With two wins on the weekend, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats maintained their second-place ranking in the Eddie Mountain Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
With 12 points and three games in hand, the Creston team sits behind the Kimberley Dynamiters, with 16 points, and ahead of the Fernie Ghostriders, with nine.
Fridays’ game was a 3-1 victory over the Grand Forks Border Bruins, with Nicholas Kovacik, James Severs and Alec Wilkinsonn scoring Creston’s goals in the first period.
“We weren’t as happy with our last 40 minutes,” said head coach Jeff Dubois. “We got off to a good start and probably thought it was going to be easy the rest of the way, and didn’t respect the fact that Grand Forks works hard. …
“Sometimes, guys take for granted when you’re a team near the top of the standings that all you have to do is put on the uniform and go out for a skate and bring home two points. The truth is, that’s not how it works.”
Dubois was pleased with the effort of goalie Jason Mailhiot, who stopped 26 Grand Forks shots, and the work ethic and energy of the line of Kovacik, Liam Plunkett and Dylan Hogue. Creston product Brody Ryan played his first game, creating scoring chances and making “good decisions with the puck.”
That game was also the first for newcomers Ian Desrosier, acquired by trading Liam Bell and Kyle Rosolowski to the Golden Rockets, and Reid Robertson, a former Border Bruins traded for Trey Mason.
Desrosier, Dubois said, was a top scorer last season and Golden’s captain this season prior to the trade, and created several scoring chances in his Creston games.
“He’s a guy we think is gonna be a big part of our offense,” said Dubois.
At six feet, four inches and 210 pounds, the 19-year-old Desrosier “gives us a bit of a different look. He’s also a real smart puck mover and makes a good first pass.”
After a team meeting, Sunday’s effort against the Revelstoke Grizzlies was an improvement.
“I thought we did a much better job in terms of the little things you need to do to win games,” said Dubois.
Lien Miller-Jeannotte scored Creston’s first goal a minute into the game, with Jackson Bruce-Fuoco following five minutes later with a power-play goal. Ten minutes after Revelstoke’s only goal, Carson Cartwright scored with two minutes left in the period.
In the second period, Kovacik scored the Thunder Cats’ fourth goal on a power play with 0:57 remaining, and Jake Livingstone scored an unassisted empty-netter with 0:29 left in the third period.
Creston’s defence was strong in that game, said Dubois.
“All six of our guys came to the battle and were making pretty smart plays,” he said.
This weekend, the Thunder Cats host the Spokane Braves on Saturday, but first travel to Kimberley on Friday to take on the Dymamiters.
“We’re excited to see Kimberley for the first time,” Dubois said. “They’ve gotten off to a good start. We always use them as a measuring stick — everyone in the division does. … It’s going to be exciting for new guys to experience that rivalry for the first time.”