3 more wins keep Thunder Cats on top

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Creston Valley Thunder Cats

A solid three-win week has given the Creston Valley Thunder Cats some breathing room atop the KIJHL Eddie Mountain Division.

Creston’s balanced attack led the team to wins by 6-2, 5-2 and 6-1 margins to give them 40 points on the season, the first KIJHL team to hit that milestone.

Creston Valley Thunder Cats started out the three-game week with a solid 6-2 road win over Columbia Valley Rockies on Tuesday night.

The Rockies jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Tyler Bordt scored, but a power play goal by Justen James (Sebastian Kilcommons and Tyler Severson) finished the first period scoring and put the Thunder Cats on a roll.

Kilcommons notched another power play goal early in the second, with assists from Julian Benner and Thomas Cankovic. Two more markers, by Lien Miller-Jeannotte (James and Aiden Wong) and Brodie Smith (Kilcommons) put the visitors into a comfortable 4-1 lead.

Five minutes into the third period a goal by Bryce Sturm (Miller-Jeannotte and Kilcommons) kept the pressure on. Less than a minute later, Creston’s Brody Ryan scored his first goal of the season, with Cankovic and Benner providing the helpers.

A short-handed effort by the Rockies by Riley Knott half way through the final frame proved to be too little, too late for the home side.

Kilcommons had a four-point night for Creston and Brock Lefebvre stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced.

Back home in the friendly confines of John Bucyk Arena against the always tough Fernie Ghostriders on Friday night, the Cats had a 3-0 lead in the second period before surrending  a power play goal by Tristan Downe.

Smith (Cankovic and Kilcommons) scored the only first period goal. Ronnie Wilkie (James and Jonathan Lee) and James (Wilkie and Cankovic) scored middle frame goals for the home side.

Smith (Jake Livingstone and McConnell Kimmett) made the score 4-1 before Fernie’s Aidan Wilson and Creston’s Smith, with his hat trick goal from Luke Kalenuik and Liam Plunkett, traded markers.

Brock Lefebvre, who has been getting the bulk of the work in goal in recent Thunder Cat games, picked up the win, stopping 34 of 36 shots.

Saturday night in Spokane, the teams skated off at the first intermission tied 1-1. Wilke (Mitchell Wolfe and Liam Rycroft) opened the scoring early, but Carter Jones tied the game for the Braves with a minute remaining.

It was all Creston after that. Plunkett (Livingstone), Sturm (Miller-Jeannotte) and Smith (unassisted) put the Thunder Cats up 4-1 after two periods.

Wolfe (Kalenuik and Smith) and Kalenuik (Cankovic) helped seal the win with third period goals.

Lefebvre earned another with, stopping 20 of 21 shots, and back up goalie Jason Ellingsen worked 6:04 without giving up a goal on two shots.

Plunkett now leads Creston with 31 points in 25 games. Hot on his heels is James, a rookie, who is earning 1.5 points a game. He now has 30 points in 20 games, and is tied for the team lead with 11 goals, along with Aiden Wong, another rookie. Plunkett and James are in the league’s top 20 scorers. James is also second on the Cats with 64 penalty minutes, behind only Jonathan Lee’s 71 minutes. Lefebvre has 14 wins and a tie in 20 starts, with a 2.48 goals against average, good for sixth place in the league.

Creston hosts the Castlegar Rebels on Friday night, then goes west for a Saturday night tilt against the Nelson Maple Leafs.

Coach Jeff Dubois was unavailable for comment before deadline.

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