Last weekend, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats had a strong start to the 2021-22 season in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL).
As the puck dropped on Oct. 1, the team was eager to be back on the ice with an audience after a hiatus during the pandemic.
“It’s a different energy, and it gives us a lot more motivation,” said team captain and returning player Vin Jackson.
“It was a good showing from the crowd at the arena, especially for being 50 per cent capacity and all having to be vaccinated.”
Last season, the Thunder Cats were winless in their three games prior to the cancellation of the KIJHL season.
Since then, the entire team has been vaccinated and mandated to wear masks in and around the rinks.
At Friday’s home opener against the Fernie Ghostriders, the Thunder Cats seemed to be back in good form as they snagged a 4-0 win.
From that game, goalie Harmon Laser-Hume was named the third star of the week in the KIJHL. The Rossland, B.C. native successfully stopped all 34 shots from the Ghostriders. Laser-Hume faced nearly half of those shots in the third period, making 15 stops.
“I think we all came together and played a good game the whole time,” said Jackson.
“Our strength is in our speed, and it makes us a really good team.”
Despite the win, the Thunder Cats are dealing with a great deal of adversity as six players are currently injured, mostly long-term.
They faced tougher competition at Saturday’s home game against the Kimberley Dynamiters losing 5-2.
“We need to not be surprised when a team puts us on our heels and just push forward,” said Jackson.
“With one win and one loss, now we know where to start and know that we can be better. What we need to work on is just how we execute at a high pace, which we showed we can do on Friday night.”
Leading the team for points, Sheldon Kwiatkowski is tied with rookie Adam Redding with three. Rookie defenceman Ethan Boutcher and Reece Nelson lead with two goals.
Next up, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats will take on the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in Fruitvale on Oct. 8.
To see the full schedule and to learn more about buying tickets to the games, visit crestonvalleythundercats.com. You can catch the next home game at the Johnny Bucyk on Oct. 23 up against the Golden Rockets.
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