You can’t win ’em all and Wednesday night the Creston Valley Thunder Cats handed the Kimberley Dynamiters only their sixth regulation loss of the 2015-16 KIJHL campaign by claiming a 3-2 victory at Johnny Bucyk Arena.
With the win, the Thunder Cats (27-14-2-2) claimed two valuable points to add a bit of extra breathing room between them and the Fernie Ghostriders (25-15-0-4) in the race for second place in the KIJHL’s Eddie Mountain Division.
The Dynamiters (35-6-0-4) already sit pretty atop the division, having clinched the title and home-ice advantage through the opening two rounds of the KIJHL post-season with a 5-3 victory over the Castlegar Rebels this past Saturday.
Wednesday, Dynamiters rookie defenceman George Bertoia opened the scoring in the dying moments of the first period as he beat Thunder Cats goaltender Jason Mailhiot for a 1-0 lead with only 27 seconds remaining in the period.
After that, the Thunder Cats took control in the middle period.
The hosts struck three times in a matter of 3:56 to take a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
First, Thunder Cats forward Logan Styler beat Nitros goaltender Mitch Traichevich to tie the game 1-1 with 8:52 remaining in the second period.
Thunder Cats leading scorer Alec Wilkinson struck next, tallying his 13th goal and 61st point of the campaign, to give Creston Valley a 2-1 advantage.
Rounding out the second period cracks was Thunder Cats forward Nicholas Kovacik, who scored with 4:56 to go in the period to send his team into the dressing room in control after two periods.
Shortly after the Thunder Cats claimed a two-goal advantage, things went from bad to worse for the Dynamiters as Eric Buckley was served with a five-minute major penalty for interference, along with a game misconduct.
Buckley, 20, has been a key presence this season for the Nitros, having collected 20 goals and 59 points through 45 games.
On top of being without the services of the pesky 5-foot-9 Penticton native for the third period, Kimberley was forced to spend five minutes on the penalty kill rather than working to even the score.
Outside of outscoring the visitors in the second, the Thunder Cats heavily outshot the Dynamiters, sending 17 pucks towards Traichevich while holding the Kimberley offence to a mere four shots in the period.
Dynamiters newcomer Franco Colapaolo pulled his club back within one late in the third period, collecting his second goal of the season with 4:56 remaining in regulation.
Colapaolo’s goal wasn’t enough to salvage the second period and the Thunder Cats hung on for a 3-2 triumph.
Next up, the Kimberley Dynamiters take on the Fernie Ghostriders in a highly-anticipated weekend home-and-home series.
Friday in Kimberley, the Nitros play host to the Ghostriders at 7 p.m. on Pink the Rink Anti-Bullying Night, in partnership with Western Financial Group, at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game and can purchase pink pucks for a chance to win prizes. All funds raised will go towards anti-bullying initiatives in local schools.
The Fernie-Kimberley home-and-home weekend rivalry wraps up Monday at the Fernie Memorial Arena at 2 p.m.