The Creston Valley Thunder Cats are still in fourth place in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Eddie Mountain Division after splitting their weekend games.
They lost 7-2 to the Kimberley Dynamiters on Saturday, which followed an 8-2 win over the visiting Osoyoos Coyotes on Friday.
“They’re first in their division and second in the entire league, so it was definitely a good confidence boost for us,” said head coach Josh Hepditch.
The Coyotes led the scoring with a goal late in the first period, followed by goals at 1:22 by Darcy Flaherty and 1:05 by Tyler Akeroyd. The pair scored again at either end of the second period — Akeroyd early and Flaherty late — with a Coyotes goal and a power-play goal by Creston’s Jesse Collins in between.
The Thunder Cats dominated the third period, with goals by Creston native Matti Jmaeff (power play), Collins and Marcel Fuchs, who scored a power-play goal with 23 seconds left in the game.
“Our special teams were really good,” said Hepditch. “We were three for eight on the power play.”
He was impressed to see all of the team’s line producing, but particularly that of Flaherty, Akeroyd and Brady Ward, who earned 11 points between them.
And he was pleased with the progress of Jmaeff, a former affiliate player for the Thunder Cats who returned from the Nelson Leafs for the previous week’s games.
“He’s made a great first impression,” said Hepditch. “He’s getting better every game.”
Things were different the next night, when the Kimberley Dynamiters visited and beat the Thunder Cats 7-2.
“We went from one end of the measuring stick to the other,” said Hepditch.
Kimberly started the scoring four minutes in, then followed a Thunder Cats goal by Trevor LeBlanc with two more. Trevor Hanna scored a second on a power play for the Thunder Cats, but the Dynamiters added a fourth and fifth a few minutes before the period ended.
“I don’t think the score reflects the actual game itself,” said Hepditch. “Three of them were bad-bounce goals. But I’m not taking away anything from Kimberley; they really outworked us in the first period.”
The rest of the game was fairly even, he said, with Kimberley scoring once in each of the second and third periods.
But the important point for the team to take away from the weekend was Friday’s victory.
“Friday just shows that we can play with the best of them and beat the best of them if we stick to our game plan,” he said.
This weekend will see the Thunder Cats play two important divisional games, both against the Columbia Valley Rockies, in Invermere on Friday and at home on Saturday.
With 13 points, the Rockies are three points behind the Thunder Cats in the Eddie Mountain Division, with the Golden Rockets (19), Fernie Ghostriders (23) and Kimberley Dynamiters (24) ahead.
The Thunder Cats beat the Rockies 3-0 in their only match of the season in September, but that’s no reason to relax.
“Every two points is huge,” said Hepditch. “You can go almost from top to bottom in couple of weekends. We have to play our A game every game in our division or we’re not going to be successful.”