If hockey games were determined by judges, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats just might be ahead in their playoff series against the Kimberley Dynamiters.
“Other than the first game of the series, I believe we’ve been the better team so far,” assistant coach Brad Tobin said on Sunday. “The results haven’t shown that and it’s been frustrating the bounces that we’ve had to try and overcome. We have a group that knows we can win three straight against Kimberley.”
And three straight wins is what it will take to keep the T-Cats playing into the next round of post-season play. Two hard-fought losses have put the Creston Valley team on the brink of elimination in the KIJHL Eddie Mountain Division final.
Fortunately, Creston defeated their traditional nemesis in Game 5 to narrow the series gap to 3-2.
Brock Lefebvre put up a shutout at home on Monday night, leading his team to a 3-0 win before a crowd of 401 at the John Bucyk Arena. Justen James opened the scoring 6:23 into the game on an assist from Aiden Wong.
A power play goal from Ronnie Wilkie (Cole Arcuri and Thomas Cankovic) was the only goal of the second period. Grant Iles (Arcuri) scored into an empty net late in the third to put away the Dynamiters.
Lefebvre stopped 32 shots for the shutout.
After splitting the first two games of the series at home last week, Creston went into Kimberley’s Civic Centre on the weekend and came away with nothing to show except frustration for two nail-biting games, both of which went into overtime.
On Friday night, Creston was down 1-0 after 20 minutes of play, thanks to a power play opening goal by Matt Davies.
The Thunder Cats tied it up with a man advantage goal of their own, though, when Ronnie Wilkins scored from Thomas Cankovic and Jonathan Lee. Luke Kalenuik (McConnell Kimmett and Lien Milller-Jeannotte) put the T-Cats into a short-lived 2-1 lead, but another penalty once again cost the good guys. Nic Herringer scored with 3:28 left in the middle period.
Nolan Kurylo gave Kimberley a 3-2 lead early in the third period, but Cole Arcurie put the game into a 3-3 tie at the 10:42 mark with the game’s fourth power play effort. Assists were awarded to Austin Anselmo and Ronnie Wilkie.
The teams failed to score in the first overtime, but Kimberley finished the game off only 34 seconds into the second OT, with Kurylo netting the winner.
Kimberley outshot Creston 38-36 before an announced crowd of 917.
On Saturday, Wilkie opened the scoring in the first period, on assists from Tyler Severson and Arcuri.
In the second period, Joe Karpyshyn and Justen James (Paxton Malone and Bryce Sturm) exchanged goals, putting Creston one goal up after 40 minutes.
Tyler Van Steinburg doused the lead with only 48 seconds left in regulation time, though, once again sending the teams into overtime.
After nearly 16 minutes of extra time, Kurylo was once again the hometown hero, with his second OT winner in 24 hours.
Creston might have deserved a better fate, outshooting the Dynamiters 42-30, but Cody Campbell proved to be too tough in goal on the night.
The teams resumed play on Tuesday night in Kimberley, after the Advance went to press.