Thunder Cats thump Invermere in playoff tuneup

A chartered bus got the Creston Valley Thunder Cats to their makeup game in Invermere on Tuesday and the team responded with an 8-4 drubbing of the Columbia Valley Rockies.

Rookie Tyler Witzke continued his torrid scoring pace, potting 4 goals. He now has 24 goals and 19 assists on the season, good for fourth place in team scoring.

After Saturday’s scheduled tilt in Invermere had to be postponed due to mechanical problems with the team bus, the Thunder Cats came out flying last night, building a 4-0 lead before 8 minutes of play had elapsed.

Dylan Rantucci (Bryce Sturm) opened the scoring with a power-play effort, then Witzke (Mitchell Wolfe) scored his first of the evening. Captain Liam Plunkett (Sturm) and Witzke (Plunkett and Sturm) added to the lead. Brennan Nelson put the Rockies on the board with a power-play goal at the 9:40 mark, but another Thunder Cat goal with the man advantage from Ronnie Wilkie (Carson Small and Jack McArdle) was the Creston response. Seth Summers made the score 5-2 after 20 minutes of play.

Mike Dyck drew Invermere within 2 goals 2:40 into the middle frame, but Witzke (Colten Witter and Dawson McGuire), then McGuire and Connor Monaghan) gave the T-Cats an insurmountable 7-3 lead. A late second-period goal from Mike Dyck would end the night’s scoring for the Rockies.

Plunkett (Rantucci and Wolfe) scored the only third-period goal.

Backup goalie Sam Burford earned the win for the Thunder Cats, stopping 29 of the 33 shots he faced.

Plunkett’s 3-point night stretched his KIJHL scoring lead to 6 points over Ronnie Wilkie, who managed only one assist. Justen James, who didn’t dress for the game, remains in 5th place overall.

The Thunder Cats wrap up regular season play on the weekend, hosting the league-leading Kimberley Dynamiters on Saturday night, then travelling to Sparwood for one last game against the Fernie Ghostriders.

Playoff play starts on Friday and Saturday, February 23-24, when Creston hosts the Columbia Valley Rockies.

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