Creston Valley Thunder Cats have advanced to the second round in the KIJHL playoffs by completing a four game sweep of the Columbia Valley Rockies on February 28.
The Thunder Cats will now continue with a traditional matchup against the Kimberley Dynamiters, who were taken to six games in their opening round series against the Fernie Ghostriders. Fernie was up 2-1 after three games in that series, but Kimberley roared back with 3-2, 10-1 and 3-2 victories to claim victory.
An opening goal by Liam Plunkett and a pair by Paxton Malone gave Creston a 3-0 lead after one period of play in Invermere in Game 4. Columbia Valley narrowed the margin when Cooper Krauss and Ryan Skytt scored the only goals in the second period.
In the final frame, the Rockies’ Kyler Shmigelsky tied the game early, but Justen James scored the game winner with 11:15 left to play in regulation time. Grant Iles put the game away with an empty netter with 13 seconds remaining.
Red-hot Thomas Cankovic earned four assists and leads the KIJHL in playoff scoring. Brock Lefebvre stopped 38 of 41 shots for his fourth playoff win in a row.
The battle for the Eddie Mountain Division title opened with two games in Creston on Tuesday and Wednesday, after the Advance went to press. The teams then head to Kimberley for Friday and Saturday games.
Thomas Cankovic, who averaged three points a game in the opening series for the Thunder Cats, sits in second place in KIJHL scoring, a point behind Kimberley’s James Farmer. Justen James is the only other Thunder Cat to crack the Top 20 scoring list. He has eight points.