The Kimberley Dynamiters set a goal prior to the start of the series against the Fernie Ghostriders to have an excellent opening period.
Three goals on four shots in five minutes gave the Dynamiters the excellent start they were looking for. Nicholas Ketola scored the first goal of the series. Cooper Page added one followed by Brock Palmer.
“They were prepared and ready to go.” Head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said of the team. “From the morning meeting the guys were focused, they were ready to go. I haven’t seen us play that good of a period as a group in a long time, it at all this season.”
Brandt Bertoia scored the teams fourth goal at the 7:24 mark, chasing Ghostriders’ goalie Broc Merkl from the net, and Zak Larson took guard.
“We did as good as we could in the first.” Stuart said, “I hate to say this, but it was almost as if the game was over after the first period, that’s how good we were in the first.”
The Ghostriders did stop the bleeding as Jason Woodley got the teams first goal.
In the second period, the Nitros coasted, and the ‘Riders closed the gap. Defosse deflected a shot in that Cody Campbell didn’t have a chance on to cut into the Nitro’s lead, it was 4-2.
Bertoia gave the Nitros a three goal lead with his second of the game.
Penalties then began to be a problem for the Nitros, as they played shorthanded for the last 4:07 of the period. They were able to escape with a clean penalty kill.
“It was tough. We didn’t help ourselves because we put it in cruise control. Our compete level went way down, our skating went way down, our battling for pucks went way down.
“But still, the team that is up 4-0 is getting a lot of penalties called against on them compared to the team that is down. Either way, part of it was our fault too.”
In the third the two teams locked horns, for the lowest period shot total of the game.
With 2:30 left the Ghostriders’ went all in and pulled their goalie. Campbell bailed the team out, and Bertoia finished the hattrick with an empty net goal.
“It was good.” Bertoia said of scoring the hattrick. “It’s good to turn it on at this time of year. This is the biggest part of the year. Especially against Fernie, I have never liked them and I never will. I have two buddies on that team, and during the game, I hate them.”
Bertoia has now scored back-to-back hattricks against the Ghostriders.
“Bertoia was the best player again for the second time in a row against these guys.” Stuart said. “He looked like he belongs in a different league. If it wasn’t for Brandt, it could have been a different game.”
Bertoia’s line with Cam Russell and Ketola scored four of the teams six goals. Bertoia credits Stuart for putting the line together which has resulted in success.
“They are the fastest two forwards on our team, in my opinion. They can fly. All you have to do is get to the net and puckes will bounce your way. I couldn’t ask for better linemates.
With the 6-2 win the Nitros took an early 1-0 lead in the best of seven series.
“We got the result we wanted because we had such a great first period, we don’t want to make that a habit.” Stuart cautioned after the game.
Brandt Bertoia was named the Home Star of the game, and Campbell made 19 saves in the win.
Looking back at the game Bertoia said, “For the first 20 we were solid, lots of speed. That is our biggest advantage. We got away from our game once we got up three or four goals. We just played at their level for the rest of the game.”
But it wasn’t just Bertoia with his hattrick that stood out. For Stuart, Palmer, who is sporting a full-cage mask, also stood out. “Palmer was real good in the dirty areas. He showed a lot of toughness there, taking some hits, going to the front of the net, and making plays on the wall.”
While Roberts impressed defensively. “On the back end, Roberts was probably our best defenceman tonight.”
The two teams face off again on Saturday at 7:30 at the Kimberley Civic Centre followed up with game three Sunday in Sparwood.