The Columbia Valley Rockies will have to look to the future for the end of their ongoing seven-game losing streak after falling to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats 9-2 last Tuesday at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena.
Despite the wide score margin, head coach Wade Dubielewicz said he thought the game was much closer than it appeared on the box score.
“I don’t, I really don’t actually,” he said. “To be honest with you, after the game I was a bit surprised with the score, but again it comes down to making bad decisions with the puck against a team that has impeccable finish.”
The Rockies did start out the game with a flash of intensity, pushing the first place Thunder Cats in both the offensive and defensive zone. A little over halfway through the first period, however, the Rockies took an entire shift off allowing the Thunder Cats to pepper goaltender Will McCreight with shot after shot before Chase Hawkins had the opportunity to clear the puck for a change. Instead, the forward made a soft pass through the middle of the ice that was intercepted by the Thunder Cats to take a 1-0 lead.
“We’ve game planned for each team individually and what we did on the defensive zone face off is not what we’ve been consistently been doing,” he said. “Once you get running around against a team that is skilled and fast, it’s pretty hard to recover because there’s a sense of panic and everyone is running around.”
From there, the Thunder Cats would add four more unanswered goals through nearly two periods before the Rockies showed any sign of life. It was late in the second period on the powerplay that the Rockies awoke as Riley Knott erased the Rockies’ goose-egg on the scoreboard to make it 5-1. Tyler Bordt would also added another power-play goal in the third period to shorten the lead to 6-2.
Dubielewicz said the two power-play goals on the evening are a sign of comfort that good things are coming in the future after the team struggled mightily in the first half of the season with a man advantage.
“That’s definitely a sense of relief,” he said. “Our power-play percentage is horribly low and I think it’s probably cost us 15 to 20 points to be honest this year for the whole reason that in those tight games it comes down to special teams. For the most part, 5-on-5 we’ve hung in there with teams but our special teams haven’t been to the level they need to be and it shows.”
Special teams weren’t the reason the Rockies lost Tuesday’s game however. Instead it was a mirage of complacent defensive moves that exposed the Rockies and allowed the Thunder Cats to score goal after goal.
“When we play Creston, a lot of the focus is on managing the puck. No other team makes us pay for making bad decisions as much as Creston does,” he said. “We were doing some good things through the neutral zone and had some chemistry with a couple lines, but again a bit of complacency with a few guys defensively isn’t going to work against a team of that caliber.”
By The Echo’s deadline on Friday, December 16th, the Rockies were still in search of a victory facing the Kimberley Dynamiters on the Friday evening before returning home to face the last place Golden Rockets on Saturday night.