With 13 points, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats are tied with the Golden Rockets for third place in the Eddie Mountain Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League following an overtime loss and a win.
They sit just behind the Kimberley Dynamiters, with 18 points, and nine points behind the Fernie Ghostriders.
The Cats took on the Dynamiters twice this weekend, losing 5-4 on Friday in Kimberley, but beating them 3-2 in Creston the next day.
“It was a good game,” said head coach Brent Heaven of Friday’s loss. “The lead changed back and forth a few times.”
Scoring was started by the Dynamiters on a power play, but Thunder Cats Scott Swiston and Jovi Fabbri followed with goals of their own, Fabbri’s on a power play 35 second before the first period ended. The Dynamiters scored the next two, one in the second and one early in the third period. Thunder Cats Trevor Forward and Brandon Formosa each scored for a 4-3 lead in the third period before the Dynamiters tied the score with two minutes left. The game went into double overtime, which ended with Kimberley’s Jared Marchi scoring the game-winner.
Despite the 5-4 loss, Heaven was pleased with the outcome.
“We were able to get one point out of that one,” he said. “Compared to the last time we played there, when we lost 15-5, it was a good game, and set the stage for the game at home on Saturday.”
With Saturday’s game at the John Bucyk Arena, Kimberley again led the scoring in a power-play goal early in the first period. Creston’s Jesse Collins scored with five minutes left in the period, followed by another Kimberly goal. Kimberley hung on to the 2-1 lead for half of the second period before Fabbri scored on a power play, with For-ward scoring the game-winner with four seconds left in the period.
“It was the same type of game, a very entertaining, aggressive game,” said Heaven.
The close games are a sign of the team’s progress, he said, and are a sign of good things to come.
“We’re starting to head in the right direction now,” he said. “Obviously, we had some struggles early, but you’re going to have that when you have 15 rookies. It takes time for everyone to get into the systems and know what’s going on.”
This weekend, the Thunder Cats play at home on Friday, where they will be visited by the Neil Murdoch Division-leading Nelson Leafs, to whom they lost 6-5 in their last match.
“But we outshot and outchanced them,” said Heaven. “Hopefully we’ll play a strong game and continue to build on the weekend we had.”
The Thunder Cats travel to Invermere on Saturday to take on the Columbia Valley Rockies, who with three points, bring up the rear in the Eddie Mountain Division after earning their first win this weekend over the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
“We’ve got to worry about playing our game,” Heaven said. “We’ve got to force them to play at our level and if they can’t they don’t deserve the two points against us.”