Thunder Cats lose 4-3 to Kimberley

The Creston Valley Thunder Cats thumped the weakest team in the KIJHL on Friday, but couldn't follow up with a win over the league's top team on Saturday.

The Creston Valley Thunder Cats thumped the weakest team in the KIJHL on Friday, but couldn’t follow up with a win over the league’s top team on Saturday.

After a 9-3 win at home over Golden on Friday, the Thunder Cats hit the highway on Saturday, only to be delayed by the fatal traffic accident between Yahk and Moyie. They were unable to complete a comeback after falling behind early and eventually absorbed a 4-3 loss.

“It was a different game day than most, with the accident which took place on the highway and the later start time,” head coach Brad Tobin said on Sunday. “We seemed to be battling the puck throughout most of the contest, only showing spurts of well-executed plays. But I was happy with the push back late in the contest. We had our share of chances but just couldn’t get past Campbell often enough.”

Goals by Harrison Risdon and Cam Russell put the Dynamiters up by two goals after 20 minutes and Russell’s goal midway through the game gave Kimberley a 3-0 lead after two periods.

Red-hot Tyler Witzke put Creston on the board 3 minutes into the final frame, with an assist from Colten Witter. Darby Berg (Witzke and Brayden Jellis) drew the T-Cats to within a goal with 7:04 remaining, but Farmer responded with a goal 34 seconds later. Another Witzke goal, from Dylan Rantucci and Jack McCardle, made for an exciting finish, but it was too little, too late.

The loss leaves the Thunder Cats 9 points behind the Dynamiters with only five games left in the regular season.

On Friday night Witzke led the way with 4 goals and an assist, and the Liam Plunkett-Justen James-Ronnie Wilkie trio kicked in 11 points to lead Creston to a 9-3 win over the Golden Rockets in the John Bucyk Arena.

Shawn Grobowsky put the Rockets into an early lead when he scored 20 seconds into the game, but it was all Creston after that.

Conor Monaghan (Witzke) tied the game on the power play and Witzke scored twice, one unassisted and the other from Plunkett and Jack McArdle. With a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes, the Thunder Cats poured it on in the second frame. James (Plunkett and Wilkie), Plunkett (Wilkie and James) and Witzke (Monaghan), with a short-handed effort, put Creston into a 6-1 lead before the midpoint of the game. Jake Gudjonson scored on the power play for Golden but James (Callum McGhee) responded before the second period ended.

Witzke (Dawson McGuire) scored his fourth goal to open the third period scoring and Wilkie (Plunkett and James) put the T-cats up 9-2 before Grobowsky finished the scoring for the Rockets.

“Tyler Witzke has been playing at another level than the rest lately. He’s been converting on his scoring chances more often than not and he’s been a horse on the penalty kill,” Tobin said. “It was a well-executed game for us—we got our legs going early and didn’t stop the momentum for 60 minutes. Again our line of Canete, Jellis, and Berg were getting in on the forecheck and banging bodies all night.”

Creston returns to action on Wednesday when they play host to the Rockets.Two road games on the weekend see the Thunder Cats in Sparwood on Friday to take on the Fernie Ghostriders and Invermere on Saturday for a match against the Columbia Valley Rockies.

Plunkett, Wilkie, and James continue to hold down the 1,2 and 5 spots in league scoring, and Levi Mitchell’s 1.89 goals against average are the KIJHL’s second best.

Next game is Wednesday February 7, 2018 Golden vs Creston at the Johnny Bucky Arena.

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