Assistant coach Jeff Keiver (right) looks over drills with returning goaltender Mitch Traichevich (left) during Kimberley Dynamiters training camp at the Kimberley Civic Centre this past weekend. Derek Stuart

KIJHL: Dynamiters pare camp roster, prepare for pre-season

With 28 players remaining, Kimberley Dynamiters visit Creston Valley Thunder Cats to open KIJHL exhibition play Wednesday night

Work ethic and compete level.

Asked to give his overall impressions from a weekend of training camp at the Kimberley Civic Centre, those were the first words to escape from Derek Stuart, the new head coach and general manager of the KIJHL’s Kimberley Dynamiters.

For a club looking at vast turnover from its 2016 regular season championship roster, work ethic and compete level are the kinds of words you want to be hearing.

“I was really happy with the work ethic and the compete level,” Stuart said Tuesday. “A lot of players were showing how badly they wanted to make the hockey club. Obviously, this time of year, execution and communication isn’t going to be where a coach would want it to be, but the main thing I asked them was to work hard and compete. For the most part, I thought they all did that really well.”

Stuart entered his first tour as the Dynamiters bench boss with roughly 50 players in camp. After a day or two of reviewing some notes and observations, the roster was pared down to 28, including four goaltenders, six defencemen and 18 forwards, as the Nitros prepare to open the pre-season schedule Wednesday at Creston.

Goaltender Mitch Traichevich is the lone returner between the pipes after Tyson Brouwer graduated and moved on to the University of Jamestown. The intriguing name to surface on Tuesday was 1999-born Matthew Trulsen, a native of Maple Ridge, B.C., who was a recent cut of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes.

“Right now, with the three we’ve seen that have been at camp, they’ve all shown us some good things at one time or another,” Stuart said. “[Wednesday] will be a good test. Creston, I’m assuming, will have a very strong squad right now, right away… Again, for a goalie it’s a little bit different. But guys as well as the goalies can still compete and battle. Give us a chance to win— that’s probably the No. 1 thing. If they can give us a chance to win and be in the hockey game, that will go a long way.”

While the crease remains crowded, the blueline looks rather slim as Stuart carries the minimum six bodies into pre-season, including 2001-born Quaid Anderson, who is a Kimberley native and only eligible to suit up as an affiliate this season. With all that in mind, Stuart noted five defencemen remain at Junior A camps, including Brett Roberts (Sherwood Park, AJHL), Devon Langelaar (Olds, AJHL), George Bertoia (Drumheller, AJHL), Tyler Van Steinburg (Canmore, AJHL) and Trey Doell (Kindersley, SJHL). All remain eligible to return to the Nitros and with a shortage of blue liners throughout the league, Stuart would love to have any of the experienced group back in the Bavarian City of the Rockies.

“We tried to keep eight, but for numerous reasons a couple kids thought they would be better off going back to play midget or go home,” Stuart said.

“It’s tough to get defencemen. In talking with other coaches as well, everyone seems to be short on defencemen for camps. That’s basically the reason we’re down to six now. We’re going to go with those six and see what happens from there.”

The biggest bulge exists in the forward group as 18 players still sit on the roster with only two pre-season games to show their chops.

Again, Stuart’s message comes down to work ethic and compete level as he looks to fill out the forward core of his roster.

Outside of Wednesday’s road contest in Creston, the Dynamiters will wrap up their exhibition action Friday night at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook (7:30 p.m.) when the Golden Rockets come to visit.

From there, the 2016-17 KIJHL regular season begins Friday, Sept. 9 (7 p.m.) when the Fernie Ghostriders visit the Kimberley Civic Centre.

“We’re excited as a team and organization to get an exhibition game in Cranbrook,” Stuart said. “I think it’s something that if it’s successful, we’ll look at doing it every year. I know there are fans from Cranbrook that come to Kimberley and if we can attract a few more that don’t normally come, that would be great.

“We’re excited to showcase what the KIJHL is all about.”

Kimberley Dynamiters Exhibition Roster

Goaltenders (four)

Mitch Traichevich (1997) — Dawson Creek, B.C.Adam Andersen (2000) — Kimberley, B.C.Nathan Spark (1998) — Vernon, B.C.Matthew Trulsen (1999) — Maple Ridge, B.C.

Defencemen (six)

Quaid Anderson (2001) — Kimberley, B.C.Bo Cornell (1999) — Legal, Alta.Hayden Dance (1999) — n/aCayman Froude (1999) — Sunshine Coast, B.C.Luke Purdy (1998) — Kimberley, B.C.Harrison Risdon (2000) — Cranbrook, B.C.

Forwards (18)

Brandt Bertoia (1999) — Unity, Sask.Wyatt Flemming (1998) — n/aLogan Middleton (1998) — Picture Butte, Alta.Troy Feldbusch (1998) — Coaldale, Alta.Jordan Bautista (1996) — Kelowna, B.C.James Farmer (1997) — Calgary, Alta.James Rota (1998) — Kimberley, B.C.Donte Nowell (1998) — Red Deer, Alta.Ryan Hozjan (1996) — Calgary, Alta.Sam Paskuski (1998) — Lethbridge, Alta.Terrell Clarricoates (1999) — Cranbrook, B.C.Damien Tough (1998) — Turtleford, Sask.Nick Ketola (1997) — Mead, Wash.Brayden Koran (2001) — Kimberley, B.C.Kyle Cairns ((1998) — Grande Prairie, Alta.Franco Colapaolo (1996) — Calgary, Alta.Rylan D’Etcheverrey (1998) — Kimberley, B.C.Koby Adams-Louis (1998) — n/a