KIJHL: Creston Valley Thunder Cats win two on opening weekend

Web Lead

The Creston Valley Thunder Cats started the season with a bang, winning both games in a two-game weekend road trip to Chase and Sicamous.

“It’s good to get that in right at the beginning of the year,” said Thunder Cats head coach Jeff Dubois. “You set the team at the beginning of the week, and then you have time to get away and do some bonding.”

The road trip took the Creston team to Chase on Friday, where they earned a 3-2 victory over the Chase Heat.

Scoring started with a Heat goal early in the second period. It was quickly followed by Creston goals by Logan Wullum and Liam Plunkett, with Jayden Smith adding a third with 1:55 remaining.

In the third period, “Chase did a pretty good job of dialing up the pressure, so we had to battle to maintain that lead,” said Dubois.

Chase scored only one more goal, with three minutes left in the third period.

Dubois was pleased to see Albertans Plunkett and Smith score their first Kootenay International Junior Hockey League goals in that game.

“We’ve brought in some guys we were really hoping could be involved offensively and make an impact at that end of the ice,” he said. “To see those guys get off to a good start was impressive.”

Now in his fourth season with the Thunder Cats, 18-year-old goalie Brock Lefebvre was instrumental in the victory, blocking 45 Chase shots.

“He made a handful of big stops, and certainly was full value for the win,” said Dubois.

On Saturday, the Thunder Cats earned a 7-3 win over the Sicamous Eagles, thanks to Carson Cartwright, James Severs, Austin Steger and Alec Wilkinson, who scored five power-play goals.

“It’s pretty impressive to see them working at so high a level so early in the season,” said Dubois.

The Thunder Cats scored three goals in the first period, one by Wilkinson and two power-play goals by Severs. In the second, the Eagles scored three goals, with Wilkinson adding a power-play goal at 2:45. Cartwright and Steger scored power-play goals in the third period, with Plunkett adding a third in that period.

Dubois offered kudos to Plunkett, who double-shifted after Jack Berger was ejected after a fight, and to blue-liner Marc Gagnon.

“[Gagnon] had a real good start to both games, getting his feet moving, making smart plays,” said Dubois. “He was really strong and really visible in both games.”

This weekend, the Thunder Cats play their home opener, hosting the Fernie Ghostriders, who split their season-opening weekend with a win and a loss to, respectively, the Nelson Leafs and Castlegar Rebels.

“Having a division rival like Fernie first up on the home schedule is a great opportunity for us to come out real strong on and show fans what we’ve got against a really good team,” said Dubois.