After spending most of the season looking down at all teams in the KIJHL standings, two weekend losses have dropped the Creston Valley Thunder Cats into second place in the Eddie Mountain Division.
It promised to be a challenging weekend, with the Thunder Cats set to take on two of the league’s strongest teams with their top goaltender unavailable. But even the players might have been surprised at a lack of scoring power trend that started with a 4-2 loss in Nelson the previous week.
But even four goals weren’t enough to overcome a 3-0 deficit after 38 minutes when the Cats took on the Dynamiters in Kimberley. James Farmer and Chase Miller put the home team up by two after one period and in the second and Miller’s second goal gave Kimberley a lead they managed to hold on to.
Justin James (Brodie Smith) and Bryce Sturm (Liam Plunkett) narrowed the margin to 3-2 after two periods, but that was as close as Creston would get.
Devon Langelaar and Korbyn Chabot scored in the first five minutes of the final frame to put their team up 5-2.
Paxton Malone (Thomas Cankovic and Ronnie Wilkie) and Bryce Sturm (Plunkett and Cole Arcuri) sandwiched goals around Chabot’s second marker and it was game over.
Patrick Osterman, the only goalie to dress on the weekend, stopped 24 of 29 shots.
Another game on the road resulted in a third consecutive loss, this one to the Neil Murdoch Division-leading Beaver Valley Nighthawks.
Damon Kramer gave the Nighthawks a 1-0 lead after the opening frame, but Liam Plunkett (Sebastien Kilcommons) tied with 6:41 to go in the second period with a short-handed effort. That would be the end of Creston’s scoring, though. Devin Ghiardosi scored the eventual game winner three minutes later.
Ghiardosi, Mitch Foyle and Dylan Heppler added third period markers to seal the deal.
Both teams managed 37 shots on goal, but Osterman was only able to stop 32 of the ones he faced. It was a chippy game, with 19 minor penalties and three 10-minute misconducts handed out.
Creston and Kimberley now have 42 points each, with the Dynamiters in top spot thanks to a one-game advantage in the win column. Beaver Valley also has 42 points, but has three games in hand over their Eddie Mountain Division foes. Top spot in the league is now held by the Osoyoos Coyotes, whose 43 points top the Okanagan Division. The Coyotes also have two games in hand over Creston and Kimberley.
The Thunder Cats host the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Friday night before travelling to Fernie to take on the Ghostriders on Saturday night.
The teams then have a two-week Christmas break before action resumes on New Year’s Eve, when Creston hosts Fernie.
Thunder Cats coach Jeff Dubois was unavailable for comment before deadline.