Creston Valley Thunder Cats returned home from a three-game road trip early Monday morning to find themselves in first place in the KIJHL Eddie Mountain Division.
The Thunder Cats won their first two games, in Kamloops and 100 Mile House before narrowly going down to defeat in Chase on Sunday.
A 6-4 win in Kamloops started the Cats off to a strong road trip but it didn’t come easily. Creston’s Carson Cartwright finally put his team ahead 5-4 in the third period on a goal assisted by Connor Ward. Brandon Formosa sealed the deal with an empty netter after taking a pass from Andrew Hodder.
Kamloops had jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first, but an unassisted effort from Maverick Lynes put the game into a tie when the teams skated off the ice at intermission.
The Cats scored the first two goals in the middle frame, with goals by Jesse Collins and Logan Styler. Kamloops roared back to tie the game at 4-4 before Wyatt Petryshen scored.
Creston goaltender Magnus Viberg faced 41 shots on goal, while the Thunder Cats managed only 20 shots on their opponent.
On Saturday a three-hour drive northwest to 100 Mile House was rewarded when the Cats cruised to a 5-2 win over the hometown Wranglers.
Trevor Hanna notched the only goal in the first period.
After the Wranglers evened the game at 1-1 early in the second period, a three-goal outburst put Creston in the driver’s seat. Colby Livingstone, Matthew Murray and Brandon Formosa put the Cats up 4-1 after two periods.
Collins added to Creston’s lead in the third on an assist from Hanna before Viberg gave up a goal and the Cats cruised to victory.
Game stats showed Creston being outshot 41-20 and Viberg had a strong game in net.
Hopes for a road sweep were dashed on Sunday when the Chase Heat put the run on the Thunder Cats, riding a third period rally to a 7-5 victory.
The teams alternated scoring in a five-goal opening frame, with Chase getting the first and last laugh. Livingstone scored both Cats’ goals..
Creston regained the lead in the second period when Formosa and Styler scored. A power play goal by Chase sent the teams into the dressing room tied at 4-4.
Two early third period goals put the Heat up for good, though. Collins’ unassisted effort drew the Thunder Cats to within a goal, but Chase iced the game with an empty netter.
Brock Lefebvre faced 40 shots in goal for Creston.
Creston sits alone atop the Eddie Mountain Division with 12 points in 9 games. Kimberley Dynamiters are a point behind, but have 2 games in hand. Columbia Valley has 10 points in 9 games to sit in third place in the close division race.
The Thunder Cats visit the Fernie Ghostriders on Friday and then don’t lace up their games skates again until Tuesday, when they play host to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, who are off to a strong 6-1 start and second place in the league’s Neil Murdoch Division.