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After high-scoring and low-scoring split with Spokane, Thunder Cats set for playoffs


The Creston Valley Thunder Cats brought their 2023/24 regular season to a close with a two-game home-and-away split with the Spokane Braves, The ‘Cats came away with a 15-goal total over those two games — 14 in Game 1 and one in Game 2.

It’s now set — Creston will face Fernie in the first round of the KIJHL playoffs, starting Friday, Feb. 23, in Fernie.

But earlier, on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Johnny Bucyk Arena, the Thunder Cats scored goals in great bunches against the hapless Braves, pouring 55 total shots on Spokane goalie Andrew Tworkowski to end up with a 14-3 victory.

Max Chakrabarti opened the scoring at 3:42 of the first period, then got his second goal of the game 20 seconds later.

Zach Baumann got Spokane on the board, but Luke Chakrabarti and Austin McLean made it 4-1.

Lance Buell scored shorthanded for the Braves with 30 seconds left in the frame, to make it 4-2.

Luke Chakrabarti got his second of the game 20 seconds into the second period, and Liam Munro made it 6-1 Creston a few minutes later. Nikolai Morrison got his first goal of the game at the midway mark; Max Chakrabarti got his hat trick at 12:20, and Luke Chakrabarti got HIS hat trick at 16:18.

The score going into the third: 9-2 Creston.

Nikolai Morrison got his second of the game to open the third period (at 1:10), followed by Simon Hamilton’s marker one minute later. Morrison got HIS hat trick at the six minute mark, to make it 12-2. Austin McLean got his second of the game at 9:50.

Lance Buell’s second of the game made it 13-3 for Creston, but Luke Chakrabarti finished things off with his FOURTH goal of the game at 17:41.

Only three minor penalties were called all night — two on Spokane (who scored shorthanded in the first) and one on Creston.

Dario Cantini stopped 31 of 34 shots for Creston, while Andrew Tworkowski stopped 41 of 55.

Saturday, Feb. 17, found Creston in Spokane as visitors. This time, they found Tworkowski a lot harder to solve. The ‘Cats put 52 shots on the Braves goalie, but he stopped all but one.

Dante Hughes opened the scoring for Spokane in the first. Luke Chakrabarti tied it up in the second. But it was Ben Humphreys’ power play goal at 16:17 of the second that proved to be the game winner. After a scoreless third, final score 2-1 Spokane over Creston.

And so, on to the playoffs. The Fernie Ghostriders, with a weekend victory over the Kimberley Dynamiters, finished at the top of the Eddie Mountain Division, and will thus take on the fourth seeded Thunder Cats Friday, Feb. 23, with Game 2 on Saturday, Feb. 24. The series moves to Creston for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Kimberley (2) will host the Columbia Valley Rockies (3) to open the playoffs on Friday.

Elsewhere in the KIJHL: in the Neil Murdoch Division, The Beaver Valley Nitehawks play the Nelson Leafs, while the Castlegar Rebels host the Grand Forks Border Bruins.

In the Bill Ohlhausen Division, the Kelowna Chiefs host the Princeton Posse, the the North Okanagan Knights host the Osoyoos Coyotes.

In the Doug Birks Division, the Chase Heat host the Sicamous Eagles, the Kamloops Storm play the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998, and has been part of all those dynamic changes the newspaper industry has gone through over the past 20 years.
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