Dynamiters goaltender Brody Nelson bats a shot away against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats Jan. 13. The Nitros and Thunder Cats go to battle Friday in Creston with critical points on the line as the KIJHL playoff race heats up.

Dynamiters goaltender Brody Nelson bats a shot away against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats Jan. 13. The Nitros and Thunder Cats go to battle Friday in Creston with critical points on the line as the KIJHL playoff race heats up.

KIJHL: Critical Creston Valley clash

The Kimberley Dynamiters and Creston Valley Thunder Cats go head-to-head with vital Eddie Mountain Division points on the line

The Kimberley Dynamiters are set to travel to Creston Valley in search of two vital points Friday night.

The Dynamiters and Thunder Cats are engaged in a neck-and-neck race for second-place in the KIJHL’s Eddie Mountain Division. With seven games remaining on their schedule, the Nitros hold a two-point edge on the Thunder Cats, who have eight games remaining and one in hand on the Dynamiters.

The two teams very well could end up as first-round playoff opponents and Friday might prove to be a nice preview of what to expect.

“It’s going to be a very intense game,” said Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks. “Like I’ve said since Christmas, I think they’ve been one of the strong teams. They’ve played extremely well. They’re well coached. It’s going to be a very competitive game and they’re as desperate to get home ice as we are. It should be very much a playoff-type atmosphere. We’re looking forward to it.”

The divisional playoff format in the KIJHL sees the first-place finisher host the fourth-place team in the first round of post-season action. The second-place team then hosts the third-place team. As it stands, the Nitros hold down second place in the Eddie Mountain Division, with the Thunder Cats hot on their heels in third.

A six-point gap separates the fourth-place Golden Rockets from the Thunder Cats and on the other side of the ladder, a 12-point gap exists between the second-place Dynamiters and first-place Ghostriders.

Though nothing is set in stone, if the playoffs began today, the Ghostriders would face the Rockets and the Nitros would take on the Thunder Cats in the KIJHL’s first round of playoff hockey.

“We need to have solid effort from everybody fortunate enough to get in the lineup,” Bancks said looking forward to Friday. “That’s pretty much it.”

A once depleted Dynamiters dressing room is now brimming with healthy bodies. Bancks expects Jared Marchi to make his return to action Friday in Creston Valley, leaving Marco Campanella (lower body, week to week) as the lone remaining man on the injured list.

Following Friday’s date with the Thunder Cats, the Nitros head back up the highway to visit the Columbia Valley Rockies Saturday night.