Creston Valley Thunder Cats have a one-point hold on second place in the Eddie Mountain Division after splitting a pair of games on the weekend.
Now sitting with a healthy 7-2 record, Creston leads the Fernie Ghostriders by a point, but is 6 points back of the red hot Kimberley Dynamiters, who have three games in hand.
The Thunder Cats got a taste of just how hot the Dynamiters are when they were shut out 4-0 in Kimberley on Friday night. Kimberley took a 1-0 lead into the second period, when they added a second goal. Two more goals in the third period put the game away for the division leaders, who are now 9-1.
Cats’ goaltender Brock Lefebvre stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced and Carson Cartwright was named the team’s star of the game.
“We had a pretty good first and second period, but we weren’t very happy with the way we finished the game,” coach Jeff Dubois said on Monday. “The Kimberley goalie had an excellent game. For us it was case of working hard but not smart offensively.”
Back in the friendly confines of John Bucyk Arena on Saturday night, the Thunder Cats were in no mood to take another loss. They took out their frustrations on Neil Murdoch Division cellar dwelling Spokane Braves and walked away with a 10-1 win.
“We were in a pretty grumpy mood on Saturday night and the emotion worked in our favour,” Dubois said. “We got pucks to the net and created lots of second and third chances.
“We had a really good crowd and it was good to go into Thanksgiving on a high note.”
Jake Livingstone put the Cats on the scoreboard midway through the first period, and Lien Miller-Jeannotte started out on his hat-trick before Kurtis Redding put the Braves close with 35 seconds left. But Alec Wilkinson’s goal with only 4 ticks left on the score clock gave Creston a 3-1 cushion.
Smelling blood, the Thunder Cats stormed out in the middle frame, adding 6 goals to their lead. Miller-Jeannotte scored again a minute into the period and then Liam Plunkett put up a short-handed goal to put Creston ahead 5-1. With less than five minutes to go in the period, Creston poured in another four markers. Jack Berger, Austin Dean, Cartwright (on the power play) and Logum Wullum all scored.
Miller-Jeannotte put up the only goal of third period, completing his hat trick and earning him first star honours. Lefebvre stopped all but one of the 26 shots he faced.
Wilkinson earned 4 assists in the game and his 5-point night pushed his season total to 21, good for a second place tie in the scoring race. Leading the pack with 24 points is Cole Keebler of the Ghostriders. Rainer Glimpel of the Osoyoos Coyotes and Kimberley’s Jason Richter are tied witih Wilkinson with 21 points each.
Elsewhere in the KIJHL, Kamloops Storm are off to an even hotter start than Kimberley, having jumped out to a 10-1 record to assume first place in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference. Chase Heat are second in the western conference. In the Kootenay Conference Neil Murdoch Division, Beaver Valley and Castlegar lead the way with identical 8-2 records.
The Thunder Cats have a busy stretch coming up as they visit Fernie on Friday night before returning home to host a return match with the Ghostriders on Saturday night and then Columbia Valley, which is currently winless, on Tuesday night.