KIJHL: Win and losses keep Creston Valley Thunder Cats tied for second in division

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The Creston Valley Thunder Cats are still tied for second place in the Eddie Mountain Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League following a win and two losses on the weekend.

One of those losses was to the Fernie Ghostriders, with whom the Thunder Cats are tied. The 7-4 loss came while the Creston team was visiting Fernie Dec. 17 for a game that started out well.

Midway through the second period, the Thunder Cats were up 4-2 after first-period goals by Ian Desrosiers (power play) and Liam Plunkett, and second-period goals by Carson Cartwright (shorthanded) and Grant Iles.

“We had a weird goal go in against us,” said head coach Jeff Dubois. “It ruined our momentum and we had a tough time coming back from that. … We put ourselves in a position where we had some defensive lapses and lapses in focus.”

The Ghostriders ended up tying the score 4-4 by the end of the second period, then added four more goals in the third.

Dubois said despite the loss, he was pleased with the effort by the line of Cartwright, Plunkett and Alec Wilkinson.

“Carson is a guy who’s been one of our best players most nights and he kind of led the way on Thursday,” he said.

On Friday, the Thunder Cats hosted the Kimberley Dynamiters, who lead the division with 55 points and have secured a playoff spot, for a 5-2 victory.

The game started out with a ceremony to retire the jersey of former Thunder Cats captain Jesse Collins — the KIJHL’s all-time high scorer — so “there was a good atmosphere right off the bat,” said Dubois.

The Dynamiters scored the first period’s only goal, but the Thunder Cats took control early in the second period, with Thomas Cankovic scoring twice and Colby Livingstone scoring once in the first eight minutes, before a Kimberley goal on a power play with seven minutes remaining.

The third period was a strong defensive one, said Dubois, and saw a power-play goal by Desrosiers nearly 15 minutes in, and an empty-netter by James Severs with 51 seconds remaining.

“Kimberley’s obviously a team we measure ourselves by, and to get a win on a special night for Jesse and a special night for the organization, that’s a bonus,” said Dubois.

In that game, he said, the line of Severs, Desrosiers and Cankovic made the difference, combining for eight points.

“They were good in all three zones,” he said.

On Saturday, Creston fell behind early in the game while visiting Invermere for a 6-5 loss to the Columbia Valley Rockies.

“It didn’t feel like we came in with a lot of focus,” said Dubois, who noted that’s a problem the team has had on the road lately.

Severs scored midway through the first period to tie the game 1-1, but three Rockies goals in the second period and two in the third put the Thunder Cats down 6-1. That’s when Creston began a comeback, with Maverick Lynes, Severs, Logan Styler and Livingstone scoring in the last 11 minnutes.

“Which shows you what we can do when there’s a sense of urgency, but we didn’t have that enough of the night,” said Dubois. “It was too little too late when we finally made up our minds to get into the game.”

That game saw Desrosiers earn three points for assisting on Severs and Lynes’ goals, a sign that the former Golden Rocket, who played five games there this season, is starting to fit in with Creston.

“Over the last two weeks, he’s really broken out,” said Dubois. “He’s had twelve points in nine games. That’s a good sign for us. Obviously, we’re happy with him getting to where we expect him to be.”

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