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Nitros put Thunder Cats on life support

The referee signals a goal as the Kimberley Dynamiters celebrate during a game against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Tuesday night. - Trevor Crawley photo
The referee signals a goal as the Kimberley Dynamiters celebrate during a game against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Tuesday night.
— image credit: Trevor Crawley photo

The Creston Valley Thunder Cats are officially on life support.

Tyson Brouwer turned in a 35 save performance and Bryce Nielsen scored twice to lead the Kimberley Dynamiters to a dominating 6-3 win on Tuesday night, giving them a 3-1 series lead in the Eddie Mountain division final.

Despite being outshot in all three periods, Brouwer was—by far—the best player on the ice for Kimberley, turning away shot after shot as Creston desperately tried to find their scoring touch.

The highest-scoring team in the KIJHL during the regular season, the Thunder Cats have only tallied 10 goals in four games, while Kimberley overcame a tough start  to the series and has found the back of the net 15 times over the same time span.

With that in mind, the Nitros aren't ready to start celebrating yet.

"It's not done till it's done," said Brouwer. "Creston is a really good team, they could easily come back, so we just need to go in there and finish the job, stick to the things we did tonight. "

The Dynamiters got some unfortunate news before the start of the game, with forward Tyler Garcia getting suspended for two games due to an accumulation of checking to the head minors. Kimberley was also without Jason Richter and Andrew Millar due to illness.

Creston notched the first goal, but the Nitros responded with a pair in the first period. The same pattern occurred in each of the following two frames, with the Thunder Cats getting only one goal, while the Dynamiters potted two.

Colby Livingstone got the party started for Creston, beating his man down the wing and sliding the puck through the five hole after cutting into the middle in front of Brouwer.

Kimberley seemed to have responded when a scrum formed in front of Creston goaltender Brock Lefebvre and the puck trickled across the line. However, the officials waved it off as the play had been whistled dead beforehand.

But there was no denying the goal scored a dozen seconds later, when Nielsen redirected a bullet from Perpelitz into the net on the powerplay to even up the game.

Just over a minute later, Perpelitz fed a streaking Eric Buckley down low in the Thunder Cats zone, who deftly stuffed the puck home at the side of the net for a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Perpelitz scored off the wing in the the second period, which prompted a change from Lefebvre to Kyle Michalovsky, the starter on Monday night who was lit up for four goals.

The goaltending change didn't matter; Dylan Sibbald beat his check and came in on a breakaway to go top cheddar and make it 4-1 at 6:35.

"We have confidence going in," said Perpelitz. "Just getting shots to the net and things are going in for us. We're going in finishing our checks, too, giving us more room to create more scoring opportunities, so we got to keep that up, going into Creston."

With just under five minutes to go in the period, the Thunder Cats answered back. Seth Schmidt wired a low shot home after finding some open space in the high slot.

Leading 4-2 going into the third period, the Nitros kept the pressure up, with Nielsen getting a slick tip on a point shot from Jordan Busch. Brandon Becker also padded the lead in the latter half of the frame with a slap shot that went off the post and in.

The Thunder Cats pulled their goaltender while on the powerplay for a six-on-four advantage over the Nitros with 6:20 remaining in the game.

Though Creston didn't score on the powerplay, they did manage to get another one on the board with 3:29 left from Trevor Hanna.

The series now shifts to Creston for Game Five on Thursday, where the Nitros will have the chance to wrap it up. Should Creston win, the Dynamiters will host Game Six on Friday night.

 

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