After a loss at home the previous weekend, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats earned two wins at home on Friday and Saturday, shutting out the 100 Mile House Wranglers 5-0 and beating the Columbia Valley Rockies 3-1.
Thunder Cats head coach Jeff Dubois credited the team for making the most of power-play opportunities to beat the Wranglers, visiting from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Doug Birks Division.
“It took what probably would have been a pretty tight game and made it a bit of a lopsided score,” he said. “One Hundred Mile is as physical a team as we’ve seen in a while. They’re a pretty tough group — they finished every check. We knew that going in, but still, it was a bit of an adjustment for our guys.”
Jackson Bruce-Fuoco scored the first two power-play goals, with 9:41 and 8:59 remaining in the first period. Lien Miller-Jeannotte scored another power play goal with just over a minute left. In the second period, Alec Wilkinson scored at 3:49, and Carson Cartwright added a fourth power-play goal at 0:50.
Thunder Cats goalie Brock Lefebvre “had to make some real good stops,” said Dubois, blocking 27 in the game.
Dubois wasn’t happy with the first 40 minutes of Saturday’s game, when Creston hosted the Rockies.
“It was our first time seeing Columbia Valley this year, and they’ve definitely got a more skilled group than they did last season,” he said. “We found ourselves getting into a pretty scrambly game, getting away from doing things we do well.”
Cartwright scored the first Creston goal with 1:06 remaining in the first period, followed closely by the Rockies’ first goal. McConnell Kimmett scored the second Creston goal in the second period.
Creston started to take control in the third period, when Miller-Jeannotte scored the game’s final goal, “but it was definitely a long way from what we consider to be our best hockey,” said Dubois.
Although the Thunder Cats have been “pretty clean and organized” in the defensive zone, “we got away from that on Saturday,” said Dubois. And offensively, “we were trying to find the perfect play rather than getting pucks to net.”
He was pleased, though, with the efforts of Logan Wullum and Nicholas Kovacik, who were effective on the team’s penalty killing, which stand at over 90 per cent.
“How good we’ve been at killing penalties has been a big part of our success,” he said.
This weekend, the Thunder Cats play at home again, hosting the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Friday and the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Sunday.
“They’re a pretty young, hardworking team,” said Dubois of the Border Bruins, and noted the last time they played, the teams tied 4-4 in a pre-season exhibition game. “They’ll definitely be a good test in terms of where our work ethic is going to be and making sure we don’t let them come in and set the pace.”
Sunday’s game will mark the first time since Dubios has been head coach that Creston will take on Revelstoke. The Grizzlies have had two wins and three losses this season — compared to Creston’s 4-1 record — but the team will do some research to prepare.
“We’re going to see some video this week, and we’ll be ready,” said Dubois.