Creston Valley Thunder Cats win two to hang on to first place

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Two weekend wins helped the Creston Valley Thunder Cats maintain their first-place position and pull farther ahead in the Eddie Mountain Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

The Thunder Cats now have 28 points, five more than the Fernie Ghostriders, and seven more than their weekend rivals, the Kimberley Dynamiters and Columbia Valley Rockies, who are tied for third place with 21.

Kimberley’s rink is often a difficult one to play in, said Thunder Cats head coach Josh Hepditch, but a “good group effort” resulted in a 5-2 win.

“They’re a tough team and they compete hard,” Hepditch said. “We had two good periods, and then just seemed to explode in the third period.”

Logan Styler scored the Thunder Cats’ first goal at 7:20 in the first period, with two Kimberley goals following before the period’ end. Colby Livingstone tied the game at 4:18 in the second period, with Jaymes Veitch and Styler adding goals in the third period, before Brandon Formosa scored Creston’s fifth, an unassisted empty-netter at 1:03.

Saturday’s 9-6 victory over the Columbia Valley Rockies was a solid team effort, said Hepditch, with every line contributing. The Rockies goaltending suffered later in the game, which also helped.

“We kept scoring and they didn’t,” he said.

Carson Cartwright scored the Thunder Cats’ first goal on a power play at 14:47 in the first period, with Colton St. John and Styler adding goals at 6:50 and 1:32, respectively. Each Creston goal was followed by a Rockies goal for a 3-3 tie at the end of the period.

Cartwright scored a shorthanded goal at the beginning of the second period, and the Rockies bounced back after that with three of their own — which were their last in the game. Jonathon Watt, Styler and Jesse Collins scored to edge ahead of the Rockies 7-2.

The third period saw no scoring until 2:45, when Trevor Hanna scored on a power play, with Marcel Fuchs adding the Thunder Cats’ ninth at 0:53.

Hepdtich credited the line of Hanna, Collins and Formosa with much of the game’s success, with Hanna earning five points in that game, for a total of seven on the weekend. Styler also played well, Hepditch said, with two goals on Friday and four assists on Saturday.

This week, the Thunder Cats are away again, this time for a three-game road trip. On Thursday, they will visit the Golden Rockets, who currently sit at the bottom of the Eddie Mountain Division with 14 points.

“They’re in last place, but they beat us last time we were there,” said Hepditch. “You’ve got to play a full game. They’re not just giving over wins. You have to go in and earn them.”

The same advice holds true, he said, for the Revelstoke Grizzlies when the Thunder Cats visit on Friday night. Despite a bad start to the season, the Grizzlies have been playing well, although they are at the bottom of the Doug Birks Division, with 16 points, 22 behind the first-place Kamloops Storm.

On Saturday, the Thunder Cats finish their road trip by taking on the Sicamous Eagles, in fourth place in the Doug Birks Division with 20 points.

“I think they have a better team than their numbers show,” said Hepdtich. “It’s going to be a tough weekend. These are three games you’ve got to be mentally strong for.”