It was a playoff preview on Sunday evening as Jason Richter posted a hat trick and led the Nitros to an 8-5 victory over the Golden Rockets for their final regular season game in Kimberley.
Tied up at 2-2 after one period, the Nitros added another pair of goals in the middle frame, and lit the goal lamp four times, while the Rockets notched a trio of markers in the final period.
Richter had a five-point night, adding two assists to his hat trick, while Taylor McDowell also had a big night, with five helpers in the assists column.
Nitro goaltender Jeremy Mousseau made 36 saves for the win.
“Our guys battled hard enough to beat a good team,” said Nitros head coach Glenn Burgess. “They did what they had to do, and there’s been lots of games where they haven’t done that, so it’s definitely a step forward.”
Golden opened the scoring in the first period, when Keith Wake beat a screened Mousseau from the point on a Rocket powerplay.
A minute later, the Nitros evened things up when Richter got his first of the evening, taking a feed from Sam Nigg on a odd man rush and beating Rockets’ stopper Cody Boeckman on the backhand.
A minute after that, Isaac Schacher put the Nitros in the lead, scooping up a rebound in front of the net after the puck had bounced off the post.
However, the Rockets struck back by the time the period ended, with Jacob Bergeron earning the tying goal.
The Nitros doubled up the lead in the second period, with Richter scoring on the powerplay, while Eric Buckley scored his first of two for the night.
Black Roney scored early in the third period, but Dynamiter captain Connor Kutzner answered back within a minute to re-establish a two goal lead.
“We just kind of started off slow in the third and you could kind of tell that they were going to score a goal,” said Kutzner, “and when they did, our line went out there and just tried to turn the tide. I got the puck in the corner and saw Buckley open in front of the net and I tried to pass it to him, but it went of a guy’s skate and into the net, so it was a lucky bounce, but it got the momentum back in our favour.”
That seemed to galvanize the team, which rattled off three more successive goals as Richter completed his hat trick, Buckley got his second marker of the game, and Jared Marchi also got in on the scoring action to make it 83-with 10 minutes left in the contest.
However, the Rockets managed to put a dent in their deficit and added a pair of late goals from Brad Orr and James Price to make it a final score of 8-5.