The Kimberley Dynamiters 2017-18 regular season came to a conclusion this past weekend.
On Friday, the Dynamiters traveled to Invermere to play the Columbia Valley Rockies.
After a scoreless first period, the Rockies opened the scoring at the midway point of the second.
“[The Rockies] came out hard and carried the play,” head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said. “We weathered the storm, as they say, and Campbell made some great saves to keep us in it. They did get one by us, but we didn’t let that phase us.”
The unphased Nitros answered back with a power play goal scored by Mason Palaga.
“We just continued to play our hockey.” Stuart said. “Even when you play good, there are going to be some lulls and where things don’t go your way.
“We just kept playing the way we have been playing for the last month and a bit. We told the players if you keep doing this, you will get rewarded.”
The Nitro’s efforts were definitely rewarded in the third, scoring three goals in two minutes in the later half of the period. Derian Bamber scored, then century-an James Farmer scored 18 second later. Chase Gedny added the teams fourth goal.
The Nitros won the game 4-1, and Cody Campbell, the Away Star of the game, made 29 saves for the win.
It was Gedny’s first game back after injury, and he had a goal and two assists.
“Chase was really good. He is a guy who knows where to go.” Staurt said. “When he gets into that spot and gets the puck on his stick he usually wins that battle with the goaltender, and he did again in his first game back.”
Another player that stood out Friday for Stuart was defencemen Bamber, “He was excellent on defence. Him and Roberts were good together.
“Bamber was probably the guy that was playing as good as we have seen him all season. He was rewarded as well. The way he skating and his physicality, if there was one player who stuck out it was Bamber.”
With the win, the Dynamiters clinched the KIJHL regular season title. It was one of the teams goals that they made at the Christmas break.
“To clinch the division and the conference last weekend, and then to do the league in the next game just gives our guys the reassurance that when they set goals they can achieve them.”
The Nitros have made well on five of their six goals: number of wins at home, number of wins on the road, clinch the Eddie Mountain Division, clinch the Kootenay Conference, and clinch the KIJHL.
“We are five for five on our goals after Christmas, there is one left. It will take a while to attain, but hopefully we can get there down the road. It’s to win the whole league.”
After taking the regular season title, the Nitros headed the opposite direction from Invermere to play the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in the final game of the regular season.
The Dynamiters were without captain Brett Roberts and starting goaltender Cody Campbell. Adam Andersen started, which Stuart said was going to happen any way. Without the captain, local player Lucas Purdy was given the ‘C’
“He is a third year guy, and he is a guy in our leadership group.” Stuart said “Very easily, along with a couple others that don’t have letters, could be a guy that has a letter. He has been working hard lately. It was a thank you for all the hard work for the year to give him the ‘C’ in the last game.”
League leading scorer Liam Plunkett opened the scoring, banging home a rebound, and would hold onto the one goal lead going into the second period.
Farmer was awarded a penalty shot, after it was concluded that a Cats player closed their hand on the puck in the crease area. Farmer glided in and made it look easy, tying the game at one.
In the third Cam Russell, the eventual Away Star of the game, scored an unassisted short handed goal to give the Dynamiters a 2-1 lead.
“Russell stood out because of the short handed goal.” Stuart said, “it was a phenomenal individual effort.”
“I don’t think that there was one guy that stood out in Creston. I think everyone came together and played Nitros hockey.
“We dedicated the game to the 20 year-olds on our team before hand. We said we were going to do whatever we can to get a victory for them. As a group, overall, it was great team effort.”
And as fate would have it, 20 year-old Nicholas “Captain America” Ketola scored with just under four minutes left to give the Nitros a 3-1 lead.
The Cats would half the lead, but it was too little to late, as Andersen stopped 24 of 26 shots for his 12th win of the season.
“Adam was excellent. He was great. The last four periods we have played there he has been outstanding. He has turned into, for us, a 1B type of goaltender instead of a backup. We are not afraid to put Adam in whatsoever, he has been fantastic.”
With the 3-2 win, the Nitros finished the season going undefeated in February, winning their past nine in a row, and posting a 38-7-1-1 record for the season. The .830 win percentage is the best the Dynamiters have ever posted in the KIJHL.
“We are proud of the players, not just for attaining their goals, but being able to have one of the best, if not the best season, winning percentage wise, in Dynamiters history.” Stuart said. “It is very telling of the team that we have. We are very excited for the playoffs.”
The Dynamiters now prepare for their opening round of the playoffs Friday against the Fernie Ghostriders.