The Creston Valley Thunder Cats wrapped up the regular season with a 5-4 road win over the Fernie Ghostriders on Sunday night after losing a close 3-2 game to the KIJHL-leading Kimberley Dynamiters on Saturday.
“We wanted to end the regular season with a win, looking to go into the playoffs on a high note,” coach Brad Tobin said on Monday. “We were also playing for our two 20 year olds in Liam Plunkett and Ronnie Wilkie—both were chasing individual accomplishments, with Wilkie looking to hit 50 goals in a season and Plunkett chasing Jesse Collins single season points record.”
Bryce Sturm opened the scoring on Sunday with a power play goal from Dylan Rantucci, and Plunkett (Wilkie and Sturm) made it 2-0 before Ryan Partaker put the Ghosteriders on the board.
Tyler Witzke (Jack McArdle and Wilkie) started off the second frame scoring with another man advantage goal. Darby Berg (Mitchell Wolfe) and Wilkie (Plunkett and Liam Rycroft) put Creston up 5-1 before Greg Susinki scored for Fernie.
Owen Titus and Jordon Kromm scored the only goals in the third period but the Ghostriders’ attempt to tie the game failed despite their 17 shots on backup goaltender Sam Burford.
On Saturday night, a chippy affair that included more than 100 minutes in penalties and misconducts, Plunkett (Wilkie and Sturm) scored the only goal in the first 20 minutes.
“I thought we started off really well, we were controlling play early in the contest,” Tobin said. “But ee lost our legs late in the game, with a short bench to start and some penalty trouble didn’t help our cause.”
James Farmer’s unassisted power play effort put the game into a 1-1 tie after two periods of play. Cam Russell scored a short-handed goal early in the third period and Nicholas Ketola notched the winner before Austin Canete (Carson Small) drew the Thunder Cats within a goal with 3:06 to play in regulation time.
Last Tuesday, in a makeup game for the previous weekend’s canceled game, the Thunder Cats trounced the Columbia Valley Rockies 8-4.
Playoffs start this weekend, with the Thunder Cats hosting the Rockies on Friday and Saturday night, with the teams meeting again in Invermere on Monday and Tuesday. Kimberley takes on the Ghostriders in the other Eddie Mountain Division playoff series.
Creston captain Liam Plunkett capped off a sterling regular season by finishing in top spot in the league’s scoring race with 94 points. Brett Witala of the Kelowna Chiefs finished in second with 91 points and the Thunder Cats’ Ronnie Wilkie wound up in third place with 89 points. He was the top goal scorer, with 48.
Justen James, who missed the last two weeks with an upper body injury, finished in fifth place in KIJHL scoring and will be a game-day decision as to whether he plays on Friday.
Starting goalie Levi Mitchell posted the league’s second best goals against average, 1.98, and boasts a sparkling .935 save percentage.
The Thunder Cats topped KIJHL scoring with 225 goals and finished the season with a +105 goals for/against record. Both stats were the KIJHL’s best.