr. Dubielewicz said.
The adjustment, Rockies forward Ryan Henderson said, was in simplifying their game.
“We know they’re a little weak in the back end, so we tried to take advantage of that and get pucks to the net,” he said.
Creston Valley was first to score in the third, bringing the score to 5 – 3 after a power play goal four minutes in. Zachary Schlitt brought the Rockies back within one, after a goal set up by Matt Houston and Stephen Pratt.
“In the third period, we actually started to run the plays that we were supposed to and found a little bit of success, but we have to find a way to get the kids to do it for the full game,” Mr. Dubielewicz said.
As the third wound down, the Rockies were firing on all cylinders to try to force overtime. But their chance of tying the game was shot down after Ethan Rusnack scored a hat trick goal, ensuring the Thunder Cats’ of a 6-4 win with a two-goal lead in the remaining 95 seconds of the game.
“Our discipline could have been better,” Henderson said about the third period. “We could have capitalized on a few of those power plays.”
Rockies goaltender Brody Nelson faced 38 shots. Stewart Pratt, Columbia Valley’s other regular goalie, is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury.
As of Saturday, the Rockies had lost six consecutive games. That streak ended on Tuesday, when Columbia Valley defeated the Fernie Ghostriders on Tuesday, December 17th.
The Rockies will be getting to know the Ghostriders quite well, as they’re the Rockies’ only opponents until 2014.
Columbia Valley will be heading to Fernie on Saturday, December 21st, and again on Monday, December 30th, to finish the 2013 portion of the season.