With a recent break in their playing schedule coming to an end when they host the Golden Rockets on Friday night, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats are preparing to make a serious run at the KIJHL championship.
“I think that the winter break was perfect timing for our players to go home and get re-energized for the second half of the season,” head coach Brad Tobin said on Sunday. “It’s showed in our play as we’re currently on a 6-game win streak since being back.”
The Thunder Cats are undefeated in 2018 and most players have had a chance to rest and recuperate from nagging injuries since edging the Columbia Valley Rockies 5-4 in overtime on January 10th.
Levi Mitchell was one player who didn’t get much of a break. He was the starting goaltender on Saturday night in Kelowna, helping the Kootenay Prospects to a 7-3 win over the Okanagan-Shuswap Prospects in an exhibition game that shows off the talents of the league’s young stars.
Tobin was selected to the coaching staff for the Kootenay team.
“It was a great event for the KIJHL, we were able to bring in scouts from all over western Canada to showcase our best young players to Junior and WHL teams,” Tobin said. “I was honoured to be selected to the coaching staff for the Kootenay Prospects. It was a great weekend to keep in touch with other coaches in our league and just to share ideas on how the game is going in the KIJHL.
“Levi Mitchell was our selection to the game and got to play the first 30 minutes of it. He played really well and made some big saves early on in the game to get our team off to a great start.”
Asked to give fans a glimpse at the team’s own prospects for the second half of the schedule, Tobin began by pointing out some of the Thunder Cats’ strengths.
“In goal, obviously Levi Mitchell has been one of the stronger performers in our league as he’s currently sitting in 3rd for goalie statistics,” he said. “Our captain Liam Plunkett is leading the KIJHL in scoring with 68 points. Ronnie Wilkie is leading the KIJHL in goal scoring with 34 goals.”
Now sitting with the league’s 6th highest point total and only 5 points behind the KIJHL leaders, arch-rival Kimberley Dynamiters, Creston looks to be in good position to make a strong run in the playoffs.
“Moving forward, our players need to realize that it’s not going to get any easier, so we need to start playing ‘heavier’ in the defensive zone and make sure that the little details aren’t getting overlooked in our overall play,” Tobin said.
The Thunder Cats host the Golden Rockets at John Bucyk Arena on Friday night before taking on the Dynamiters in Kimberley on Saturday night.