With many of their parents in the crowd, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats dropped a 3-2 decision against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Friday night.
It was the team’s first official loss of the season, but it was enough to let Kimberley into a tie for top spot in the Eddie Mountain Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Perhaps signaling bad things to come, the Thunder Cats didn’t get off to their usual quick start, and the teams failed to score in the first period.
Coach Jeff Dubois was blunt in his assessment on Sunday. The best thing about the game?
“It ended,” he said. “I was disappointed by our effort for most of the night, particularly in the tough areas like the corners and around their net. We didn’t bring the compete level or physicality that you need to beat a very good team like Beaver Valley.”
Beaver Valley went up 2-0 early in the second period when Kyle Hope and Tyler Hartman scored before the frame was three minutes old.
Kyle Bergh scored twice to notch the score, though, getting assists from Julian Benner and Sebastien Kilcommons on his first goal and Dylan Kent on his second.
Devin Nemes gave the Nitehawks a lead they would not relinquish with 6:54 to go in the second.
Both teams were credited with 29 shots on goal, and Creston’s Brock Lefebvre took his first loss on the season.
Creston took out their frustrations on the Nelson Maple Leafs the following night, sailing to a 7-1 victory in a penalty-filled affair. Good thing, too, because most of the players’ parents were in Creston to enjoy the two home games and be thanked by the team.
The Cats jumped off to a 3-0 lead against Nelson in front of a crowd of more than 300. Thomas Cankovic (Aiden Wong and Justen James), Brodie Smith (Liam Plunkett and Sebastian Kilcommons) and Jake Livingston (Grant Iles and Plunkett) all scored before the game was seven minutes old.
Nelson’s Ryan Piva put his team on the scoreboard with a shorthanded marker, but Wong (Livingston and Cankovic) got that one back before Grant Iles notched a pair of goals, with helpers from Plunkett and James on the first and Plunkett and Patrick Ostermann on the second.
Cankovic picked up his second score with 5:27 remaining in the game on assists from James and Mitchell Wolfe.
The game’s scorekeeper and referee were kept busy after Creston took the first period’s only three minor penalties. The second period featured five minors, two fighting majors and four game misconducts, with Lien-Miller Jeannotte and Jonathan Lee getting tossed for Creston.
The final frame was even busier. Ten minor penalties, nine five-minute majors and nine game misconducts filled the scoresheet. Lee, Liam Rycroft, James and Luke Kalenuik all got game misconducts for their part in a brawl with less than five minutes to play.
Backup goaltender Patrick Osterman continued to make the best of his starts, giving up only a goal on 16 shots.
“We rebounded nicely from a poor effort on Friday,” Dubois said. “We were excellent in the first 10 minutes and played with the speed and pressure that can make us tough to handle. We let off a bit in the second half of the first period but came back strong in the second period and gave up very little defensively the rest of the way.”
He made special mention about one player who came back after an injury and another who was playing against his former team.
“Grant Iles hurt his foot blocking a shot in the first period but came back out for the second and scored a couple of big goals. Patrick Ostermann was very good in net when he needed to be against his old team”.
Kimberley also won on Saturday, and is now tied for first place with Creston, each team having 26 points. Technically, the Dynamiters are on top, having 13 wins to the Thunder Cats 12.
Mayor Ron Toyota was full of compliments for the Thunder Cats organization after he attended a Saturday afternoon brunch to honour the players’ parents.
“This was a very well organized event and visitors to our Creston Valley were very impressed,” he said. “I gave out Town pins to every Thunder Cats player, their parents and
About 100 people attended the event in the Creston Room at Creston & District Community Complex.
Creston travels to Kimberley for a Friday night game this week, then moves on to Golden to take on the Rockets on Saturday.