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Thunder Cats take control of second place

By Eric Blow

By Eric Blow

A weekend sweep by the Creston Valley Thunder Cats put them securely in second place in the Eddie Mountain division with big wins over the Princeton Posse and Fernie Ghostriders.

The Cats have a game in hand – meaning they’ve played one less game than Fernie – and are four points up on the easternmost rivals, leading them 20 – 16 in the standings.

Friday’s win was the team’s third in a row over the Okanagan conference as they defeated the Posse 5-3 despite giving up the game’s first goal. Special teams were the difference in that one as the Cats’ first three goals were all scored with the man advantage while the penalty kill denied all but one of Princeton’s chances.

Josh Dalquist continued his outstanding start to the season, scoring his fifth goal of the season, the most among KIJHL defenders, with just over two minutes to go in the first period to tie the game at one. It was the first of four straight goals for the Cats from Dalquist, Kyle James, Logan Berggren, and Carson Small.

Things looked to be in control until the Posse chipped away getting to within a goal late in the third, but Connor Scammell gave the teams and the fans some insurance with 21 seconds left in the game, securing the win for Creston. A powerplay that was circling around the bottom third of the league going 6/51 (11per cent) coming into the game, went 4/5 (80 per cent) and was a major factor in the Creston getting the win.

Head coach Nick Redding isn’t expecting that type of efficiency all the time but was happy to see some of the teams’ chances pay off.

“We really try to stress in practice getting traffic in front (of the net),” said Redding. “Josh Dalquist’s goal, we get a guy in front, shot from the point. Logan Berggren’s goal, Zach Austin puts the puck (in front), Berggren’s right there sticking with it.”

The win vaulted the Cats into second and set up a tense match on Saturday in the Fernie Memorial Arena.

It was a game that Creston controlled from the start. They got off to a 2-0 lead in the first with goals from Small and Benjamin Kruse outshooting the home team 18-11 in the period. The team stifled the Riders at every turn and Riley O’Laney stood tall in the net making 25 saves through two periods.

Small’s second of the night made it 3-1 with 14 minutes remaining and the Cats wouldn’t look back holding onto a lead the rest of the way.

Fernie cut into the deficit with eight minutes to go but Tyler Hamilton got his first career KIJHL goal, a solo battle in front, banging in a rebound for the game-winner. The Cats now have six straight games at home, starting with the same Fernie Ghostriders they just beat on Nov.1.

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