With the Creston Valley Thunder Cats falling to the Fernie Ghostriders 4-3 on Tuesday evening, the Kimberley Dynamiters officially clinched second place in the KIJHL’s Eddie Mountain Division.
That sets up a first-round playoff match-up between the Dynamiters and Thunder Cats.
Game One of the Dynamiters-Thunder Cats first-round series is slated for Feb. 20 at the Kimberley Civic Centre (7 p.m.).
The Nitros and Thunder Cats have a long-standing playoff rivalry, fuelled by a seven-game, second-round series last season that saw Creston Valley edge Kimberley in seven games.
After falling behind 3-1 in the 2013-14 second-round series with the Nitros, the Thunder Cats stormed back to win three consecutive games and take the series 4-3.
Nitros goaltender Tyson Brouwer took over the crease in Game 2, going 3-3. Up front, Eric Buckley, Jason Richter and Jared Marchi tallied two goals each.
The seven-game war between the two Eddie Mountain Division rivals played out about as close as it could, with the Thunder Cats outscoring the Dynamiters 23-21 over the course of the series.
Before getting too excited about post-season hockey, both the Dynamiters and Thunder Cats have two games remaining on their respective regular-season schedules.
At 30-15-2-3 (65 points) the Dynamiters will finish second in the Eddie Mountain Division for the second consecutive season, regardless of what happens in the team’s final two games of the season (Friday at Grand Forks, Sunday vs. Golden).
At 27-17-1-5 (60 points), the Thunder Cats finish third in the Eddie Mountain Division, a year removed from claiming the division title on the strength of a 39-11-1-1 record (80 points).
The Thunder Cats wrap up their regular-season slate with a pair of home games against the Golden Rockets Friday and Saturday.
The Fernie Ghostriders (35-11-1-2, 73 points) claimed the 2014-15 Eddie Mountain Division title and will face the fourth-place Golden Rockets in the first round of the KIJHL playoffs.
The fifth-place Columbia Valley Rockies (11-32-0-6, 28 points) finish outside the playoff picture.
KIJHL Eddie Mountain Division Playoff Schedule:
Kimberley Dynamiters (2) vs. Creston Valley Thunder Cats (3)Game 1: Fri., Feb. 20 at Kimberley Game 2: Sat., Feb. 21 at KimberleyGame 3: Mon., Feb. 23 at CrestonGame 4: Tues., Feb. 24 at CrestonGame 5: Thurs., Feb. 26 at Kimberley*Game 6: Fri., Feb. 27 at Creston*Game 7: Sat., Feb. 28 at Kimberley*
Fernie Ghostriders (1) vs. Golden Rockets (4)Game 1: Wed., Feb. 18 at FernieGame 2: Fri., Feb. 20 at GoldenGame 3: Sun., Feb. 22 at FernieGame 4: Mon., Feb. 23 at GoldenGame 5: Wed., Feb. 25 at Fernie*Game 6: Fri., Feb. 27 at Golden*Game 7: Sat., Feb. 28 at Fernie*
* = if necessary