Losing only one out of six exhibition games, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats are ready to start the 2015-2016 season by visiting the Chase Heat for their season opener Friday and the Sicamous Eagles on Saturday.
Having no experience against either team last season, head coach Jeff Dubois said the Thunder Cats will watch some footage from last season, and then play the best game they can.
“We have a bit of video at our disposal from last year that we go through with the guys,” he said, noting that former Golden Rockets coach Ty Davidson now coaches the Eagles. “We kind of understand the style that he likes to play, but again, we’re not familiar with their players beyond having had a chance to watch some video.”
Friday’s season-opener closely follows a six-game exhibition schedule, which saw the Thunder Cats beat the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 2-1, the Grand Forks Border Bruins 10-1 and the Fernie Ghostriders 5-3, and tie Fernie 2-2 and Grand Forks 4-4. The Creston team suffered a 5-2 loss in the final game, held in Beaver Valley last night.
Through those games, Dubois said, the team was pared down to 26 from about 32 left over from training camp, with a final few to be cut before tomorrow’s game to bring the team down to its 23-member maximum.
Throughout the exhibition series, a few players stood out, and Dubois is confident fans will enjoy watching them this season.
He expects good things from defenceman Liam Bell, from Vancouver Island, and Jayden Smith, who came to Creston from Calgary, is a “powerful, hard working, smart kid with good offensive tools.” And Montreal recruit Marc Gagnon has “been full value — a real smart, puck-moving defenceman.”
Fans will also be happy to know that the Fernie Ghostriders should again provide strong competition, which should be seen at the Thunder Cats home-opener on Sept. 19.
“Their captain, a guy named Cole Keebler, I fully expect to be one of the top guys in the league this year,” said Dubios. “Based on what we’ve seen so far in two very close games with them, I expect it to be another good year for that rivalry.”