Playoff matchups coming into focus
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) playoff picture is coming into focus as the 2016/17 regular season enters the final stretch.
The Creston Valley Thunder Cats are first in the Eddie Mountain Division, now five points ahead of second place Kimberley Dynamiters (65 points) with a game in hand.
The Fernie Ghostriders have a firm grasp on third, with 51 points and the Columbia Valley Rockies have fourth locked up with 32 points.
In the Neil Murdoch Division, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks have first locked up, along with first in the league, with 79 wins, including only four regulation losses in 45 games.
The Castlegar Rebels (57 pts), Grand Forks Border Bruins (46) and Nelson Leafs (43) round out the playoff picture in the Kootenay Conference.
It’s been a close race in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference’s Doug Birks Division, with Chase Heat sitting in first with 64 points. The 100 Mile House Wranglers sit second (58), Kamloops Storm (53) and Revelstoke Grizzlies (39) fill the final three spots.
The Okanagan Division is the only undecided bracket, with the North Okanagan Kings and Princeton Posse battling it out for the final spot.
The Osoyoos Coyotes (73 points) sit atop the division, with Summerland Steam (66) and Kelowna Chiefs (45) second and third.
Teams have five to six games remaining each, with the regular season concluding Tuesday, Feb. 28.
All East Kootenay teams are in action this weekend, including a tilt in Sparwood between the Fernie Ghostriders and Golden Rockets at the Sparwood Leisure Centre. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
The Riders are home on Sunday, Feb. 19 for 6 p.m. clash with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
The Columbia Valley Rockies have a tough weekend ahead, with a Friday night clash against the Thunder Cats in Creston’s Johnny Bucyck Arena (7:30 p.m.), with a return match Saturday at Invermere’s Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena (7:30 p.m.)
The Kimberley Dynamiters head to Fruitvale Friday for a pre-playoff test against the powerful Nitehawks. The Nitros are off until a Friday, Feb. 24 division tilt against the Ghostriders at the Civic Centre (7 p.m.)
The Rockies are in Creston on Friday, Feb. 24.