With each game increasing in importance to the standings, the Kimberley Dynamiters added to their division lead with wins over the Golden Rockets and Fernie Ghostriders this past weekend.
The Dynamiters were without head coach and general manager Derek Stuart who is serving a three-game suspension due to the gross misconduct given to the team during the Nitro’s 7-1 loss to Creston.
The Nitros headed north on Friday to face the Golden Rockets, a team that made provincial headlines when local 15 year old goaltender Izzy Palumbo debuted and then made 41 saves leading the Rockets to their third win of the season.
This game did not have the same story-line for the Rockets. In the first 20 minutes the Nitros fired an astounding 18 shots on net, converting for one goal by captain Brett Roberts.
In the second, the Nitros continued to build on their lead, with Devon Langelaar and Cooper Page scoring to make it 3-0.
The Nitros would not stop there. They doubled their score in the third as their special teams began clicking. Page scored his second of the game, this time shorthanded. Seconds later, Nicholas Ketola scored short handed. Then with the period winding down, Roberts scored on the power play.
College commit, Cody Campbell, made 18 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. And Cooper Page was named star of the game.
The Dynamiters then welcomed the Fernie Ghostriders on Saturday night.
James Farmer scored 38 seconds into the game, electrifying the crowd. Farmer is now seven points away from 100 KIJHL points.
“He has been playing excellent since Christmas. He has been our best forward since the break.”
After the midway point, the Ghostriders leading scorer, Mitch Titus, and their leading defenceman scorer, Kevin Pierce, each scored a goal. It was all of a sudden 2-1 for the ‘Riders.
“They were opportunistic on their chances.” Stuart said of the Ghostriders. “You give a guy like Titus that much time and space, he will make you pay for it.”
“They capitalized on two of their three, or four, scoring chances in the first.”
Three minutes after those pair of goals, the Dynamiters got a pair of power play goals. Brandt Bertoia and then Bryce McDonald. It was 3-2 Nitros after 20 minutes.
“I had counted eight or nine scoring chances in the first period alone.” Stuart said. “Even though we had a great period, I felt we should have been up more.”
In the second, the two teams traded goals. The ‘Riders tied it at three. Then Brock Palmer scored restoring the Nitros one-goal lead. Then the ‘Riders tied it up again; just to have Page score seconds later, to give the Dynamiters a 5-4 lead after 40 minutes.
“We have been good lately. The second periods have not been as lopsided in terms of play.”
Scoring wasn’t the only excitement in the third. McDonald took a check to the head, and Mason Palaga took exception to it.
“After the predatory hit to the head on Rota last weekend, it was nice to see someone jump in and show that we aren’t going to allow opponents get away with blatant hits to the head.”
With nine goals in 40 minutes, there was an expectation that scoring would continue (similar to Chase Heats 10-9 win over 100 Mile House Wranglers). But the scoring stopped.
Campbell made 29 saves for his 20th win of the season. Bertoia was named the star of the game.
Page had a five point weekend (three goals, two assists).
“He was good, and he was making plays, and protecting the puck.”
Stuart was pleased with his line, and Bertoia on the offensive side of the game. As for defence, it was Langelaar.
“He was our best defencemen. He was very effective and had a major impact on the game.”
One concern Stuart had over the weekend was the teams ability to convert their scoring opportunities.
“We need to bear down more on our chances. We are getting 40 plus shots nearly every game, and prime scoring chances, and we are not scoring on a bunch of those. We need to start putting games away earlier when we have the chance.”
“When we are getting that many scoring chances, it would be nice to have instead of a one goal game, a two, three, or even four goal lead.”
The Dynamiters will look to improve their conversion as they travel to Sparwood on Friday to play the Fernie Ghostriders and then return home on Saturday to host the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.