Despite a strong start to the game, the Columbia Valley Rockies hockey team was battered 8-1 by the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in KIJHL play Saturday, October 29.
The Rockies, coming off of a pair of losses in a home-and-home set of games with the Castlegar Rebels that saw the team lose 6-1 Friday night, opened the game with good pressure, getting several good opportunities on Thunder Cats goalie Michael Halls.
Following a Rockies power-play the Thunder Cats applied some pressure of their own, but it was the Rockies who struck first, when defenceman Brendan Sage threw one on net from the point to put the Rockies up 1-0 midway through the first period. However, that lead was short-lived.
Twenty-one seconds later the Thunder Cats scored on an eerily similar play, when a shot by Cats defenceman Johnathon Watt found its way past Rockies goaltender Travis Beekhuizen.
In what looked to be a close game, the two teams traded chances until, with just over five minutes remaining, the Cats took the lead on a hard slap-shot from forward Jordan Johnson.
This was the beginning of the end for the Rockies, as the Cats put up three more goals before the end of the period, entering intermission leading by a score of 5-1.
“We seemed to get nervous with the lead,” Rockies coach Marc Ward said. “I think we were happy to get the first goal, and then we went away from what was working—we started to take some shortcuts.”
The Rockies began the second frame much as they did the first, controlling the pace of play and getting good opportunities, but again seemed to fade as the period went on.
Following a Rockies two-on-one the Thunder Cats pushed the puck back up ice for an odd-man rush of their own and put home their sixth tally of the night past beleaguered goalie Beekhuizen.
Another goal just over a minute later led to Beekhuizen being pulled in favour of Bruce Corrigal, but it made little difference, as the Cats added to their lead 30 seconds later to go up 8-1.
“(We’d like to focus on) consistency, that’s been our biggest issue this year,” Ward said. “We’re going to continue to get better, but we still need more players—we haven’t played with a full roster yet this year. We’re doing a lot of the right things, we’ve changed the culture, we’ve changed the program, but it takes time to build, just like anything.”
The loss puts the Rockies at 1-16-0-1 on the year; the Thunder Cats improve to 8-7-0-1.
The Rockies head into a four-game road trip, beginning with a trip to the Art Holding Memorial Arena, home of the Chase Heat, on Friday. Also on the agenda are games against the Kamloops Storm, the North Okanagan Knights and another tilt against the Thunder Cats on November 10. The team isn’t back at home until Friday, November 18 when they’ll play the Golden Rockets.