Creston Valley Thunder Cats forward Trevor Hanna during Friday’s game

Creston Valley Thunder Cats take first place in KIJHL division

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The Creston Valley Thunder Cats are at the top of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Eddie Mountain Division after two victories over the Kimberley Dynamiters on the weekend.

The first was a 5-2 win at Creston’s John Bucyk Arena, which saw the teams fairly evenly matched in the early portion of the game.

“It was as tight game all the way through until the third period, and then we kind of exploded,” said head coach Josh Hepditch.

Scoring started at 15:09 in the first period, when Marcel Fuchs scored a shorthanded goal for the Thunder Cats.

“It was his first of the year and a big way to get things going for us,” said Hepditch.

Trevor Hanna and Brandon Formosa netted power-play goals in the second period, with the Dynamiters’ first goal in between. After a Dynamiters’ power-play goal early in the third period, Tyler Podgorenko and Hanna added two more to the Thunder Cats’ score.

Goalie Brock Lefebvre played well in net, Hepditch noted, blocking all but two of the Dynamiters’ 27 shots.

On Saturday, the Thunder Cats visited the Dynamiters, ready for a game that could allow them to pull three points ahead of the second-place Kimberley team.

“It was a war, that’s for sure,” said Hepditch of the 5-2 win. “We knew if we didn’t get two points there, Friday night’s game was a waste.”

As with the previous night’s game, the Thunder Cats really hit their stride in the third period. The Dynamiters scored late in the first period, and Logan Styler made a power-play goal for the Thunder Cats in the middle of the second, tying the score 1-1 going into the third.

The third period started with a Kimberley goal, but that was followed by Thunder Cats goals by Styler, Hanna, Colby Livingstone and Formosa, with all but Hanna’s scored on power plays — which totalled four for eight for the Thunder Cats that night.

“That was the difference in that game, really,” said Hepditch. “Kimberley played really well both nights, so that was the confidence builder.”

After those games, the Thunder Cats have 22 points, and second-place Kimberley has 19, tied with the Fernie Ghostriders. The Columbia Valley Rockies have 17 points, with the Golden Rockets at the bottom of the division with 14.

This weekend, the Thunder Cats stay home for three games, hosting the Kamloops Storm on Friday, the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Saturday and the Nelson Leafs on Sunday. Kamloops and Nelson are at the top of their divisions, with 26 and 32 points, respectively.

“It definitely doesn’t get easier, that’s for sure,” said Hepditch. “Every team is going to be gunning for you now. You can’t take any nights off. It won’t be in your favour.”

But this weekend is also parents’ weekend for the Thunder Cats, who will enjoy a rare chance to play in front of visiting family and friends. And all fans are encouraged to wear white to Friday’s game to show support for the local team with a “white out”.

“It will definitely be fun for them, and definitely fun for the kids, as well,” said Hepditch.

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