The Kimberley Dynamiters exhibition season has come and gone, and while the games were a bit rough around the edges, head coach Derek Stuart said that’s to be expected for this point in the year at the best times, let alone after COVID has prevented these kids from playing games for so long.
“All four of our games were just chaos out there,” Stuart said. “It’s exhibition season and the kids haven’t played any games in how many months? It was absolute chaos all four games. It got a little bit better, I guess, towards our last game, but for the most part it was quite scrambly.”
The Nitros faced off against the Revelstoke Grizzlies for their last two exhibition games, at home on Thursday, Sept. 23 and in Revelstoke on Friday, Sept. 25. The games ended with a tie at home, with the Grizzlies bringing it to all square with a 5-on-3 powerplay goal in the final moments of the game. The Dynamiters were defeated on the Grizzlies’ home ice 2-1.
While he thinks the game were a bit on the chaotic side, partially due to the time of year and to the long hiatus, Stuart says the team also hasn’t even had the chance to implement or discuss any systems at this point.
“It’s just let them go play hockey and it happens every year at this time, probably at every level, it’s just not very good hockey right now but that’s to be expected,” he said, adding that there were some good things to go along with the not so good. Their first period in Revelstoke, for example, was the best hockey they played throughout the exhibition season.
Stuart said there were a lot of positive things that they can take from those games and bring into their first practise, held Monday, Sept. 27.
Not only was it great for the players to get back out on the ice and play some hockey, but the opportunity to do it with some fans in the stands was definitely a welcomed change of pace.
“It was fun for everyone I think,” Stuart said. “Whether there was 10 people in the crowd or 200, it was good just to get playing some games in front of some people and not have to go through all those protocols that we did last year when played the three games, it was a little bit of a relief but also a lot of excitement and I know our team and the teams we played, the excitement level was definitely at a mid-season kind of level.”
He added that the guys are excited to get closer to their final roster, and to actually practice together and start getting ready for the season.
“Here an exhibition is more about evaluating the players than it is preparing or booting up for the season,” Stuart explained.
“We’re going to do that starting today and I think that’s mainly the excitement, the excitement I feel anyways is getting the guys together and getting our actual team that’s going to start opening night together for a practice tonight and getting ready for Friday.”
The team won’t completely be solidified until Jan. 10, but they are down to two goalies, seven defencemen and they currently have one or two extra forwards.
“We will still have to make some roster room here, but we’re not forced to right now and we aren’t to sure what moves we’re going to make, so we have some time to figure that out still,” Stuart said.
One bright surprise from the pre-season, Stuart added, was Kimberley local Justin Sommer, who was the only player who made the team that wasn’t already signed coming in, knocking out some signed players and veterans and earning a spot on the team.
The Dynamiters square off against the Columbia Valley Rockies on home ice for the season opener on Friday, Oct. 1.