Friday night, the Kimberley Dynamiters face what could be their toughest test early in the 2014-15 KIJHL campaign when the Osoyoos Coyotes visit the Kimberley Civic Centre.
They will be forced to forge on without the services of starting goaltender Tyson Brouwer, who was diagnosed with an MCL sprain Thursday afternoon. On top of losing their number-one puck-stopper, the Nitros will also go without top defenceman Jordan Busch, who was suspended Thursday.
The absence of Brouwer and Bancks has had an immediate impact on the team.
“We’re definitely going to change things up a bit,” said head coach Jerry Bancks Thursday afternoon. “We might change our defensive zone coverage and we may change our forecheck as well.
“We have to get the puck out of our end better than we did [against Creston Valley]. We have to get on the forecheck and we have to compete for 60 minutes. Against a team like [Osoyoos], if you don’t [compete for 60 minutes], you’re not going to beat them.”
Brouwer sustained the injury Wednesday night in Creston Valley on the Thunder Cats game-winning goal in double-overtime. As Thunder Cats forward Mason Mazur drove the net on the winning sequence, he collided with Brouwer, eventually leading to the injury.
Brouwer has been a workhorse for Bancks, seeing the crease in 14 games this season, stacking up a 10-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.
To make matters worse, backup goaltender Liam McBain has been sidelined by a bout of strep throat all week long. His readiness ahead of Friday’s contest with the Coyotes is up in the air as of print deadline Thursday evening.
To address the dire situation, the Dynamiters have brought in 18-year-old goaltender Brett Reader. The native of 5-foot-11 native Langley, B.C. is in Kimberley and will dress. Should McBain not be healthy enough to start the game, Reader will get the call.
“We gave up over 40 shots [against Creston Valley]. Our goal is always between 20 to 25 [shots against],” Bancks said. “We have to tighten up in our own zone. There was a lot of breakdown [in Creston Valley], a lot of miscommunication, which caused us a lot of difficulty. We have to fix that and it doesn’t matter who is in goal.”
If the goaltending situation wasn’t enough to make one worry, the Nitros will go without defenceman Jordan Busch Friday night as well.
The 19-year-old Edmonton native was slapped with a one-game suspension after receiving a game misconducting for fighting in the final 10 minutes of the third period in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss in Creston.
Busch stepped in to aid teammate Coy Prevost, who had been levelled along the boards.
The 6-foot-2 rearguard has been a minute-muncher for the Dynamiters through the early stages of the campaign, tallying two goals and 15 assists along the way.
The Coyotes enter Friday as the top team in the KIJHL, sitting atop the Okanagan Division with a record of 14-3-0-0. Following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Kelowna Chiefs, Osoyoos edged the Summerland Steam 5-4 Wednesday night.