After defeating the Golden Rockets in the first round of the Eddie Mountain Division playoffs, the Thunder Cats are now tied 2-2 with the Fernie Ghostriders in the division finals.
“The team’s excited,” Joe Martin, head coach of Creston’s Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team. “We kind of feel like this is where we should be.”
The best-of-seven series began on Friday and Saturday with games in Fernie, the first won 3-1 by Fernie, with the Thunder Cats winning the second 5-2. The next two games were held at the John Bucyk Arena, where the results were also split, with Fernie winning 6-4 on Monday and Creston winning 2-1 on Tuesday.
“They ended up getting two empty net goals,” said Martin of Monday’s game. “It looked like we were going to win that game, too.”
The Thunder Cats have their work cut out for them if they want a shot at winning the series, Martin said.
“I think that there’s room for improvement. I think Fernie’s playing as good as they can. … Definitely the passion and desire are there, but I think there are a few things not there. Our special teams, particularly our power play, could get better.”
A few players have really stood out in the playoffs, including forward Kane Dawe.
“He’s putting up points for us,” said Martin. “When he’s in the offensive end, he’s jumping around guys, making plays, making it exciting.”
On the defense side, Alex McDougall is keeping the team in line.
“He’s like the sergeant back there, commanding a lot of respect from other players. He’s really leading our guys.”
And in goal, Weston Joseph has been a huge asset, blocking 40 out of 41 shots on Tuesday.
“We’re doing our best to keep goal scoring chances to a minimum,” said Martin. “At the same time, when you get 41 shots…”
The teams return to Fernie tonight for game 5, followed on Friday by game 6 in Creston. If needed, game 7 will be held on Saturday in Fernie. The busy schedule isn’t getting the team down, and the players are keeping fit and ready for action.
“Every day this year, they’re getting up at 6 a.m. and going for a run,” Martin said yesterday. “They’re definitely hungry for it.”